Archive for the ‘Outlook’ Category

Macro to add a hyperlink to a mail message

February 13, 2008

Today I wrote a mail to someone and wanted to add several links. It always annoyed me that Office’s Add Hyperlink is so bloated it takes some time to open, and even more time to switch back to it from another application, where all I wanted was to make the selected text link to the URL I had in my clipboard. So I set out to write a macro that did it.

Since Outlook has no macro recorder, I started searching Outlook’s Object Browser and discovered that there is no method to add a hyperlink or to get the content of the clipboard. So I borrowed the “Getting clipboard content” functionality from a VBS script I already had, and I turned to Word to record a macro that adds a hyperlink to the selected text. Once I had this Word macro, I found out I can use ActiveInspector.WordEditor to issue the Word macro I created.

The final macro result is this:

Public Sub AddLinkFromClipboard()
    If ActiveInspector.EditorType = olEditorText Then
        MsgBox "Can't add links to textual mail"
        Exit Sub
    End If
    Dim objHTM As Object
    Dim ClipboardData As String
    Dim doc As Object
    Dim sel As Object
    Set objHTM = CreateObject("htmlfile")
    ClipboardData = objHTM.ParentWindow.ClipboardData.GetData("text")
    Set doc = ActiveInspector.WordEditor
    Set sel = doc.Application.Selection
    doc.Hyperlinks.Add Anchor:=sel.Range, _
        Address:=ClipboardData, _
        SubAddress:="", _
        ScreenTip:="", _
        TextToDisplay:=sel.Text
End Sub
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Xobni feedback: Missing right-click menus

January 16, 2008

Although they bragged about adding right-click menu to the sidebar, I still miss having all the options from the relevant Outlook menu when I right click a message, a contact or an attachment.

For example –

  • If I see an attachment in the Xobni bottom panel, I’d like to be able to save it to a file.
  • If I see someone name in the people pane, I’d like to be able to open it’s related Outlook contact.
  • If I see a message I’d like to be able to move it to a different folder (and also to know what folder it is currently in, but this is something for a separate post…)

New tools

January 15, 2008

I recently came by several new neat tools:

del.icio.us Bookmarks (Firefox extension)

Evgeny asked me if I know of a way to synchronize his browser’s hierarchal bookmarks with his Google tagged bookmarks. I recommended him switching to del.icio.us, knowing that such a popular site must have a synchronizing extension. A little search revealed that after Yahoo purchased del.icio.us, they wrote a extension to do exactly what I looked for, and it seems to work extremely well.

One of the main benefits of the extension to me is the option to bookmark an opened Firefox tab while offline, counting on the extension to later synchronize it to del.icio.us when I’m back online.

The only problem is that I have used many, many tags, and this translates to a very long Tags menu. Obviously, the guys at Yahoo thought about it, and added the Favorite Tags feature, but still, if I look for a tag not in my favorites list, it can be annoying. I really need to clean up my list of bookmarks, but that’s not related to the del.icio.us Bookmarks. It would be better, though, if they could put the list of tabs in multiple-columns menu, like the programs menu in Windows’ Start menu, but I don’t know how easy it is to do it in a Firefox extension.

Miranda IM

When I first realized I use several IM clients, and could use one tool that will aggregate them all, I started using Meebo, especially as I was impressed with the Web and AJAX abilities they demonstrated. But then I realized I prefer a non-browser solution, which will not depend on my browser (which is an important working tool for me), and will show me tray notification on events. I picked Pidgin which looked nice.

But recently  I realized I’m having too many problems with it. It didn’t do Hebrew spell checking, it often got stuck while writing messages, it didn’t display Hebrew properly with talking with my boss via MSN, and some more. I started looking again, and found Miranda. Miranda look very nice, and it seem to have a plugin for anything I could think I need. I especially liked the SMS plugin which sends SMS via ICQ for free I so liked it, I recommended it to friends, and even installed it on my wife’s machine, so she can use it for sending SMS (thought she is still using Google Talk for chatting).

The only current problem is that Miranda doesn’t handle Hebrew spell checking well as well. I posted something about it. I hope it will sometime be fixed.

Xobni

When I saw the Xobni video I fell in love and signed up to their closed beta. I recently got an invitation to the beta and started using it. Surprisingly, It doesn’t slow down my Outlook and seems to work very well. I do have some complaints, but because it is too long, I’ll post them in separate posts.

Fireshot (Firefox extension)

I don’t use Nitobi’s products, but after reading Alex’s explanation of how he built the FishEye widget, I subscribed to his blog which sometimes have interesting ideas or links. He recently posted about the Fireshot Firefox extension for taking screenshots from the browser. There are many screen capturing programs, and my favorite is  MWSnap, but his extension allows you to easily edit the captured image – crop and blur areas, add annotations etc. I even used it to open an image captured outside of the browser with MWSnap, by opening the image in Firefox and re-capturing it, just for the editing.

The only problem I’m currently having with it doesn’t have an Undo feature, which means that if you made a mistake in your editing of the captured image, you have to re-capture and start all over again.

A solution to quickly moving mail items from Outlook inbox

June 12, 2007

My usual way of handling e-mails is reading them in the inbox which collects both work-related e-mails from the Exchange server and private e-mails from my Gmail inbox using SMTP and POP3., and then dragging them to the the appropriate folder in one of the PST I have.

I know that since I index my mails and it is lightning fast to find any e-mail filing each e-mail in a specific related folder is less important, but kind of used to it, and I still find it useful to be able to go to a folder and see all the mails that I decided that belong to that folder, and not all the files that match some search. This has prove itself useful mainly in customer related data, where searching the customer name would have bring way too many mails, but looking at the customer folder quickly revealed the old case I was looking for. By the way, these is one of the reason I prefer Outlook to Gmail. Outlook can easily help me categorize my mails in hundreds of hierarchical folders, where Gmail provides a flat list of labels, which might not be useful for more than a few dozens.

My problem was that whenever I wanted to move a mail to a folder, I would have to find the folder in the folders tree, in order to drag the mail into it. This might be annoying for commonly used  folders like the folder that keeps mails from CodeProject (I’m subscribed to it although I rarely develop in Microsoft technologies. I enjoy skimming through it looking at what’s new in that area. Occasionally I even find an interesting article).

When a mail is opened in Outlook editor, which has the new ribbon, the ribbon has a clever Move to Folder item which opens a list of recently used folders. However, if I don’t want to open the mail, and only want to move it to a folder from the index, I have to find the folder in the tree and drag it to it.

One solution is to use the Favorite Folders to put shortcut to commonly used folders in a fixed place, and then drag mails to that folder shortcut, and not to its location in the tree. This has two drawbacks:

  1. The list tends to grow all the time, and I end up with a big list of “Favorite Folders” which I rarely ever navigate to – I only use them as drag targets.
  2. Sometimes Outlook crashes and the list of Favorites folder is reset, and I have to start building it from scratch.

Today I came up with a new solution – use macros.

I wrote the following VBA procedure:

Private Sub MoveItemsToFolder(folderID As String)
    Dim item As MailItem
    Dim targetFolder As Folder
    ' Folder ID can be obtained by selecting the folder
    ' in Outlook and then typing in the immediate window:
    '   ?ActiveExplorer.CurrentFolder.EntryID
    Set targetFolder = GetNamespace("MAPI").GetFolderFromID(folderID)
    If ActiveExplorer.CurrentFolder = targetFolder Then
        MsgBox "You are already in '" & targetFolder.Name & "'.", vbCritical
        Exit Sub
    End If

    For Each item In ActiveExplorer.Selection
        item.Move targetFolder
    Next item
End Sub

and then I wrote small procedures like the following:

Sub MoveToPrivate()
    MoveItemsToFolder "0000000045DC3C0FFF1EA54CBAD9147BB26AF269A2800000"
End Sub

Sub MoveToCodeProject()
    MoveItemsToFolder "00000000A7E4D138E838B7489BA3F839949B055122860000"
End Sub

Then I created a new menu in Outlook toolbar, and added these procedures as items to this toolbar menu. So now, when I want to move a mail to a folder, I simply select it and click the appropriate button.

As the comment says, if a new folder is needed, I select it and open the VBA editor, and type

ActiveExplorer.CurrentFolder.EntryID

in the immediate window. I didn’t have an Outlook crash yet, so I don’t yet know if crashes that reset the favorite folders also reset toolbar customization, but at least the first problem is solved – my favorite folders only contains folder I navigate to regularly, and not all the folder I periodically get mails that should be filed under them.

Email Indexing – Moving Back to X1

April 18, 2007

Ever since I found e-mail indexing, I cannot really live without it. I store almost all my e-mails, and I need to have immediate access to it. If I can’t search my entire corpus of history e-mail and get the results, I feel somewhat crippled.

I guess my first attempt was Google Desktop Search (GDS), and then I found something that annoyed me later in other Google applications (e.g. Picasa), but was best demonstrated in GDS – Google seems to think they know what’s best for you, and let you have very little control of the process. I really didn’t like it. I think, and this is a general note about application design, that you should have an interface that on one hand is as simple as possible so dumb users can use it without much questions, but on the other hand, you should provide as much as possible choice for advanced users to change things to their liking. GDS, for example, didn’t really let me decide what mail folders or files folders I want it to index.

I also didn’t like it that GDS shows results in the browser. I’m only interested in finding e-mails, but when I do find an e-mail, I want it to open in Outlook so I can have all the Outlook behavior I’m used to.

Then I switched to Microsoft’s Windows Desktop Search (WDS), which was nice, but I couldn’t really understand when it is indexing and what. It said it has finished, but still couldn’t find a message that I was looking for. I think GDS had the same problem. I just couldn’t trust it when it said no messages met my search criteria.

And then I found X1 Enterprise Client (XEC) and really liked it – it was fast, reliable and had a nice UI. It also let me fully integrate with Outlook, e.g. open the folder in which a message reside. I’d continue using it but then I installed Office 2007 beta, and XEC didn’t work well with that version of Outlook, so I had to revert to WDS.

Today, doing a regular search (about once in a month or two) to see if XEC already supports Outlook 2007, I found out it probably does support it, so I downloaded and installed it, and once it finishes building its index, I’ll start enjoying it and getting used to be spoiled.

The problem I found in both WDS and XEC is that in doesn’t store search history (at least not that I found) so if you search for a ticket number, and then for something else, and you would like to get that number you just searched for, it won’t let you. I hope it will be added some time soon. in XEC it is a little more problematic, since because it is so fast, it can allow itself to do “find as you type”, but that means you don’t have a specific event of submitting a search in which the term you searched for should enter the history list. Nevertheless, I’m sure its developer can find a way to solve it if they really want to.