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Outlook Tips and Techniques - 01 May 1998

Is there any shortcut that lets remote Outlook users set up folders for offline use?

Outlook users who want to easily work offline need to synchronize folders with the Exchange Server. Two problems can vex these users as they set up their folders for offline use. One problem is that the required Outlook folders, such as the Inbox, are the only folders that Outlook marks for synchronization by default. The other problem is that users must add a public folder (such as a group Contacts folder) to Favorites before Outlook can synchronize it, but users can add a public folder to Favorites only when they're connected to the server, not when they're working offline.

The second problem has no easy solution. As an administrator, you might want to send periodic alerts to remote users to announce new public folders and remind them how to designate a public folder for offline use. Here are the steps they need to follow:

  1. From Tools, Services, look at the properties for the Microsoft Exchange Server service. Make sure that, on the General tab, you've checked Choose the connection type when starting.
  2. Restart Outlook so the changes take effect, and when prompted, choose Connect. After you connect to the Exchange Server, display the folder list from View, Folder List, and then drag the public folder you want to use offline to the Favorites folder under Public Folders.
  3. Right-click the name of the folder under Favorites, then choose Properties.
  4. On the Synchronization tab, select When offline or online.
  5. Repeat Steps 2-4 for each folder you're setting up for offline use.

Note that you can't select several folders and then use one command to mark them all for use offline or online.

You need to mark folders in your mailbox individually, too. However, one shortcut for setting up mailbox folders for offline use is to create them while you are working offline. If you create a new folder in your mailbox while you're offline, Outlook automatically sets the folder for offline and online use. In other words, Outlook will synchronize that folder with the corresponding folder on the server mailbox whenever you use the Tools, Synchronize, All Folders command.

If you create a new mailbox folder when you're online, Outlook does not automatically set the folder up to synchronize. Instead, you must display the folder properties and select When offline or online on the Synchronization tab, as Step 4 above describes.

One final note about offline folders: If you ever disable offline folder use, then start over with a new offline folders .ost file, you'll need to go through the process above again to add each folder you want to use offline.

Which versions of Outlook 97 work with which versions of Exchange Server?

The short answer is: All of them! Every version of Outlook—from the original retail Office 97 version to the Outlook clients included with Exchange Server 5.5—works with every version of Exchange Server from 4.0 to 5.5. However, if you want to let users take advantage of features specific to your version of Exchange Server, you need at least the version of Outlook that came with that Server version. Table 1 will help you determine compatible versions. Keep in mind that the most recent version has bug fixes that may help prevent general Outlook problems, even if it doesn't match your Exchange Server version.

You can find the English-language version of the Service Pack updates at exchange/exchange-public/fixes/eng/exchg5.0. Other language versions have directories under exchange-public/fixes.

Outlook 98 will work with any version of Exchange Server, but only if you select Corporate or Workgroup mode during setup. The other Outlook 98 configuration, Internet Only, doesn't support the Messaging API (MAPI) components you need to connect. Figure 1 lists additional information about versions of Outlook and Exchange.

Does Outlook 8.03 let AutoSignature migrate?

Last month, I discussed how to get an AutoSignature to migrate when a user moves to a new PC. Here's an update. Outlook 8.03 supports a new Registry setting that lets the AutoSignature's .rtf file for each profile roam with the user. Add a string value named Favorites under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\ Office\8.0\Outlook\Office Explorer. The data for this value must be a universal naming convention (UNC) path pointing to the user's home folder, where the .rtf file is stored, and ending with "\" and not a specific filename. For more details, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base article "OL97: Roaming User's AutoSignature Incorrect or Missing" ( support/kb/articles/q175/0/47.asp).

How do you set up a shared resource, such as a conference room, for scheduling with Outlook?

As with Schedule+, the first step in setting up a resource for scheduling with Outlook is to create a mailbox for the conference room or other resource. Users can then include the resource in their online meeting requests. However, Outlook handles resources quite differently from Schedule+ in one way: For an Outlook resource to accept meeting requests automatically, it needs a delegate account that must be running Outlook and be logged on to the Exchange Server at all times.

Don't worry: This requirement doesn't mean that you need a dozen systems running Outlook just to book a dozen conference rooms. One computer—perhaps your receptionist's computer—running Outlook all the time can act as the delegate for the accounts for several resources. (You might also want some users to be able to book meetings directly, without going through the delegate. I'll explain how to grant this permission in the next question, How do you give a few people access to directly reserve a resource account?)

Here's a step-by-step guide to configuring a resource account and its delegate:

  1. In the Exchange Administrator program, create a mailbox for the resource. For the NT account associated with the Exchange mailbox, you might want to create an account with limited rights to be used just for working with these resource accounts.
  2. In Control Panel, Mail and Fax (or Mail), click Show Profiles, then Add to create a profile for logging on to Outlook with the new account. The profile needs only the Microsoft Exchange Server service. On the Advanced tab of the properties for the service, make sure that you haven't checked Use network security during logon. This way, you can log in to the account by entering the user ID and password for the resource mailbox account when you're prompted, without restarting NT.
  3. Start Outlook with the new profile for the resource account.
  4. Choose Tools, Options. Then on the Calendar tab, click Advanced Scheduling. You'll see three options under Processing of meeting requests:
    • Automatically accept meeting requests and process cancellations
    • Automatically decline conflicting meeting requests
    • Automatically decline recurring meeting requests

    You'll probably want to check all three options, but you can decide. You might have a situation in which you want to allow certain recurring meeting requests, for example.

  5. Still in the Options dialog box, switch to the Delegates tab and click Add to designate the delegate account by choosing a name from the Global Address List. In the Delegate Permissions dialog box that pops up, under Calendar, choose Editor, then check Delegate receives copies of meeting-related messages sent to me. Click OK to return to the Delegates tab, and check Send meeting requests and responses only to my delegates, not to me. Click OK and log off Outlook.
  6. Now, have the delegate log on to Outlook. (Alternatively, if you're going to leave a computer logged on to Outlook just to handle these resources, you can create a new profile to log in with the delegate account.)
  7. Choose Tools, Options. On the E-mail tab, check Process requests and responses on arrival.
  8. Repeat Step 4 to select the types of meeting requests that you want to process automatically. Note that if you do not check all three processing options, the delegate must occasionally review and accept or reject meeting requests that were not booked automatically.

To let the same delegate handle each additional resource account, repeat Steps 1-5.

Some references about Outlook resources from the Microsoft Knowledge Base and the Outlook Administrator's Guide are

"OL97: How to Create a Resource Account in Outlook" ( kb/articles/q169/8/72.asp).

Microsoft Outlook Administrator's Guide, Chapter 5, "Workgroup Ch05.htm#CH5_01b).

"OL97: Direct Booking of a Resource Without a Delegate Account" ( support/kb/articles/q166/8/99.asp).

"OL97: Automatic Resource Booking Available with Sample Scripts" ( support/kb/articles/q178/3/51.asp). In Exchange Server 5.5 and Outlook 8.03, you can use a script to process meeting requests sent to the resource. This article discusses how to use the new Microsoft Exchange Scripting Agent feature to automatically accept appointments. Note that the sample script, which comes with Exchange Server, looks up free and busy times only in 30-minute increments; you need to modify the script to handle longer appointments. For more information about the Scripting Agent, see Tony Redmond, "Closing the Messaging and Groupware Gap with Exchange 5.5's Scripting Agent," Windows NT Magazine, March 1998.

How do you give a few people access to directly book a resource account?

To let a few people directly book a resource account, start Outlook with the resource account's profile, as the preceding answer explains. With the folder list displayed, right-click the Calendar folder, and choose Properties. On the Permissions tab, click Add to grant Author permission to users who need to reserve the resource directly. These users can then choose File, Open Special Folder, Exchange Server Folder to specify the name of the resource and open the resource's Calendar folder to create an appointment directly.

How do I use voting buttons?

A unique Outlook feature is the ability to add buttons to a message to let other Outlook users vote on an issue and to automatically tally their responses. Here is an overview of how to use the feature.

To add voting buttons to a message, in the message window, switch to the Options tab. Select Use voting buttons. You can pick standard buttons from a list, or type your own in the box provided. Separate the button names with semicolons.

When you send the message, the voting buttons appear below the toolbar in the recipients' message window. To vote, the Outlook users click the button of their choice, and send their reply. Outlook automatically tallies votes and stores them in the original message in the Sent Items folder.

How do you print the list of replies to a message that uses voting buttons?

Although you can't print the votes from within Outlook, you can copy the vote responses to another application. To copy them, open the original message, then switch to the Tracking tab. (Outlook adds a Tracking tab to Sent messages that include voting buttons.) Choose Edit, Select All, then Edit, Copy. You can now paste the voting responses into another application, such as Word or Excel.

Is there a way to send a message and prevent someone from forwarding it?

Outlook provides a couple of methods for discouraging casual users from forwarding particular messages or changing the text in a forwarded or replied-to message. Bear in mind, though, that these techniques might not defeat a determined user.

If you don't want to let users forward a message, disable the forwarding action before you send the message. In the open message, choose Tools, Design Outlook Form. Switch to the (Actions) tab and double-click Forward. In the Form Action Properties dialog box for the Forward action, clear the Enabled box. I also recommend disabling the Reply and Reply to All choices, because someone could also use these functions to send the message text to someone else. To keep the recipient from re-enabling these actions, switch to the (Properties) tab and check Protect form design.

Another technique lets recipients forward and reply to a message but prevents them from changing it when they read it, forward it, or reply to it. If you set the Sensitivity to Private on the Options tab before you send a message, recipients can't edit the message or edit the included original text in a forward or reply. However, with both these methods, the user can copy the text to a new message and edit it there.

How can I prevent users from deleting their Contacts or Calendar folder?

A user running Outlook usually can't delete the special folders Outlook uses to store items such as appointments or contacts. However, users can delete these folders if you run the Exchange client (Exchng32.exe) instead of Outlook. Therefore, consider limiting the user's ability to run the Exchange client by removing the Inbox icon from the desktop or removing or renaming the Exchng32.exe file.

The Valupack\Patch folder of the Outlook or Office 97 CD-ROM (Outlook.w32\Valupack\Patch on the Exchange Server 5.5 client disk) includes Chnginbx.exe, a file that replaces the desktop Inbox icon with an Outlook icon that starts Outlook rather than the Exchange client. You can also download this patch from enhancements/chnginbx.asp.

If Exchng32.exe appears on the user's system, you can safely remove it without harming the Outlook installation. Some people like to keep Exchng32.exe on the computer for troubleshooting; in that case, you can rename it or move it to a folder where the user is not likely to run it accidentally.

How can I help a user restore a Contacts or Calendar folder?

If you need to help a user restore a Contacts or Calendar folder, have the user start Outlook with the /ResetFolders switch. This action will restore any missing folders for the mailbox, but the folders will be empty. The user will need to either re-create the missing items or move them back from the Deleted Items folder. If you are using Exchange Server 5.5 and Outlook 8.03, you can try using the Tools, Recover Deleted Items command to locate items that the user recently deleted from Deleted Items.

How can I get a printout of the body text of my appointments?

Outlook's print formats for daily, weekly, and monthly calendars are short on details; they include only the time, title, and location for appointments. Users with notes entered for their appointments might want to print those notes separately. The only way to get a complete printout of all the notes for an appointment is to select the appointment, then choose File, Print, and Memo Style.

You can, however, customize Outlook so that the first 250 characters of any appointment notes are printed. For many users, this solution might be a useful compromise. Because Outlook print formats are closely tied to the onscreen views, first create a new view of appointments that includes the notes. You can distribute such a customized view to users through a .pst file, as I explain in the next question, How can I share a new calendar view other user?

Here's how to create the view:

  1. In your Calendar folder, choose View, Define Views. Click New, give the view a name (e.g., Appointment Details), and select the Card view. In the Can be used on box, select This folder, visible to everyone.
  2. On the View Settings dialog box that pops up, click Fields. In the Show Fields dialog box, choose All Appointment fields from the Select available fields from list. Then, from the Available Fields list, add the fields Subject, Location, Start, End, Notes (the text field), and any others you want to see.
  3. Back on the View Settings dialog box, click Filter. Under Time, choose starts and enter the date range you want to see—perhaps in the next 7 days or this week. If you want to print details of only those appointments that include notes, switch to the Advanced tab to add an is not empty condition for the Notes field.
  4. Back on the View Settings dialog box, click Sort, and set up the view to sort by Start in Ascending order.
  5. Click OK to close all the dialog boxes, then click Apply View on the Define Views dialog box. Each appointment appears in the same type of view used by default on the Contacts folder. You can see about 250 characters of text from the Notes field displays, and this amount of text appears on the printout.

How can I share a new calendar view with other users?

To share a new calendar view with other users, you can distribute it in a .pst file. Here's how to share the Appointment Details view you created in the previous question:

  1. Choose Tools, Services, and add a new Personal Folders file to your profile, giving it the file name NewView.pst and naming it New View.
  2. Choose File, New, Folder, and create a folder named Appointment Details, containing the appointment items under the root of New View. Switch to that new Appointment Details folder.
  3. Choose File, Folder, Copy Folder Design, and choose to copy the design of Forms & Views from the Calendar folder in your mailbox.
  4. Choose View, Define Views, and delete any custom views that you don't want to share with other users. You will not be able to delete the built-in views such as Day/Week/Month or Active Appointments.

You can now email users this small .pst file, or a shortcut to it if you created it on a network. To use the new view, each user must follow these steps:

  1. Choose Tools, Services, and add a new Personal Folders file to the profile, pointing to the NewView.pst file.
  2. Switch to the Calendar folder in the mailbox.
  3. Choose File, Folder, Copy Folder Design, and choose to copy the design of Forms & Views from the Appointment Details folder under the root of New View.

Another way to distribute the view is to apply it to a public folder of Appointment items. Users can follow the three steps above to apply it to their mailbox Calendar folder.

You can't distribute new print formats the same way. Each user must set up a Card format to print from Appointment Details. Here's one way to adjust a copy of the default Card format to handle appointments:

  1. With the new Appointment Details view active on your Calendar folder, choose File, Print.
  2. Click Define Styles, then select Card Style, and click Copy.
  3. On the resulting Page Setup dialog box, you can give this copy of the Card style a name (Appointment Details again, maybe?), then adjust the number of columns, fonts, and other settings to suit your needs. Click Print Preview to see how it will look.

Now you can choose this new Appointment Details print style whenever you use File, Print to print some details of your appointments when you use the Card-style Appointment Details view you created.

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