Outlook Tips and Techniques - 13 Mar 2001

Why can't I see tasks, appointments, and journal items in chronological order on the Activities tab of a contact item?

You can add new fields to the view on the Activities tab by right-clicking the column headings and choosing Field Chooser. Then, just drag any field to the view. The main problem is that the AppointmentItem, TaskItem, and JournalItem objects in Outlook don't share a common Date/Time field that you can use to put them all into chronological order. Figure 1 shows an Activities view modified to show the Start date for journal and appointment items and the Start Date for task items, but each of those fields is specific to just one type of item.

The Date/Time fields that these items have in common—Sent, Received, Created, Modified—provide information about the item itself, not about the event or task that the item represents. Unfortunately, the lack of a common field means that you can't display all types of activities in chronological order in one Activities page view.

Can I set a reminder for tasks that I assign to other people?

When you assign a task to someone, Outlook automatically turns off the reminder on your local copy and doesn't apply a reminder to the copy that the other person receives. In one sense, this behavior isn't unreasonable, because other people are in control of their tasks, not you. You can't prevent them from doing anything reasonable with the items in their mailboxes. However, if I assign a task to others, I want some assurance that they're going to remember to do it!

If other people have granted you permission to edit items in their Tasks folder, you can open the accepted task and add a reminder. Perhaps a better approach is to create the item directly in the other person's Tasks folder, rather than sending a task request.

Finally, you can always send the new task owner a friendly reminder email message. To make it a little more emphatic, add a message flag for the current date and a time just a few minutes from when the task owner receives the reminder message. When the user receives the message, the flag will cause a reminder to pop up when the clock reaches the designated time.

I have a Post form in a public folder with custom actions to create related items. However, the items are saved in the user's Drafts folder, not in my public folder. How can I change this behavior?

Microsoft introduced this problem in Office 2000 Service Release 1/1a (SR 1/1a) and didn't fix it in Service Pack 2 (SP2). When you use a custom form that has a Reply to Folder action on the form's (Actions) page, Outlook does a great job of copying data from the original item to the reply, without the requirement of writing any code. Unfortunately, SR1/1a introduced the problem of such replies being saved to the Drafts folder, not to the public folder. The Microsoft article "OL2000: The Item Is Saved in Your Drafts Folder When You Reply to a Post Form" (http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q272/4/05.asp) describes the problem and one workaround. You could use a COM add-in to monitor the Drafts folder for new items that are using the custom form and move them to the correct folder.

Another workaround is to use VBScript code to create the item directly in the folder, rather than relying on the custom action mechanism. Your code must copy all the data from the original item to the related new item.

Why do only a few items in my Sent Items folder display the Tracking tab?

Outlook adds the Tracking tab to a sent message only after you receive at least one response from a recipient and open that response to process it. Even if you set Outlook's options to process receipts and responses automatically (by using the settings in Tools, Options, E-mail Options, Tracking Options), Outlook still seems to need the user to open the receipt or other response message.

If you haven't received any responses, you won't see a Tracking tab for the message. Remember that not all mail servers and clients return receipts.

How can I incorporate a Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel document into an Outlook custom form?

Outlook's File, New menu includes a choice for Office Document, but you won't find that choice in the dialog box that appears when you choose Tools, Forms, Design This Form. The solution is to use the File, New menu command to create your Office document and customize the resulting Word or Excel document. After you finish working with the document, you can switch to form design mode by choosing Tools, Forms, Design This Form to make any other modifications, such as adding code to the form.

Does any version of the HTML Forms Converter work with Exchange 2000 Server?

You can obtain the latest version of the HTML Forms Converter at ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/bussys/exchange/exchange-public/fixes/eng/exchg5.5/sp3/server/sp3_55fo.exe. The HTML Forms Converter converts the layout—but not the VBScript code—of traditional Outlook forms to Active Server Pages (ASP) files for use with the Exchange Server 5.5 version of Outlook Web Access (OWA). No equivalent converter exists to turn Outlook forms into Exchange 2000 Web Storage System (WSS) forms. You must redesign the forms by hand. You can find a wealth of references about designing applications for the WSS at http://msdn.microsoft.com/wss.

How can I set up an appointment that occurs every two months?

You can make recurring appointments for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly intervals. On the appointment, click Recurrence. Under Recurrence pattern in the Appointment Recurrence dialog box, choose Monthly. As Figure 2 shows, you can choose to make a recurring appointment based on the day of the month or day of the week. Then, you can set the appointment to occur every xx month(s).

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