Outlook Tips and Techniques - 01 Jul 1998

Does Exchange provide a way to organize entries in the Personal Address Book (PAB) with categories such as business addresses or personal addresses?

No, you can't categorize PAB entries in Exchange. Microsoft addressed Exchange's lack of organizing tools for the PAB to some degree with the Outlook Contacts folder. The main organizing mechanism in Contacts is the Category field. The Category field is a keyword-type field, which means it can hold multiple values. You can apply more than one category to a contact (as in the case of a business contact who is also a personal friend), as you can see in Screen 1.

The Category mechanism is deficient, though, because you can't use it to query Contacts during a Microsoft Word mail merge or to filter or sort Contacts when you are using the Outlook Address Book (OAB) to assign recipients to a message or appointment. A workaround for this deficiency is to apply a filter to the Contacts folder for the category you want, and then copy the filtered contact records to a new temporary folder for Contact items. Because Outlook automatically adds the temporary folder to the OAB, you can use it for mail merge and see it as an address list within the OAB.

Can I make Outlook start up in my public Contacts folder rather than in my Inbox?

Yes, you can change Outlook's start-up folder. The /select switch, available when you start Outlook, lets you specify the folder that Outlook displays when it first opens. The command to open a public Contacts folder would look like this:

<path> \Outlook.exe/
	* select "Outlook:	* \\Public Folders	* All Public Folders	* Contacts"
	

where <path> is the full path to Outlook.exe on your system, usually C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office. Follow the path with a space, the /select switch, another space, and then the folder path within Outlook to the folder you want to open. Enclose the folder path in quotation marks if the folder path contains spaces. This technique doesn't offer a way to get Outlook to open the specified folder and also display the Outlook Bar or Folder List.

Here's an easier method to start Outlook in your mailbox Contacts folder, rather than in a public Contacts folder. Choose Tools, Options, then switch to the General tab. At the bottom, under Startup in this folder, select Contacts, then click OK. You could also pick one of the other default folders in your mailbox, such as Calendar.

How do I select all contacts from postal code 73000 to 75999?

The ZIP/Postal Code field is alphanumeric to accommodate the many postal code variations around the world. Outlook doesn't let you use any wildcards, so you can't select all five-digit postal codes beginning with 73, 74, or 75. You can create a new formula field showing only the first two digits of the postal code, but that technique won't do you much good, because you can't sort, group, or filter on a calculated field in Outlook. Therefore, your best bet is to sort the Contacts folder by the ZIP/Postal Code field. Locate the first contact with the 73### postal code, and select that contact and the contacts that follow, through ZIP/Postal Code 75999.

How do I keep Outlook from dialing my Internet Service Provider (ISP) whenever it starts?

This problem is very common on Windows 95 computers that use a modem to dial into a local ISP and that also connect to a Microsoft Exchange server on the local LAN. Even if the TCP/IP protocol is not specifically bound to the network adapter card (NAC), Win95 acts as if it were. Therefore, when you start Outlook, it attempts to find the Exchange server, first by trying to locate a Domain Name System (DNS) server. If no DNS server is on the LAN, Win95 starts to dial out to find one on the Internet. You can usually resolve the problem with one of these methods:

Method #1. Turn off Win95's Internet autodial feature. If the client has Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 3.x, in Control Panel, Internet, on the Connection tab, clear the Connect to the Internet as needed option. If the client has IE 4.0, select Connect to the Internet using a local area network. Both techniques turn off Internet autodialing for all applications, not just Outlook; therefore, they might be less useful in the long run than the other solutions.

Method #2. If you use TCP/IP to connect to the Exchange server, add a HOSTS file on the client computer to point to the server. To create an appropriate HOSTS file to connect to an Exchange Server using TCP/IP, you need to know the server's exact IP address. Then follow these steps:

  1. In Notepad, open the HOSTS.SAM file you find in the Windows folder on the client computer, and save it as HOSTS, without a file extension.
  2. Edit HOSTS to include a pointer to the Exchange server's IP address by saving the following two lines to the HOSTS file:
    127.0.0.1	localhost
    n.n.n.n		<exchange server name>

    where n.n.n.n represents the numeric IP address for the Exchange server and <exchange server name> represents the server name for the Microsoft Exchange Server service you see in the user's Outlook profile.

  3. Change the client's remote procedure call (RPC) binding order to use TCP/IP first. Use Notepad to create a text file that contains the following four lines (the second line is blank):

    REGEDIT4

    \[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWAREMicrosoft\Exchange\Exchange Provider\]
    "Rpc_Binding_Order"="ncacn_ip_
    tcp,ncacn_np"
    

Save the text file with a .reg extension, and double-click on it to update the Registry. You can reuse the .reg file to update other computers in the same way. If you use TCP/IP on the LAN, this method is the best choice. This modification also helps the client connect to the server noticeably faster.

Method #3. If you don't need TCP/IP to connect to the Exchange server, remove TCP/IP from the RPC binding order for the Outlook client. Create the text file that Step 3 (above) describes, but in the line for "Rpc_Binding_Order," include the appropriate binding order entries, separated by commas, for your protocol. For example, you might use

"Rpc_Binding_Order"="netbios,  ncacn_np"

if you want Outlook to try to reach the server first with NetBEUI, then with Named Pipes, which will bind to whatever protocol is available. (The server, of course, must be using the same network protocol.) For more information about the DNS and RPC binding orders, see these Microsoft Knowledge Base articles:

"XCLN: Exchange Client for Windows 95 Starts Very Slowly" (http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q152/2/34.asp)

"XCLN: Troubleshooting Startup of Windows Client Using TCP/IP" (http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/ articles/q155/0/48.asp)

"XCLN: Improving Windows Client Startup Times" (http://support.microsoft.com/ support/kb/articles/q136/5/16.asp)

"XGEN: Changing the RPC Binding Order" (http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q163/5/76.asp)

In my profile, I have a second mailbox called Feedback. When I reply to a message sent to Feedback, Outlook saves the message in the Sent Items folder of my regular mailbox. Can I configure Outlook to save the message in the Sent Items folder of the Feedback mailbox?

No, because you sent the message, Outlook will always save it in your Sent Items, not in the Feedback mailbox. However, with the cooperation of the Feedback mailbox's owner, manually moving the messages that Feedback sends to the Feedback mailbox is relatively simple.

Have the owner of the Feedback mailbox—probably the Exchange administrator, who created the mailbox for a team to use to respond to feedback messages—grant you Contributor permission for the Sent Items folder in that mailbox. This permission gives you the right to add items to that folder.

In your mailbox's Sent Items folder, switch to the By Sender view. Then, simply drag all the items with the From address for the Feedback mailbox to the Sent Items folder in that mailbox. Instead of dragging, you can select the items, then choose Edit, Move to Folder.

I have set up public folders for common Contacts, Journal, and Tasks items. However, when I open a contact from the public folder and create a journal entry for this contact, Outlook doesn't update the public Journal folder. Instead, Outlook stores the update in the Journal folder in my mailbox. How can I store the Journal items for the public Contacts in the public Journal folder?

Two design details conspire to make using public folders to track contacts and associated journal entries difficult, if not impossible. First, when you create a new Journal item from a contact and click Save and Close, Outlook saves the item in the Journal folder in your mailbox—even if the contact came from a public folder. Second, when you view the Journal page of a Contact item, Outlook displays only the Journal entries from your local mailbox, not those from a public Journal folder.

Let's consider a few workarounds. For the first problem, try saving Journal items manually to the public Journal folder. When you create a new Journal entry, don't click Save and Close to save it. Instead, choose File, Move to Folder, and place the entry in the Journal folder under Public Folders. The problem with this technique is that you need to remember to use Move instead of Save every time you want to put a Journal entry in a public folder.

Another approach is to use the PubJournal utility that you'll find on my Web site at http://www.slipstick.com/exchange/pubjournal.htm. PubJournal scans the Journal folder in your mailbox for entries related to a public Contacts folder. The utility then copies the entries to a public PubJournal folder that you've added to Favorites in your mailbox. From there, Exchange Server takes over, synchronizing the contents of the Favorites-PubJournal folder with the one on the server. After Exchange synchronizes the two folders, the Journal entries you created will be available to everyone through the public folder.

The PubJournal method has some limitations. PubJournal is an unsupported free utility; you have to troubleshoot problems yourself. Also, the utility handles only new Journal entries. If you later modify an entry in the mailbox Journal folders, PubJournal won't copy the changes to the corresponding entry in the PubJournal folder.

Neither technique addresses the other design problem. Even if you get the Journal entries into a public folder, you won't see them on the Journal tab for the contact. Instead, you will see Journal entries for this contact only from your mailbox Journal folder. The best solution is to create a new view for the public Journal folder that lists the Journal entries by contact. The By Contact view that comes with Outlook is a timeline-type view. To create a table-type view, modify the Entry List view:

  1. In the public Journal folder, choose View, Current View, Entry List to display the Journal entries in a table.
  2. Click the Group By Box icon on the toolbar, or choose View, Group By Box.
  3. Drag the column header for Contact to the Group By box, as Screen 2 shows. Outlook will now group the Journal items by contact, sorted alphabetically.
  4. You can turn off the Group By box. Click the Group By Box icon on the toolbar, or choose View, Group By Box.

I want to schedule a meeting with the same individual at the same time on July 1, 6, 8, 14, 17, and 20. Because these dates don't recur in a pattern, do I have to create six different appointments, or can I schedule them in an easier way?

You can handle this situation in two ways. You can create a recurring appointment, and then delete instances that don't match the dates you need. Or you can create one appointment, and then copy it to other dates.

Method #1: Create a recurring appointment. The advantage of using a recurring appointment is that, if you need to change any details related to the meeting, you can change them for all dates by editing the one recurring appointment. In the example, you need to schedule the following dates: Wednesday, July 1; Monday, July 6; Wednesday, July 8; Tuesday, July 14; Friday, July 17; and Monday, July 20.

To use this method,

  1. Create a recurring appointment for every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday starting July 1 and ending July 20.
  2. Delete the appointments for Friday, July 3; Tuesday, July 7; Friday, July 10; Monday, July 13; and Wednesday, July 15. Make sure you always choose Delete this one when Outlook asks you whether you want to delete the specific appointment or the entire series.

Method #2: Create one appointment, then copy it. This method may be faster, depending on the number of appointments you need to create. The trick is in the technique you use to copy the appointment to other dates. Here's how to do it:

  1. In the Calendar folder, make sure you're using the Day/Week/Month view. Use View, Current View to switch, if necessary.
  2. Create and save a nonrecurring appointment for the first date, in this case July 1.
  3. Hold down the Ctrl key, then drag the appointment to the next date (July 6 in this example) in the Date Navigator (the monthly calendar at the upper-right corner of the day and week views). If you're viewing an entire month, you won't see the Date Navigator; instead, Ctrl+drag to the date in the monthly calendar view.
  4. Repeat Step 3 for the other dates, using the Ctrl+drag technique to copy the appointment to those dates, too.

When you Ctrl+drag an appointment to a date in the Date Navigator, Outlook creates an exact copy of the appointment, using the same start and end times as the original appointment.

Can I make a form that closes without saving changes?

In my April 1998 column, I showed you how to modify a meeting request form to show the availability of a group of people or resources. If you use that form as described, you might find that, when you close it, you get a prompt to save changes (you probably altered the item by picking a new date). I intended you to use this form only for viewing schedules, not for arranging meetings, so you don't need to save changes.

You can avoid the Do You Want to Save Changes? message by adding another simple function to the Visual Basic Script (VBScript) for this form:

Function Item_Close()
	Item.Close(1)
End Function

This code forces the item to close without giving you a prompt to save changes. You can use this technique on any form that you want to use only to display information, not to create Outlook items.

This form, with the new Item_Close function, is available on the Exchange Administrator Web site at http://www.winntmag.com/exchange. You'll also find code to turn off the Standard toolbar while you're using the Form, to prevent people from accidentally sending it. The same form on my Web site (http://www.slipstick.com/ olforms/availvue/htm) includes instructions for completing the form by adding a group of people or resources whose availability you want to track.

How can I turn a Microsoft Excel worksheet, such as a company expense form, into an Outlook form?

You might think you can drag the worksheet into a public folder, but that technique just copies the document into the folder—it doesn't create a form. To add a worksheet to a form, you need to use the Insert Object command to embed the worksheet.

  1. Open a new message.
  2. With the insertion point in the message body, choose Insert, Object.
  3. In the Insert Object dialog box, choose Create New. Under Object Type, choose Microsoft Excel Worksheet, then click OK.
  4. When the embedded worksheet appears in the message body, add column headings and any formulas you need for your calculations, as Screen 3 shows.
  5. Click outside the worksheet to return to the message itself, adding a subject and recipient if you haven't done so already.

How do I design forms with Outlook 98?

As you might have discovered, Outlook 98 changes a few things with regard to forms design. Here are a few tips to put you on the right track. As in Outlook 97, you need to start with an existing form as a model, but Outlook 98 now includes several ways to select a starter form:

  • In any folder other than Outlook Today, from the Tools menu, choose Forms, Design a Form. In the Design Form dialog box (shown in Screen 4), use the Look In list to choose from the available sources of forms—both forms in your Outlook folders and templates saved as .oft files. Select the form you want to use as your model, then click Open.
  • You can also get to the Design Form dialog box from within any open Outlook item. Just choose Tools, Forms, Design a Form, and proceed as described above.
  • To use a particular message or other Outlook item, open the item, and choose Tools, Forms, Design This Form.

In Outlook 98, some standard forms have new tabs such as the Online page on the Appointment and Meeting Request forms, which you can use to set up online meetings. (Microsoft has renamed the Meeting Planner page on these forms Attendee Availability.) You might need to resize these forms (i.e., make them wider), so you can see the (Properties) and (Actions) pages on the far right, as Screen 5 shows. The tabs with names in parentheses relate to form design.

The command for publishing a form has also moved to the Tools, Forms menu on any open Outlook item, whether or not it is in design mode. The menu offers two choices: Publish Form and Publish Form As. These options work like the Save and Save As commands for Microsoft Office documents. When you first publish a form, Outlook will prompt you for a location, display name, and name for the form. If you subsequently make changes to the form and want to save those changes, replacing the existing form, use Publish Form. If you want to make a copy of the form under a new form name, use Publish Form As.

If you want to go beyond the basics of modifying the layout of existing forms, check out these resources:

  • "Building on Outlook 98" (http://www.microsoft.com/msdn/news/feature/ 032598/)
  • "Microsoft Outlook Object Model for Outlook 98" (http://outlook.useast.net/outlook/outlook_98_object_model.htm)
  • microsoft.public.outlook.program_forms newsgroup. If your local ISP doesn't carry this newsgroup, look for it on the msnews.microsoft.com news server.
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