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By David Coursey  |  Posted 2004-08-13 Print this article Print

Another reader wants MSN Messenger integrated into Outlook, something that has been tried, to a degree in the past, but seemed really clunky. He predicts, "If Outlook doesnt integrate IM, it will soon become obsolete," which I think is a stretch. Hed also like peer-to-peer file sharing in Outlook, mentioning Groove as a good example of how this might work. He agreed with my request for RSS support and would like to see a better interface for blogging generally, especially blog creation.
Some readers suggested Outlook add-ins, including one from my friend Pito Salas:
    "Anagram—This application works with Outlook and pulls and structures contact information out of emails. Simply, you select the text with the name, phone numbers, address etc. in the email, type control-c twice, and up pops a new Outlook contact record all properly filled out. It does similar things with appointments etc. Super useful and perhaps a more politically correct alternative to applications like Plaxo."
Along these lines my favorite, though not Outlook-related, is ieSpell, which adds spell check capabilities to Internet Explorer. This is valuable when you are writing online, such as in the Web interface for blog entries. Heres another add-on, this one for Microsoft Word that partially solves one of the suggestions from my column. Its called AddressFixer, and its free from Dymo, the LabelMaker company. This program allows you to highlight an address in Word, which the program then compares to a postal service database and corrects, adding a nine-digit ZIP code, standardizing abbreviations, etc. It also works as a small stand-alone app or from Palm desktop, but, alas, not from within Outlook. In the original column, I mentioned some issues I have with the categories feature in Outlook. A reader responded that categories really dont do enough:
    "It would be great if the categories, once created, could be used to create distribution lists. I have a few clients using Outlook as contact database and would love to take the work already done with categories and without duplicating the work, use them as distribution lists for bulk emailing."
She then goes on to say something I saw repeatedly in the messages I received: "If this functionality does exist, I havent been able to find any info on it." The issue of feature "discoverability" is a big one for Microsoft, which used Outlook XP as a lab for improving it, only to back away in Outlook 2003. I didnt get many comments regarding the rules feature in Outlook, but this one is very interesting and something Id use—now that a reader has suggested it to me:
    "The rules wizard should offer an option to create rules that run AFTER I read a message. That way I could let all incoming mail go to the Inbox, read the messages, and never have to move a message manually. Moving the messages upon receipt is the only option currently available. I have so many folders and subfolders for mail that on occasion I fail to see that I received a message from, say, my ex-wife or some inactive client whos checking on my availability."
I received far more responses than I can possibly put into a column, but all were read and appreciated, and some have now been shared. Thanks for writing and feel free to send more Outlook-related ideas. Correspondent David Coursey has been writing about Microsoft for nearly two decades and has seen many of his ideas eventually end up in products. Besides his columns and blog (, David also does consulting for technology companies. Drop him a line at Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging & Collaboration Center at for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.

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One of technology's most recognized bylines, David Coursey is Special Correspondent for, where he writes a daily Blog ( and twice-weekly column. He is also Editor/Publisher of the Technology Insights newsletter and President of DCC, Inc., a professional services and consulting firm.

Former Executive Editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk, Coursey has also been Executive Producer of a number of industry conferences, including DEMO, Showcase, and Digital Living Room. Coursey's columns have been quoted by both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and he has appeared on ABC News Nightline, CNN, CBS News, and other broadcasts as an expert on computing and the Internet. He has also written for InfoWorld, USA Today, PC World, Computerworld, and a number of other publications. His Web site is

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