Posts tagged Outlook

DROE Tool Source Code (Finally!)

I can’t believe it has taken me over two years to get this code cleaned up and posted!  In that time I have changed companies, moved my family across the country, started a new job, bought a house, sold a house, and dealt with some health issues.  Even then, I can’t believe this has taken so long and I am sorry for the delay!

I realize that many people have probably moved on to other tools. Nonetheless, here it is (click here to download ZIP file). In this ZIP file you will find all of the AHK code that runs the current 0.5 alpha01 version plus some newer improvements, fixes, and mods that I have been using privately but never released. One of the major new features you will find in here is the ability to parse note text as it is submitted and automatically create tasks in Outlook. I was using this code for the better part of a year, but I haven’t tested it in a while since I am not currently managing tasks in Outlook.

Note that this ZIP file does NOT represent a fully tested or stable release of the DROE_Tool. This is simply a release of all of the source code that goes into the DROE_Tool for those of you that like to tinker with AHK code (and VBS code) and would like to customize the tool for your own needs. The normal warranty disclaimers apply:

  • NO WARRANTY: All software, information, and services provided by are provided on an “AS IS” basis with NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTY OF ANY KIND.
  • LIMITATION ON LIABILITY: Neither nor its proprietors accept responsibility or liability for damages or losses that may result from the use of this content. While every effort is made to test the content, it may still contain errors, omissions, or latent defects. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Note that this code takes advantage of newer features in AutoHotKey and must be run or compiled using a fairly recent version of AutoHotKey (formerly known as AutoHotKey_L) which is available here:

Good luck, and happy coding!

Strip Outlook Attachments and Replace with Links

UPDATE OCT 2009: Reader jumpjack has created a Google Code project for this macro. You can download the latest source code on the project page.

There are many good reasons to strip attachments from your email messages. The main reason for me is that I often embed email messages into my Outlook tasks for quick reference. Since some tasks have multiple emails (each with multiple attached files), I need a way to keep the task size manageable. So, I simply strip the attachments before embedding the email into the task. Another reason to strip attachments is to improve Outlook performance. Smaller PST files are less likely to be corrupted and are faster to search and index.

The Outlook VBA macro below is one easy way to strip attachments from your messages. Simply select one or more messages in the Outlook explorer window, then activate the macro. The result is shown in the screen shot below. As you can see, all of the attachments throughout the email are numbered and replaced with links at the top of the message. There is even a hyperlink to the folder containing the attachments. The macro also saves a text copy of the original email message along with the attachments for future reference.

You’ll notice that there is still one small attachment remaining called “Attachments Removed”. This is added so that the paperclip icon in Outlook is still active, which indicates that the message has (or had) attachments.

The attachments archive folder is organized with one folder per email, as shown below. The folders are named using the date of the message, the sender name, and the subject line. At the end of the year, you can grab the whole collection and zip it up for archive purposes. Since the links are hard coded into the emails, you’ll want to be consistent with your folder locations. That is why I simply use “C:\Outlook Attachments\” along with the year. If I ever want to restore some old messages and be able to browse the file attachments, I know exactly where to put them.

Backup All Outlook Contacts to VCard in 3 Easy Steps

For some reason, the Microsoft Outlook developers never really embraced the vCard format, and did not provide adequate ways to import/export to this format.  The “File > Import and Export…” menu only has ways to import vCards, and no options to export them.  Because of this, various tools and add-ins have appeared that allow you to backup/export your Outlook contacts to vCard, and some of them even cost money!  Why should you have to pay to back up your contacts?

Well, you don’t.  It turns out there is an easy (but non-obvious) way to do this in Outlook without any additional tools or add-ins.  Here it is in 3 easy steps:

STEP 1: Select all contacts in your Outlook contact folder (CTRL-A).

STEP 2: Select “Forward as vCard” from the Actions menu.

Forward as vCard


Handy Outlook Attachment Reminder Macro

Have you ever had one of those “oh shit” moments where two seconds after sending an email you realized something was missing?  And you know, by using the Outlook “Recall Message” feature, you’re just going to draw even more attention to your mistake.  It’s like a highway accident… people will open recalled messages before anything else in their Inbox just to see what you might have screwed up.

Here’s one easy way to prevent that from happening: use this Outlook VBA macro to automatically scan your outgoing messages and stop incomplete emails & invites before they get sent.   This macro will check for missing attachments on messages & meeting invites where you probably meant to attach something.  It will also check for blank subject lines, as well as blank locations in meeting invites.

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ClearContext and My Quest for an Empty Inbox

In a previous post I talked about my quest for an empty inbox and all the tools I tried along the way. Well, I’m at it again. My previous tool of choice, Taglocity, has taken a turn toward online social/collaborative email in their 2.0 release. I’m afraid that 99% of the email I handle is work related, and our big lumbering IT department would never allow a rogue server, inside or outside the firewall, collecting corporate data. Likewise, getting said lumbering IT department to establish their own server would be equally unlikely. The social/collaborative approach might be the next big thing, but I need help now. The final nail in the coffin was that some of the features that originally sold me on Taglocity 1.x are no longer supported in their 2.0 beta release. Given the new direction, those features won’t likely return.

So where does that leave me? Well, I went back to my notes and started to think about what kind of help I really need. Here are the requirements I came up with:

  1. Need a quick way to triage and file email. Filing must be effortless, otherwise I will resist doing it
  2. Needs to be a stable tool that works well with Outlook 2003 (yes, I’m still stuck there… see comment above related to the big lumbering IT department).
  3. Need to strip out the spam and low-priority reference email & notifications
  4. Need reminders for my own actions as well as follow-ups for requests I send to others
  5. Must fit into my GTD workflow… In general, that means I need a way to create tasks and appointments from email and somehow tie related tasks/emails/appointments/notes together to form a “project”.

After recasting my net and re-evaluating the latest versions of all the tools I had previously considered, I came across a gem that I hadn’t given a chance the first time around: ClearContext IMS. It seemed to meet all of the needs I described above, and there was even a trial version available… Off I went.


After using the tool for over a month now, I am starting to see some nice benefits from the various features. Here’s a look at the highlights as well as some improvement opportunities for the ClearContext development team…

FILE MESSAGE, FILE THREAD. ClearContext does a fantastic job with filing (my #1 requirement above). One of the best features is being able to bring up the topic selection dialog (ALT-P) and type just a few characters of the topic name to narrow down the list. ALT-M will file it from there (no mouse required). What is especially nice is that your don’t have to remember any prefix or top level folder name since a match even in the middle of the topic name will select it. Additionally, You can choose to file the original message while typing your reply right from inside the reply window. Nice touch!

Two needed improvements for topic filing are:

  1. Please, please, please guys add a >> READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY >>