Outlook Tips and Techniques - 04 Apr 2000


How can I invite people to a lunch meeting and include voting buttons so that they can choose what kind of sandwich they want for lunch?

You can't use Outlook voting buttons on a meeting request. The reason is that the Accept, Decline, and Tentative buttons that users see when they open a meeting request from the Inbox are themselves voting buttons that the meeting request form displays automatically. Outlook lets you ask only one question per message (i.e., use just one set of voting buttons), so the built-in buttons take precedence. Another complicating factor is that the meeting request form that users see is the IPM.Schedule.Meeting.Request form, which you can't customize.

What you can do is use a two-stage process: First, send a meeting request. Second, after all responses are in, send the definite attendees a voting button message to let them choose from your lunch menu.

Our marketing department sends a daily newsletter to the entire company. Can I let users reply to the message but not let them use Reply to All on the message?

The marketing department is probably sending to a distribution list (DL) in the Global Address List (GAL), so I can understand why the department wouldn't want users to respond to everyone on that list. One way to handle this situation is to instruct the marketing department to put the DL recipient in the Bcc box. That way, no one can see exactly whom the message was sent to or reply to all the recipients. Rather than leave the To box blank, which some people might interpret as junk mail, create a public folder for archiving the daily messages and put that folder's address in the To box. You can set permissions on the folder so that only the marketing department can add new items to it. In this case, users who click Reply to All will get a message back from the folder saying that they didn't have the access permission to add to the folder.

If you want to completely remove the possibility of anyone using the Reply to All command, create a custom message form to use for distributing the newsletters by following these steps:

  1. Create a new message. Include any boilerplate text that appears in every newsletter and the usual To addresses.
  2. Choose Tools, Forms, Design This Form to put the message into design view.
  3. Switch to the (Actions) tab.
  4. Double-click the Reply to All action to display the Form Action Properties dialog box, which Screen 1 shows.
  5. Clear the Enabled check box, then click OK.
  6. Publish the form to the Organization Forms Library.

The marketing department folks can now compose their newsletter by choosing the form from the Organization Forms Library (Tools, Forms, Choose Form). When users open the message, they won't even see the Reply to All command, only Reply and Forward. Note that you can disable the Forward command, too, if you want to make it more difficult for someone to forward confidential information outside your organization.

Can I create a recurring appointment that extends over a 10-week period, then go to the 5th week and modify the recurrence pattern to change the dates only for appointments from that week forward?

No, the procedure you propose would affect all instances of the recurring appointment. If you want to use a new recurrence pattern, you need to create a new appointment.

Why doesn't Sent Items appear in the drop-down list when I try to open a folder in another mailbox with File, Open, Other User's Folder?

Microsoft included only Calendar, Contacts, Inbox, Journal, Notes, and Tasks on the list of folders that you can easily open with the Open, Other User's Folder option. Who knows why they omitted Sent Items?

To open the folder, you need to use a different method. The other user needs to grant you Reviewer access on the root of his or her mailbox. Then, you need to choose Tools, Services, bring up the properties for the Microsoft Exchange Server service, and add that mailbox through the Advanced tab. After that, you'll see all the folders in that mailbox for which you have access listed in the folder list. A bonus is that you'll be able to add shortcuts to those folders to your Outlook Bar.

Can I reformat the Memo style for printing contacts to change the order of the fields?

I'm afraid you can't change the fields' order. Outlook doesn't let you change much of anything on the Memo print style. You can change the font in which Outlook displays field names and their contents, and you can add a header or footer. However, if you want to change anything else, you need to use some other method. For contacts, especially in Outlook 2000, a mail merge to Microsoft Word is a good solution. You can define a merge document with the fields you need in the right order, save it, and reuse it any time you need a new printout.

When I'm printing from a table view, how can I get Outlook to use the entire width of the page?

When you print from a table view, what you see on the screen is what you get in the printout. You need to adjust the column widths manually until you get the look you want. The secret is to turn off automatic column sizing in the view settings first. Choose View, Current View, Customize Current View, then click Other Settings. Clear the Automatic column sizing check box.

How can you save photos from JPEG format files in the notes field of a Contact item? I tried using Insert, File and Insert, Object, but I get only shortcuts or very grainy icon representations.

Some companies want to include pictures with their contacts. I'll tell you how to put a JPEG image into a standard Contact item so that you see the image when you first open the item. But trust me—you don't want to do this! (I'll show you a better way.)

The procedure isn't difficult. Open the JPEG image in your Web browser, then right-click the image and choose Copy. Now switch to an open Contact item, and choose Edit, Paste Special. In the Paste Special dialog box, choose Picture (DIB), then click OK. Your image will now be big and beautiful in the Contact item.

Using this technique is a bad idea because it makes the contact item huge. If you copy a 75KB image, the resulting contact can balloon to 1MB or more. A few such contacts will use up your available disk space.

If you've already stored the images somewhere on your network, an alternative is to add a control to a custom Outlook Contact form to display the stored image when the user opens the item. Here are the step-by-step details:

  1. Choose Tools, Forms, Design a Form, and choose the Contact form.
  2. Switch to the (P.2) page. Choose Form, Rename Page, and give it the name Picture.
  3. On the Field Chooser, switch to Miscellaneous Fields or All Contact Fields, and drag the User 1 field to the Picture page. (I use the User 1 field because it makes the code very easy to write. If you're already using this field, you can pick one of the other User fields.) Right-click the label for User 1, choose Properties, and change the caption to Full path to picture: (or whatever caption you think is appropriate). Resize both the label and the User 1 text box as needed.
  4. Click Toolbox, then click the Image control (at bottom right, if you haven't added any custom controls to the Toolbox). With the mouse, click the form and hold down the left mouse button as you drag a rectangle that is the size you want to use to display your pictures. Right-click this new control on the form, choose Properties, and change the name of the control to imgPicture.
  5. In the Toolbox, click the Command Button control, then click your form to create a new button. Right-click the button, choose Properties, then change the name to cmdDisplay and the caption to Display.
  6. Add the code in Listing 1 to your form.

You can now publish and run the form, add an image file path to the text box, and click Display to test the image. After you save the item, you don't need to click Display unless you change the location of the file and want to test it. The picture will appear automatically when the user opens the item, as Screen 2 shows (that's my pet turtle, by the way). I found this method works fine for .bmp, .gif, and .jpg files, but not for .tif and .pcx files.

Can I look up contacts in public folders with the Look up Contact feature?

When you receive a message, you can open it, right-click the From address, and choose Look up Contact. Outlook will display a matching record from your Contacts folder if a match for the email address exists.

However, this technique works only with your default Contacts folder. Outlook doesn't search other folders containing contacts, even if you've added them to the Outlook Address Book.

How can I recover data from a corrupted Personal Address Book (PAB) file?

PAB files generally don't suffer from corruption, but I've encountered several cases lately in which users could no longer open their PABs. Outlook doesn't offer a PAB repair tool comparable to the Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe) for personal folders (.pst) and offline folders (.ost) files. I recommend trying scandisk.exe to repair disk errors that might be causing problems for the PAB. You can also try importing the PAB into an Outlook Contacts folder. However, if neither of those techniques works, your only hope of recovering data from the PAB might be to use a hexadecimal editor such as UltraEdit to access the raw data.

By the way, one cause of PAB corruption is opening the file in Word while you have Word's AutoSave feature turned on. (Yes, Word can open PAB files, though there's no good reason to do so. Using the PAB as a mail merge source is a much safer way to reuse the data.) Word displays the data to a tab-delimited list. However, if you let Word save the PAB file, the file will no longer be usable in Outlook. If I want to open a PAB in Word for some reason, I immediately use Word's File, Save As command to make a copy so that Word doesn't damage the original PAB.

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