Get OrganizeróAnd Change Your Outlook
Check out the newest way to organize your mail and your folders.
by Dave Trowbridge
One thing thatís been overlooked
during the brouhaha between the DOJ and Microsoft is the companyís role in
creating hundreds of ecological niches for small companies who profit by
filling the gaps in
An excellent example of this is a
product called Nelson Organizer, from Caelo Software (Nelson,
Nelson is an add-in for Outlook and, so, does not change the functioning of the program in any way. (You can switch between Nelson and Outlook using a menu button that appears in the tool bar of each program and Nelson can be set to run automatically whenever Outlook does.) What Nelson does is add an additional interface that is far more useful than the standard Outlook presentation of messages and folders by automatically organizing mail into several different kinds of folders not found in Outlook. These include by correspondent, date received, attachment, and bulk mail (mail not specifically addressed to you).
The basic Nelson interface consists of four windows (See Fig) and a set of tabs at the bottom. The tabs select the view displayed by the upper left-hand window: Hot, Correspondent, Bulk Mail, Date, Attachment, and Search. The upper right-hand window displays the contents of whatever folder is selected in this window, the lower right-hand windows the contents of whatever message is selected above and the lower left-hand windows a view of your Outlook folders.
Selecting Hot gives you a view of whatever Nelson folders
you tag as hot, so you can have a mix of by-date, by correspondent, and by
attachment. This is, perhaps, the most useful view and the one most people will
spend most of their time in. Selecting Correspondent gives you an automatically
generated list of the people who have sent you mail. Bulk Mail, of course,
displays all mail not specifically addressed to you. Date sorts mail by New
Since Time (the time being the last time you reset the
folder), Today, Yesterday, This Week, Last Week, and, then, by month. Attachment sorts by type of attachment, allowing you to quickly find a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, JPEG image, and so forth. You can drag messages between folders just as in Outlook.
The Search tab is Nelsonís biggest win. It allows you to search any and all folders by keyword and to save searches for repeated use. It searches the subject, message body, and address information and supports wildcards and the simple Boolean operators and, or, and near (within ten words). Searching is extremely fast. Having used this feature, I find it hard to understand why Microsoft left it out, but the fact that they did is good news for Caelo: this feature alone is worth the cost of the program ($29.95 single copy, discounts and site licenses are available).
Nelson is not without its weaknesses. Although the program enables you to reply and forward mail from within its interface, I could never get this feature to work. Technical support was very helpful, but they had only run across this problem once before and could only, after all possibilities were exhausted, suggest that I reinstall Outlook. Since I can still reply merely by opening the message (which puts one into the Outlook interface), I havenít bothered yet and may notóitís not a big deal.
Another weaknessówell, not weakness, but an obvious feature not yet implementedóis the inability to delete attachments from within the attachment windows, or to automatically save attachments into designated file folders. Outlook stores everything in one gigantic file, making it a necessity to save attachments into file folders if you want access to them after youíve archived your old mail (if you donít, the Outlook PST file will eventually fill up your hard disk and slow your mail processing to a crawl). However, the Caelo folks tell me they are considering adding these features and, even without them, no one who relies on Outlook should hesitate even a moment to install Nelson.
Review printed in Computer Technology Review
July 2000 (graphic and screen shot excluded).