Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Color Code Emails in Your Outlook Inbox

Letting Outlook color-code emails can greatly improve your productivity by focusing your attention on the right emails. Here are a few simple tips ... using tools that are built into Outlook ... that you can use to achieve this.

Color messages sent only to you
If you don't respond to a message, that was addressed only to you, then no one will. Outlook's Organize feature makes it easy to highlight these messages so that you don't miss them.

Go to your Inbox.
Click Tools-Organize to display the Organize pane..
Click Using Colors (on the left) of the Organize pane.
Click the Turn On button next to "Messages sent only to me now appear blue". (Change the color from blue if you want)

Slight problem … You may find that this also colors email newsletters you receive in your Inbox as they are normally addressed to you (only) as well. I get around this by using rules to automatically move newsletters to a folder I have called Read Later.

Color messages sent by your boss, wife/husband, important clients etc
You can use the same Organize function to color code emails from specific people.

Go to your Inbox.
Click Tools-Organize.
Click Using Colors.
Change the drop-down next to Color Message so that it reads "from".
Type in the email address in the box provided (or select an email from that person in your Inbox and Outlook will fill in the box for you)
Change the color if you need to.
Click the Apply Color button.

Deleting Color Coding
If you need to delete or change the color coding at a later date.

Go to your Inbox.
Click Tools-Organize.
Click Using Colors.
Click Automatic Formatting to display the list of color formats applied to the folder.
Select the relevant item from the list and click Delete.

Advanced Color Coding
You can also use the Automatic Formatting screen described in the previous Delete section for more advanced color coding. Detailed instructions can be found on an earlier post titled Let Outlook highlight your important emails.

I hope these simple color coding tricks help make your Inbox more manageable.

Do you have you own email coloring tricks? Tell me more by leaving comments on the blog.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Word 2007 - Save automatically in the OLD format

Word 2007 (and the rest of Office 2007) introduced new file formats. Word files are now saved as docx instead of doc.

You may have a problem if you email these files to people who haven't upgraded to Word 2007 yet ... users of older versions of Word cannot read these files unless they download additional software.

I haven't figured out a good reason for saving files to the new format, so like me, you may find it easier to configure Word to save files in the OLD format by default.

Start Word.
Click the Office Button (round button/icon at the top left hand corner)
Click Word Options (lower right hand of the menu that opens)
Click Save in the list in the left hand column.
Choose Word 97-2003 Document (.doc) in the drop-down list.
Click OK.

If you have a good reason for actually wanting to use the new format, please let me know by leaving a comment.

vCard Follow-Up: Do vCards expose information about your activities?

Late last month I wrote an article on using vCards in Outlook.

A reader had the following question:

I have created the v-card repeatedly, but no matter what I do, Outlook (2003) recognizes that it's "me" making the card, and always includes all my personal information under the Activities tab. So whoever receives the v-card is able to look at my contacts, emails, calendar, etc. How can I remove that?

I must admit... the email SCARED me ... had I accidentally advised you to send all kinds of personal information out. Luckily for me ...

The person you send the vcard to will not see the activities you are seeing as the activities are NOT being sent with the card.

Instead ... the Activites page is being created on the users computer based on items it find on that users computer related to the contact.

When you are opening the vCard on your computer, Outlook is finding all the activities that relate to you in your Outlook. When the recipient opens it, they will only see any activities that they already have in their Outlook related to you.

You can verify for yourself that there are no activities being sent with your vCard by saving it to harddisk and then opening it with Notepad.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Restore FORMATTING in Plain Text Emails

The only formatting possible in plain text emails is capitalizing certain words and inserting line breaks to make certain ideas stand out.

For received emails, Outlook is configured by default to automatically remove what it considers extra line breaks. Here's how you can get Outlook to leave plain text emails the way the sender intended.

Click Tools - Options.
On the Preferences tab, click the Email Options button.
Clear the tick next to the Remove extra line breaks in plain text messages checkbox.
Click OK
Click OK

Automatic Safe Sender Maintenance for Outlook Junk Folder

I think Outlook's Junk Email Folder does a fantastic job of keeping spam out of my Inbox but ... occasionally real emails end up there. Here's a quick tip to reduce the number of emails that get incorrectly moved to the Junk Email folder.

Outlook has a Safe Sender's list. Outlook knows that anyone who is on your Safe Sender's list is authorised to send you email.

It makes sense (most of the time) that anyone you actually write to should automatically be put on your safe sender's list.

The ability to do this is built into Outlook but is turned off by default. To turn it on ...

Go to your Inbox.
Click Actions - Junk Email - Junk Email Options
Click the Safe Senders tab.
Tick the checkbox Automatically add people I e-mail to the Safe Senders List.
Click OK.