8.6 Outlook-Only Tips
Most people only scratch the surface of Outlook's capabilities. This section explains how to delve more deeply into its mysteries and realize more of its vast potential.
8.6.1 Opening Outlook in Separate Windows
If you use Outlook for your email, calendar, and contacts, you probably spend too much time flipping back and forth among these tools. Every time you want to switch between, say, your inbox and your calendar, you have to click the Outlook Bar ‚ or in Outlook 2003, the Navigation Pane ‚ then choose the feature you want. Here's a quicker way: Open your contacts, calendar, and email in their own windows. Now you can view them onscreen at the same time, or switch among them using the Alt-Tab key combination.
If you're reading email, say, and need to check your calendar, right-click the calendar icon in the Outlook Bar or Navigation Pane and choose Open in New Window. Your calendar opens in a separate window. You can now switch between your inbox and your date book by pressing Alt-Tab, or simultaneously view both onscreen by right-clicking the taskbar and choosing either Tile Windows Horizontally or Tile Windows Vertically.
8.6.2 Deleting Outlook Items Lickety-Split
Deleting anything in Outlook is normally a two-step process. When you delete an email message, for instance, Outlook doesn't actually get rid of it ‚ it just moves the message to the Deleted Items folder. You must then manually empty your Deleted Items folder to permanently vanquish the message (or set Outlook to empty that folder every time you exit the program).
If you want to cut your deletion work in half, here's what to do: Hold down the Shift key when you delete an item to have Outlook delete it immediately, rather than moving it to the Deleted Items folder. You can also delete multiple items at once using this technique. First, select the items you want to delete by holding down the Shift key when you click them. Then, when they're all selected, keep pressing Shift when you press the Delete key; they all disappear from your screen without a trace.
8.6.3 Removing Outlook's Memorized Addresses
One of Outlook's niftier features is its ability to remember people you've sent mail to in the past. Whenever you open a new message and type a few letters into the "To:" field, a list pops up with names or addresses that begin with the same letters , as you can see in Figure 8-18.
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Figure 8-18. Unlike the rest of us, Outlook never forgets a name , prompting you with a list of past correspondents whenever you type a few letters into the "To:" box in a new email message. If you don't want Outlook to display a list of past correspondents when you type the first few letters of an address, you can tell it to stop second-guessing you. Open Outlook and choose Tools Options E-mail Options Advanced E-mail Options, and turn off "Suggest names while completing the To, Cc and Bcc fields." Then click OK three times.
But as neat as this feature is, it causes problems as well: Outlook has a memory like an elephant, so it never forgets an address. This means the pop-up lists grow longer and longer, and are frequently filled with outdated addresses ‚ not to mention people you never plan to email again.
It's easy to kill any address from the pop-up list. Create a new email message, start to type an email address, and when the list of addresses pops up, use the up or down arrow keys to highlight the address you want to scratch. Then press the Delete key. Outlook stops displaying the name in its prompts, but doesn't delete that person's record from your contacts. In many cases, names on the pop-up list aren't in your contacts file, so if you don't want to cut the cord completely, create a new record before deleting the name from the pop-up list.
8.6.4 Backing Up Outlook
If you've become dependent on Outlook, it probably stores much of your digital life ‚ all your email; contact information for your friends , family, and co-workers ; and your daily schedule ever since you switched to a digital calendar. If you lose your Outlook data, you're sunk.
Avoid identity loss by backing up your Outlook data. One of the easiest ways to do so is by using a free program from Microsoft. Called Personal Folders Backup software, a precious program available from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&familyid=8b081f3a-b7d0-4b16-b8af-5a6322f4fd01. It lets you back up Outlook with just a few clicks and then easily restores your data if something goes awry.
Note: Personal Folders Backup only works with Outlook 2000 and later versions.
After you've downloaded the backup software, install it, and then run Outlook. Choose File Backup. Outlook stores its important data in files with a .pst extension, such as Outlook.pst. You can choose where to back up your files (save them somewhere other than your PC for true security), and whether you want Outlook to remind you to tackle this chore. If you need to restore the files later, open Outlook, and choose File Backup Open Backup. Browse to the .pst file you saved and open it.
Note: If you use Outlook on an Exchange Server ‚ which is frequently the case if your company provides you with an email account ‚ there won't be any .pst files on your system. That means you won't be able to back up your messages, contacts, and calendar yourself. No worries, though: Your Exchange administrator should be doing it for you.
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Backing Up Outlook Manually
You don't have to use extra software to back up Outlook ‚ you can do it manually. You just need to locate the .pst file that houses your Outlook information, and then copy that file to a different folder, or a removable disk such as a CD. When you want to restore the data, just copy the .pst file back to its original location.
Typically, Outlook keeps your email messages, calendar, and contacts in a file named Outlook.pst, which is located in My Computer C: Documents and Settings [Your Name] Local Settings Application Data Microsoft Outlook folder. (Your Name is your user account name.) If the file isn't there, you can find it by right-clicking the Outlook Today icon in Outlook, choosing Properties Advanced and looking in the Filename box. If you archive your old email messages, there will also be a file named Archive.pst in the same folder as your Outlook.pst file. To back up Outlook, just copy these files to a disk or another computer. To restore them, copy them back to their original locations.
If you use the Windows Address Book instead of Outlook for your contacts, then your contact information is kept in a file with the extension either .pab or .wab. If that's the case then you also need to back up the .pab or .wab file, along with your .pst file, to create a backup of your contact data.
8.6.5 Sharing Outlook on Two Computers
Using Outlook on two computers ‚ for example, a desktop at home, and a laptop you take with you on trips ‚ can be tricky because there's no apparent way to share email between the two computers. The email you send and receive on your laptop stays on the laptop, and the email you send and receive on your desktop stays on the desktop. And never the twain shall meet...or so it seems.
It turns out, you can keep all your mail and contacts in synch, just by copying a single file between the two computers. In Outlook, email and contact information is stored in a file that ends with the extension .pst (typically, the file's called outlook.pst). You can find it in My Computer C: Documents and Settings [Your Account] Local Settings Application Data Microsoft Outlook. To transfer all your email and contacts from one computer to another, simply copy the most recent outlook.pst file to the other machine.
So if all your email and contacts are on your desktop PC, but you're going to travel with your notebook, copy the outlook.pst file from your desktop to your notebook. (Save the file in My Computer C: Documents and Settings Your Account Local Settings Application Data Microsoft Outlook.) Then use Outlook on your laptop when you travel, as you normally would. When you get back from your trip, copy the outlook.pst file from your notebook back to your desktop PC, so all your mail and contacts are in synch.
8.6.6 Using Outlook to Keep Up with the News
With help from an add-in called Newsgator, Outlook can keep you current on news from around the world ‚ whether you're interested in international coverage from the New York Times , articles from New Scientist magazine, or postings from your favorite reptile-lovers Weblog.
Working inside Outlook, Newsgator gathers news using a system called RSS (Really Simple Syndication) ‚ one of the biggest phenomena to hit Web publishing since graphics became commonplace. RSS lets Web publishers distribute information in a format certain software can read. Thousands of general interest news sites and specialized publications publish news feeds in RSS format, including the New York Times , O'Reilly, MTV, CNN, Forbes , the New Yorker , and many blogs .
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Figure 8-19. Newsgator can gather news from thousands of different sources and let you read summaries of the articles it finds using Outlook. For the latest news, click the Refresh button.
You can download Newsgator for a free trial at http://www.newsgator.com. (If you decide to keep it, you'll be asked to fork over $29.)
Newsgator runs in Outlook as a toolbar across the top of the screen. The program checks for news on a schedule that you select, then , in the News folder, reports how many new articles it found from those sources. You can then read a synopsis of the article using Outlook (Figure 8-19).
To read the full article, click its link, and Internet Explorer opens the page with the article you want. To actually see the alerts, go to the News folder. You can search by keywords to find news feeds and then subscribe to the ones you want to receive. Also, when you're browsing the Web, if you come across a site that distributes a news feed, you'll see a small icon like that shown in Figure 8-20. To sign up for that feed, just right-click it and choose Subscribe; Newsgator adds it to your news roundup .
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Figure 8-20. If you're interested in receiving news feeds using Newsgator, look for a button that says XML or RSS on the sites you want to keep up with. Here, the New York Times site provides an XML button.
Tip: If you don't have Outlook, you can still read RSS news feeds using other programs, like NewsDesk (http://www.wildgrape.net) or SharpReader (http://www.sharpreader.com), both free to download. If you're interested in searching through RSS feeds, go to http://www.blogdigger.com, http://www.daypop.com, http://www. feedster .com, http://www. newsisfree .com or http://www.syndic8.com and enter a few words that describe the feed you're looking for.