13 Productivity-boosting Outlook utilities

Efficiently enter information into Outlook's Contact database and Calendar, update your Facebook status, manage your Tweets, and detach files with ease

by Tom Bunzel -- Getting up to date information into your Contacts database and Calendar is a key element to successful work flow for Microsoft Outlook users. Traditional input methods for the address book include using a card scanner or right-clicking on email addresses and saving them as a new contact.

But card scanners are imperfect and the right-click method works only for email addresses; you still need to enter other essential information.

[ Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook ]

Enter Anagram, an amazing artificial intelligence-based program that captures and converts information from an email, web page or any other text-based source and puts it into the appropriate fields either in a Contact form, or a Calendar appointment.

All you need to do is to select the relevant portion of text in the source document; for example, a set of personal contact information at the bottom of an email.

With the item selected you press the hot key – F12 – the program determines whether the information is for a Contact or Appointment, and puts all of the relevant information in the correct fields. You can check the items and make corrections before saving the Contact or Appointment item directly into Outlook.

You can try Anagram for free and there are various personal and professional versions available beginning at $34.95.

Not surprisingly with Outlook's popularity there are literally hundreds of other utilities available for working more efficiently with the program. Many of these involve synching information and come with whatever peripheral device or PDA you may use, such as the Palm or BlackBerry or can be found on companion and support sites.

But there are numerous web sites with other useful utilities and tools. CNET.com's download area has ShareO for synching data with team members, as well as backup and recovery utilities and other tools for working with Outlook contacts, calendars, tasks and email.

http://www.outlookutilities.com is a site devoted to "improving your Outlook" and features searchable tools for download and a set of Random Addins/Plugins directly on its main page.

Email tools include: RightFrom and SmartReply to coordinate email messages from Exchange Server; Infuzer and MasterCal to work with Calendar; InPlan for projects and tasks; and iMoveMail to work with email and attachments, to name just a few.

Recently the site added Ping.fm to schedule your Twitter status updates directly from Outlook. http://www.techhit.com/ is another web site with a comprehensive set of Outlook productivity tools and utilities, including:

SimplyFile

Intelligent filing assistant for Microsoft Outlook that lets you file outlook email messages in the right folder with just one click of a mouse. SimplyFile's folder prediction technology learns about your filing scheme and helps you file messages in the appropriate folder.

MessageSave

Archive Outlook Messages using backup, archive, process, share and save Outlook email messages as individual files. MessageSave is a great solution for email data retention, backup, archiving, sharing, avoiding mailbox bloat.

EZDetach

Save Attachments provides help managing email attachments. EZDetach will help you extract, remove, save attachments – manually or automatically, from one or multiple messages. Save time, and avoid mailbox overload.

FBLook

Update your status on Facebook, see your friend statuses and see the number of new requests from within Outlook with FBLook.

Twinbox

With Twinbox, you can manage, archive and search your Twitter tweets the way you do email in Outlook.

Depending on what you need to streamline your workflow in Outlook, check these sites and elsewhere online for a solution to your productivity issues – and check out Anagram for a really efficient way to enter information into your Contact database and Calendar.

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