Outlook Tips and Techniques - 29 Nov 1999

As a meeting organizer, how can I cancel a meeting and remove it from the attendees' calendars when I delete the meeting from my calendar?

When you delete a meeting from your Calendar folder, you see the dialog box in Screen 1 and ideally choose Send cancellation and delete meeting. If you delete the meeting without sending a cancellation, check the Deleted Items folder. If the appointment is still there, you can drag it back to the Calendar folder and delete it again to get the option to send a cancellation. (I have my Deleted Items folder set to retain items for a few days before finally deleting them; this delay helps me recover from life's little accidents, such as deleting a meeting without canceling it.) If the appointment is no longer in Deleted Items, your best choice is probably to send out an email message to the attendees notifying them of the cancellation.

How can I make messages stand out in recipients' Inbox folders? (revisited)

In the August 1999 Reader to Reader department, Ric Liang discussed how to use Outlook's Message Flag feature to make messages turn red and even to make a reminder pop up in other users' Inbox folders. He noted that you need to send the messages using Rich Text Format (RTF) if you want the technique to work with Outlook recipients outside your organization. I have since discovered that RTF isn't necessary because Outlook places the flag information in the Internet message headers, rather than in properties that work only with RTF messages.

To test this discovery, I sent myself some messages in Plain Text format through an Internet account, then looked at the headers. The messages contained SMTP header fields such as these:

Reply-By: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 17:00:00 +0400
X-Message-Flag: Follow up

The Reply-By field corresponds to the due date on the message flag, and the X-Message-Flag is the type of flag.

I wonder whether other Internet mailers besides Outlook are displaying the information about the Reply-By request date, which the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request for Comments (RFC) 2076 defines as the "Latest time at which a reply is requested (not demanded)." The X prefix means that the X-Message-Flag is an application-specific field; therefore, non-Microsoft mail programs are less likely to support it. Knowing that you can exchange information about the reply due dates with people using other mail programs would make Outlook's Message Flag feature even more useful.

We use a lot of custom fields in one Contacts folder and usually view them on the All Fields tab. Can I make All Fields the default tab that appears when the user opens the contact?

Yes, you can change the default tab by following the three-part process of modifying a form, making it the default for a folder, and updating existing items. In this case, your custom Contacts form needs this code in the Item_Open event handler:

   Function Item_Open()
   FormPage "All Fields"
End Function

Publish the form to Organization Forms or the folder's Forms library. On the Properties sheet for the folder, make your new form the default. If you're using Outlook 2000, you can use the new Outlook 2000 Existing Items Converter to convert existing contacts. Otherwise, use one of the scripts or other methods listed at http://www.slipstick.com/dev/newdefaultform.htm.

New items will now open to the All Fields tab. However, you can't automatically switch the display to a particular category under All Fields. The All Fields page always displays the User-defined fields in this item category first.

In an Outlook 98 Journal entry, clicking the button next to Contact displayed the entire Address Book, including the Global Address List (GAL). But in Outlook 2000, clicking the Contacts button shows only Outlook folders. Why can't I see the GAL anymore?

I really hate it when Microsoft makes a minor change to the user interface (UI) and a major change to what goes on under the hood. That kind of change is exactly what happened in the Journal form between Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000.

In Outlook 98, Microsoft linked the field labeled Contact to a property called Contact. The Contact field is a keywords, or multivalued, field, which means that the field can hold more than one name, either typed in or selected from the Select Names dialog box that you open by clicking the Address Book button.

In Outlook 2000, the Contacts field at the bottom of the Journal form is not the same as the Contact field you saw in Outlook 98. Instead, Microsoft tied the Contacts field to a new Outlook 2000 property called Links. The Links property gives you greater flexibility because you can link different types of Outlook items to Contact items, which lets you control the entries you see when you switch to a Contact's Activities tab. However, the Links property works only with Contacts. That's why you don't see the GAL when you click the Contacts button.

Outlook 98's Contact property is still in Outlook 2000, however. In your Journal folder, switch to the Entry List view, and use the Field Chooser to add both the Contact and Contacts fields to the view. For new contacts you've created with Outlook 2000, you'll see the same names in both fields. Outlook 2000 automatically updates the older Contact field to contain the same information as the new Contacts field.

For older contacts created with Outlook 98, you'll see data only under Contact. However, if you open the item with Outlook 2000 and save it, Outlook automatically copies the information from the Contact field to the new Contacts field so that the Links property can use it.

Can I use a public folder Contacts list in a Microsoft Word mail merge?

Yes, you can use any Contacts folder—in Public Folders, your Exchange Server mailbox, or a Personal Folders file—as long as you've listed the folder in the Outlook Address Book. To check the folder settings, bring up its Properties page, then switch to the Outlook Address Book tab. Make sure that you've selected the Show this folder as an e-mail Address Book check box.

When you use Tools, Mail Merge in Word and click the Get Data button, you see an option for Use Address Book. In the Use Address Book dialog box, select Outlook Address Book. Then, in the Mail Merge from Contacts Folder dialog box, which Screen 2 shows, select the Contacts folder that you want to use for the merge.

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