Things I want to see in the next Outlook version

Now that we've completed our systems migration, I'm actually using Outlook 2007 on a daily basis. Previously, we used Novell Groupwise at work, and I'm also a huge consumer of gmail for my personal stuff.

I don't mind Outlook 2007 overall, although I've heard some complaints that there are too many steps to get to each thing. Most of it is that people are trying to get used to the new UI, but I'd agree that it could be more efficient in certain areas.

Things I do like about Outlook 2007:

  • It has a softer feel than Groupwise 6.5
  • I can code against the object model (Okay, I'm a geek, but we knew that)
  • The calendar has a neat feature that, when shared, overlays others appointments against your own, so you can see everything that is going on.

Things that I think are sorely lacking

  • In Groupwise you could set up rules to file email once it had been marked read. In Outlook, even in 2007, you cannot do this. We can set up rules to file it when it comes in the door, but not after the email is read. Come on Microsoft! I don't want my email filed until I've had a chance to see it, or I'll miss it. This is WAY overdue!
  • Filing in folder vs labels. Microsoft needs to take a page from gmail and get this into the next version. Filing in folders is soooo 1997! I want to be able to label each email with MULTIPLE labels. None of this filing an email in one folder. I want to be able to tag it with each person's name, and maybe even a project description. As it is, I file based on the original sender, which means I'm pretty much restricted to using the search feature and waiting for it. Gmail is incredibly powerful in this regard, as I don't need to remember the original sender, just one of the participants in the thread, and I can find the entire email conversation. Ultimately, I'd like to combine this with rules, automatically applying rules to label the email when it arrives, (based on sender and/or subject) and having it clear out of my inbox once it's read.

The thing I'm still trying to figure out, that I'm sure is possible...

  • I'm still trying to figure out how to get all my contacts to file, and flow into email, by LAST name. By default, I have to enter the person's first name to get the email prompting to work. This simply isn't the way I work. I know it can be done, but haven't had time to fight it through yet.

I'm sure I'll have more as I go along. As it is, I've started publishing short articles to our staff on how to work with Outlook 2007, which I'm reproducing in the Outlook General Tips section of my website.



7 thoughts on “Things I want to see in the next Outlook version

  1. "set up rules to file email once it had been marked read"

    Sounds like a really nice feature! How ever, even if you have rules to move items to folders or assign categories when email arrive, you can still use the Unread email search folder to read email regardless of its folder. You can create new search folders to see todays mail for instance.

    "I want to be able to label each email with MULTIPLE labels"

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but you can do this with Categories. Next to the flag in the Inbox you see a little box. Right click this to set quick categories. At the bottom you have a choice for more categories where you can add more categories.

    Then use Search Folders to list all items in a category.

    You can choose if you want FirstName, LastName or LastName, FirstName order. I don't remember exactly where you set this, but I'm guessing Tools, Address book, Tools, Options. But maybe I didn't understand what you're trying to do here...

    // Johan

    btw.. You sites layout breaks when the browser window isn't wide enough...

  2. Hi Johan,

    "Maybe I’m missing something here..."

    More likely that it's me, I'm sure. 😉 Maybe I should rename the post "Things I wish I could discover in Outlook. I'm not claiming to be an expert in this application at all.

    I'm playing with Categories a bit today, and will report back.

    As for the site layout... which one? My main site, or the blog? I know the blog does weird things. I just haven't found the time to look in to it. 🙁

  3. LOL! If it had a Ribbon, I'd know how to fix it. 😉

    Johan, I just had a play with this. The blog resizes very nicely in Firefox. In IE though... a different matter. It seems to break as soon as you get lower than a 1200 width. I'm not a whiz with CSS or PHP, so I'll have to see what I can do...

  4. Ken - Back it up, then hack away. I never knew anything about PHP, and I'd only really dabbled in CSS. But two weeks ago I started my blog, and the first few days I tweaked and torqued. if I wanted to change a width, I looked for a measurement that looked like a width. To change a color, I looked for the six character hex value. you know the drill. It's still not perfect, but it ain't bad, and it's mine.

  5. Jon, what's a backup?

    Okay, started hacking, then realized that this actually has nothing to do with the WordPress theme. The text was bumping down (in IE only) when it couldn't figure out how to handle a Google banner that was too wide for the body area. It's a shame that the Google banner can't be dynamically sized.

    I've cut the Google ad down from the 728 width to the 480 width, so hopefully that solves the issue for you, Johan. 🙂

    Regarding the categories, I've played with them a bit. You're right in that the purposes are similar to Google's label concept. I'll have to play with them a bit more yet.

    As far as the First Name, Last Name thing... I managed to really bugger up my contacts today trying to fool with them. I ended up with half my contacts showing one way, and half the other. I've got it back to First Name, Last Name order, and am leaving it alone for the moment. I'll tackle it again when I want to be aggravated. I'm guessing that I just did something dumb.

  6. Works fine in IE7 now.

    Regarding names.. Check Tools, Options, Contacts Options button and the top of that dialog box. (Not exactly sure about the english command names, but something like that.)

    It might be different settings for you Exchange contacts like the global address book. I know those can be set on the server and I'm not sure that you can override this in your own settings. But for your personal contacts I think this will work.

    // Johan

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