Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fixing Search Problems in Outlook 2007

Instant Search is one of the best features added to Outlook 2007. The problem was that it never worked well for me … until I carried out a series of quick fixes.


Search in Outlook 2007 uses Vista's (or Windows Desktop's) Search Indexes. If these are not built properly or corrupt you may find that Outlook Search does not work properly.

In my case, Search was failing miserably. It wouldn’t even find words in the email that I was currently on.

There are two possible solutions:

Disable Instant Search (Go back to Outlook 2002-2003 Style Search)

Rebuild the Search Index

Disabling is OK as a temporary solution but is not a real fix.


Warning: This process takes a long time. I suggest you run it just before you leave the office for the day (or just before you go to sleep)

If you are using Vista:

Click the Windows Start button and type "index. Indexing Options should appear under programs.

Click Indexing Options to bring up the Indexing Options screen.

Instruction for Vista Users are continued after the section on Windows XP below ...

If you are using Microsoft Windows XP:
Open the Control Panel:
In Classic view, double-click Indexing Options.
In normal view: Under See Also, click Other Control Panel Options, and then click Indexing Options.

Once your Indexing Options Screen is open ...

Click the Advanced button to bring up the following screen.

Click Rebuid.

Your current Search Indexes will be deleted and rebuilt. Tomorrow morning you should find Search working perfectly again.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mailing Labels, Emails and Faxes using Microsoft Outlook Contacts

The Holiday Season includes sending out invitations, Christmas Cards, Greetings etc to your friends and customers. Mail-Merge can be a real time saver whether you use the postal service, faxes or emails.

Here are some resources to get you started.

In case you are not sure what mail merge is:

Mail-Merge takes one letter (or email) that you have written and creates personalized copies for everyone you want to send it to i.e. each person's copy will have their own name and any other details that you want written into the appropriate places.

How will you be reaching out to your friends this year ?

1. The Really Old Fashioned Way: Real Cards and Letters in Real Envelopes

Even if you will be sending paper based mail this year, technology can help you.

Here are step-by-step instructions to:

Use mail-merge in Word with Outlook data to create and print personalized letters

Use mail-merge in Word with Outlook data to print mailing labels and envelopes.

2. The Slightly Old Fashioned Way: Faxing

Despite what many people will have you believe, Faxing is not dead.

In fact in terms of deliverability, it can beat email - there is almost no chance that your fax won't get delivered because of an over-zealous spam filter.

You can use Microsoft Word and the free fax printer that comes with Windows 2000/XP/Vista to send out personalized faxes to your customers this year.

The Bad News: Windows Fax and MS Word don't talk easily to each other out of the box.
The Good News: Fax4Word allows you to fax merge straight from Word to the Windows Fax printer.

3. The New Way: Emailing

Out-of-the-box Outlook uses Word to carry out its Mail Merge. Here is a link to a tutorial to do this..

You may also want to take a look at Outlook addon software like eMailMerge 4Outlook.

It takes all the complexity out of doing email merges and replaces it with a simple Wizard ... plus it has powerful features that get around many built-in limitations of Outlook and Word ... plus you can use data from Excel files, Access databases etc.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

How to Write an Effective Email

I read an article earlier today on Writing Effective Articles. The key points raised by the author (Janet Barclay) were:

  1. Identify the action required
  2. Include all relevant information and documentation
  3. Make sure your subject line is specific
  4. Enter the recipient information last
  5. Do not combine unrelated subjects in the same message.

Read the full article How to Write an Effective Email on the author's website.

For some automatic protection, you may also want to try SendGuard 4Outlook.

SendGuard works inside Outlook. It automatically prompts you if it detects that you are about to send out an email with a number of common mistakes including:

  1. You forgot to attach a file that was meant to go with the email
  2. You left the Subject empty
  3. You clicked Reply-to-All and may be accidentally disclosing information to the wrong people.
  4. You clicked Reply (instead of Reply-to-All) and may be leaving some important people out
  5. You used the wrong email account to send out an email

It even has a feature that lets you change your mind about a poorly worded email that you have already clicked Send on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Let Outlook Highlight Important Emails

You can make better use of your time by getting Outlook to automatically highlight important emails by color-coding them for you.

I subscribe to several newsgroups/mailing lists on the Internet. I use Rules to move these emails out my Inbox to read later so that they don't interrupt my normal work day.

The problem is that one newsgroup in particular has a few hundred emails every day. Most of the topics discussed are of little interest to me.

I'm only interested in emails that have the word Outlook in them.

I've setup Outlook so that it automatically highlights (Red Bold) any email with the word Outlook in it.

This way I don't waste my time scanning through hundreds of emails. I am also able to provide better value to other members of the newsgroup by responding to Outlook related postings quickly.

1. Go to the Folder in which the emails are. This can be the Inbox or any other folder.

2. On the menu at the top, Click View-Current View - Customize Current View to display the Customize View screen.

3. Click the Automatic Formatting button.

4. Click the Add Button

5. Enter a name e.g. "Colour Code Outlook Emails"

6. Click the Font button and using the resulting screen to choose how you want emails to be highlighted (I chose the colour Red and Bold). Click OK to return to the previous screen.

7. Click the Condition button to display the Filter screen and enter your criteria and click OK.

In my case I chose:

Search for the word(s): Outlook
In: Subject and message body

8. Click OK 3 times to return to your Folder.

Your Emails are Now Color Coded

Any emails in the folder that meet the criteria you specified will automatically be highlighted. Any new emails will also be highlighted.

You can use this technique whenever you need to highlight an email e.g. highlight all emails from your most important client.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Receiving newsletters in your Inbox can REDUCE Your Productivity!

Do you subscribe to any email newsletters, mailing lists or groups?

I often mind myself going to check my email and 30 minutes later all I have done is read through "interesting" articles instead of doing any real work.

Microsoft's built-in Rules feature provides a solution.

What are Rules in Outlook?

According to Outlook 2007 Help … A rule is an action that Microsoft Office Outlook takes automatically on an arriving or sent message that meets the conditions that you specify in the rule.

For example … you can set a Rule to automatically move emails from a particular email address out of the Inbox to another folder.

Normally I don't use Rules much because ...

My Inbox is my To-Do list.

I don't want anything automatically moved out of it. Even Outlook automatically moving items after they are read is NOT acceptable because I sometimes leave stuff in there to deal with later.

I want to move emails out myself after I have finished with them - I need to stay in control of my Inbox.

I use QuickFile 4Outlook to simplify email filing out of my Inbox (and Sent Items).

But in this situation it makes sense …

I want the newsletter emails moved out of my Inbox and into a folder dedicated to newsletters.

These emails are not part of my daily to-do-list and I prefer to go through them when I take a break from real work.

How to create a Rule

BEFORE creating the Rule, create a folder inside Outlook where you want the newsletter emails to be moved to. Then ...

Go to your Inbox.
Click Tools.
Click Rules & Alerts.
Click New Rule to display the Rules Wizard.

"Move Messages from someone to a folder" will already be highlighted. (This example assumes that the newsletters come from the same email address - otherwise you can use one of the other predefined Rule Templates)

Click "people or distribution list" to display the Rule Address screen.

Choose a name from the list or type in the name in the From field and then click OK.

Click the hyperlinked word "specified" to bring up the Choose Folder dialog. Select the desired folder from the list and then click OK.

Now that the Rule is created, any emails coming from the list will automatically be moved to the chosen folder.

You can also apply it to any emails that are already in the folder by going back to the Rules and Alerts screen and clicking the "Run Rules Now" button.

Use Rules in this way to move emails that you know are NOT part of your REAL WORK.

This keeps your Inbox clean and focussed on things that need your attention.

I recommend that you don't use Rules to shift work related emails.

Keep them coming to your Inbox and use a tool like QuickFile 4Outlook to manage their filing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How to Delay/Schedule Outlook Email Delivery

A friend who does a lot of consulting work had a very unusual problem. He often works on reports late at night that end up getting emailed out in the very early hours of the morning.

Problem: The recipient can see the Sent time of the email. In his industry this could be viewed as being very dedicated ... or unprofessional.

Manual Solution: Save the email to your Drafts folder and (hopefully) remember to open it and send it in the morning.

Automatic Solution: Get Outlook to automatically send it out for you in the morning.

Here are the steps to schedule or delay the sending of your emails. After you have finished typing up the email, don't click Send (yet).

In Outlook 2007: Click Options and then click Delay Delivery (on the Ribbon) to display the Message Options screen.

In other versions of Outlook: Click Options on the toolbar to display the Message Options screen.

Under Delivery Options, tick "Do not deliver before" and fill in the relevant date and time. Click Close.

Now click Send!

Your email will be moved to the Outbox but will not be sent out until the first time (after your set time) that Outlook does a Send & Receive.