Outlook Tips and Techniques - 01 Feb 1999

How can I log on to a user's mailbox as an Exchange administrator? (revisited)

Remember that you must log on directly to a mailbox to perform quite a few tasks, such as setting up a delegate for a resource or helping a user troubleshoot Inbox Assistant rules. In the continuing discussion of the best way to accomplish this task with the lowest possible level of permissions, the latest suggestion is to give the administrator the User role on the Recipients container. That way, the administrator can open all mailboxes in this container but can't perform tasks related to other aspects of the Exchange Server's configuration.

How do I forward mail to a user's Internet account? (revisited)

In my September 1998 column, I outlined two forwarding methods—one that the administrator controls with an alternate recipient, another that the user controls with an Inbox Assistant rule. However, many of you have discovered that neither method works unless you alter one of the default settings on the Internet Mail Service (IMS) on your Exchange Server.

In the Microsoft Exchange Administrator program, bring up the properties for the IMS. On the Internet Mail tab, click Advanced options to get the dialog box that Screen 1 shows. By default, Exchange Server 5.5 selects the box for Disable Automatic Replies to the Internet. You need to clear that check box if you want to use either forwarding method.

Can you filter records so that users see only their own records? (revisited)

In my October 1998 column, I described a method—creating a custom field and using Visual Basic Script (VBScript) code to stamp it with the user's name—that works for any folder, regardless of the type of item it contains. For folders that contain message or post items that include a From field, reader Shawn McGrath sends an even easier method. Use a filter on the From field for the user's display name—in other words, the name you see in From when the user sends or posts an item. To set up a filter, go to View, Current View, Customize Current View. Click Filter, From, and enter the user's name.

Another approach is to group items on the From field (View, Current View, Customize Current View, Group By). Choose All collapsed in the Expand/collapse defaults: window to collapse the groups for the default view. Show users how they can expand the list of items grouped under their name with just one click on the plus sign next to the group name.

How does my delegate know when new unanswered messages are in my Inbox?

In my article "Implementing a Group Mailbox or Public Folder" (January 1999), I explained how to set permissions on a mailbox that you share with someone else so the other person can add the mailbox to the Outlook Bar. When the mailbox is in the Outlook Bar, it shows the number of unread items in parentheses, just as your Inbox does.

What other methods are available to help a delegate keep track of your Inbox? One idea, which reader Ron Bell suggested, is to set up a rule (i.e., for messages designated Sent directly to me) on your Inbox to forward a copy of the incoming message to your delegate. In addition, your delegate can create a rule that pops up a notification message whenever a message sent directly to you arrives in the delegate's mailbox.

Another method is to use Folder Monitor for Exchange, a third-party add-on from Simple Computing (http://www.simplecomputing.net/fmonitor.htm). After you add a mailbox to your profile, this tool can monitor new items without requiring you to run the full Outlook client. The product works on mailboxes and public folders.

How can I make a conference room's schedule available to everyone, but let only certain users book the room for meetings?

You can use delivery restrictions, rules, or scripts to restrict access to a conference room. Let me sketch out three possible methods.

Method #1. In Exchange Administrator, you can use the Delivery Restrictions tab on the Properties sheet for the conference room's mailbox to let only certain people send meeting requests to the conference room. In Screen 2, I've added such a restriction by specifying that only members of the Blue Conference Room Users distribution list can book the room. Anyone else trying to send a meeting request to the conference room gets a nondelivery response with the unfriendly message A restriction in the system prevented delivery of the message. This method is probably the easiest to set up, but could result in administrative headaches if too many unauthorized users try to book the room, receive the nondelivery message, and call you to find out what the message means.

Method #2. If you're using a delegate to book the room (I described this method in my May 1998 column), try adding some rules to the delegate's Inbox. You need Outlook 98's Rules Wizard; Outlook 97 doesn't support all the features you need.

The first rule should look like Rule 1 in Figure 1, page 6. Follow the steps the Rules Wizard (Tools, Rules Wizard, New) outlines for creating a rule. When you're creating the conditions for the rule, check from people or distribution list, then click people or distribution list. From the Global Address List (GAL), choose only those users you want to authorize. You'll probably find it easiest to manage the users with a distribution list that you created earlier in the GAL. Personal Address Book distribution lists don't work; if you try to use one, the Inbox Assistant or Rules Wizard will offer to expand the list for you while you're building the rule. The Meeting Request form is in the Standard Forms Library. I added a notification to my rule, but you can omit that action if you want only to find these valid requests and keep other rules from affecting them.

The second rule looks like Rule 2 in Figure 1. C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Templates\Outlook\No access.oft is an Outlook template that I created by opening a new message, giving it a subject and the text You don't have access to this conference room, and then saving it as an .oft template file. This message goes to every unauthorized user who tries to schedule the room. Make sure that Rule 1 is listed above Rule 2 in the Rules Wizard. That way, Rule 1 will catch all the valid meeting requests and prevent the second rule from processing (i.e., deleting) them.

Method #3. If you use an Exchange Event Service script on the mailbox to automatically accept meeting requests, you'll be interested in the latest version of the script that Robert Strong posted at http://www.slipstick.com/files/autoaccept.zip. (Microsoft also posted an updated script in its article "INFO: Updated AutoAccept Event Script" at http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q184/2/71.asp, but that script isn't as effective.)

Strong's script combines custom attributes on the resource's mailbox with a distribution list to let you control who can book the room. By the way, this new script includes many other enhancements over the original version on the Exchange Server 5.5 CD-ROM.

How can I tell who reserved a conference room or other resource?

You can get this information from the Organizer field. You won't see the Organizer field in the Day/Week/Month type of view, but table views can show this information. While you're looking at the resource's Calendar, switch to the Active Appointments view (View, Current View, Active Appointments). Right-click any column heading, then choose Field Chooser. In the box at the top of the Field Chooser, switch to All Appointment fields. You'll see Organizer about halfway down the list of fields. Drag the Organizer from the Field Chooser to the view, and drop it between any two column headings. You'll see the name of each person who booked a meeting in the conference room.

How can I set the column spacing on a folder view so that Outlook will preserve the spacing and use it for new folders that I create?

As in many other Windows applications, you can change the width of columns in a view by dragging the right border of the column heading. Strangely enough, changing the width of columns in a view doesn't trigger Outlook 97 to save changes to the view. However, adding a field to the view is enough to make Outlook think you've changed the view. Try adding a field by dragging it from the Field Chooser, dragging it out again, and then adjusting the column widths. When you switch to a different folder, Outlook 97 will give you an option to save your settings for that view—including the widths. If you apply the view to a different folder, it will show your new column width settings.

Outlook 98, however, saves any view changes automatically, including column widths. If you don't see the new view changes at first, try switching to a different view, then back to the one with the new widths that you want to use.

I have downloaded Microsoft's Sales Tracking sample for Outlook. Microsoft suggests installing it in a public folder. How do I do that?

Each sample Outlook form or application that you download from the Outlook Downloads page at http://officeupdate.microsoft.com/downloadCatalog/dldoutlook.htm consists of a personal folder (.pst file) containing folders with the forms and views that make the application work.

To take a first look at the application in Outlook, select File, Open Special Folder, Personal Folder in Outlook 97, or select File, Open, Personal Folders File in Outlook 98. Make sure you display the Folder List so you can see the subfolders. For example, Screen 3 shows the Sales Tracking .pst file and the folder that contains the Sales Tracking sample application with a Readme item.

When you switch to that folder, you'll see at least one Readme item. Open it to get more instructions on how to use and deploy the application. Explore the View menu to see how the application organizes its information with different views.

After you use the application for a while in the Personal Folders file, you might want to copy it to Public Folders to make the application available to everyone. With the Folder List displayed, hold down the Ctrl key as you drag the folder from Personal Folders to Public Folders. This action creates a copy of the folder, with all the same forms, views, and initial items as in the original.

How can I associate a form stored in my Personal Forms library with a particular public folder?

Sometimes you don't want to copy an entire folder to Public Folders, as I described in the previous question. Perhaps the easiest way to publish just a form to a folder is to create a new item using the form and then use the item's Publish command. Select File, New, Choose Form to create the new item. In Outlook 97, you'll find the Publish Form As command on the File menu. In Outlook 98, look under Tools, Forms, Publish Form As.

If you want to copy a form to the Organization Forms library, rather than to a folder, you can use the Forms Manager. In Outlook 97, choose Tools, Options. Switch to the Manage Forms tab, and click Manage Forms. The procedure is a little harder in Outlook 98. Choose Tools, Options, and then switch to the Other tab. Click Advanced Options, Custom Forms, Manage Forms. Use the two Set buttons to display the Personal Forms library on one side and the particular public folder on the other side. The library can be on either side, but you might find it convenient to always copy from the library listed on the left side to the folder on the right side.

I want to set a filter on a public Contacts folder to select all items where users have selected check box A or check box B (both custom fields) in the form. Can I set this filter in Outlook?

Setting this filter is easier than you might think. In forms design mode, create another Yes/No type field on the form by clicking New in the Field Chooser. Drag that field to your form; it automatically displays as a check box. If you don't want users to see the check box, you have two options. The first option is to put the check box on a separate form page and use the Form, Display This Page command to hide that page. The other option is to right-click the check box, choose Properties, and disable the check box's Visible setting.

In the Properties for the check box, switch to the Value tab, and make the changes you see in Screen 4. On my form, I named the fields that I want Outlook to test Check A and Check B. (Check C is the name of the field that tests whether the user has checked either Check A or Check B.) \[Check A\] OR \[Check B\] is a simple expression that returns the value True whenever a user selects box A, box B, or both and returns the value False whenever the user leaves both boxes empty. If you use this expression in a check box, users can change the value only by changing their check box selection. The Calculate this formula automatically option means that Outlook will always calculate this value.

When you finish changing the form, switch to the form's (Properties) tab and increase the version number. Then, using the command I discussed in the previous question, publish the form to the folder. You'll see the new field in the Field Chooser under User-defined fields in folder, and you can drag it to the view.

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