Outlook Tips and Techniques - 01 Nov 1999


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

Regular readers of Exchange Server newsgroups and discussion lists know that this question falls into the FAQ Top 10. Sometimes, users just want to temporarily forward company mail to the ISP mail accounts that they access from home. In other cases, employees who travel might be able to retrieve their mail more easily from an ISP account all the time (assuming they don't remotely access Exchange via the Internet).

If you plan to control all forwarding, simply create a new custom recipient in the Global Address List (GAL), then use that recipient as an alternate recipient for the mailbox you're forwarding. You can also let users turn forwarding on and off with Inbox Assistant or Rules Wizard rules, as long as you've configured the Internet Mail Service (IMS) to allow automatic forwarding to the Internet. However, Exchange Server 5.5 has this feature turned off by default, and many administrators leave it off to suppress automatic replies. (Be aware that many companies prohibit forwarding any material to ISP accounts because of the danger of sending confidential material outside the company.)

Exchange Server 5.5 Service Pack 2 (SP2) adds more flexibility to the IMS to allow separate settings for forwarding and replies. The Microsoft article "XFOR: Internet Mail Service Does Not Allow Auto Forwarded Messages" (http://support.microsoft.com/support/ kb/articles/q192/9/82.asp) describes this update. To enable automatic forwarding while blocking automatic replies, back up the Registry, run regedt32.exe, and locate the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ CurrentControlSet\ Services\MSExchangeIMC\Parameters key.

Choose Edit, Add Value to add a new value with these settings:

Value Name:   AlwaysAllowForwarding
Data Type:    REG_DWORD
Data:         1

You must make this change on all servers that host the IMS. Then, users can forward their mail automatically to an ISP mail account without needing the administrator to intervene. Outlook 97 and Outlook 98 users must use the Inbox Assistant, not the Rules Wizard, because the Rules Wizard in these versions of Outlook can't forward a message with the original headers intact. In Outlook 2000, you use the new Redirect action in the Rules Wizard to forward a message.

When I use a custom message form that includes some VBScript code, people within my organization can't see the message text in the Outlook preview pane. Why?

This characteristic can be a major annoyance, but it can also be a valuable feature. If you add VBScript code to a message form—even if you publish message forms to your Organization Forms library—recipients in your organization can't view the form in the Outlook preview pane. Instead, the recipients receive one of the following messages, depending on their Outlook version.

  • Items with embedded script cannot be displayed in the preview pane. (Outlook 98)
  • Items with active content cannot be displayed in the preview pane. (Outlook 2000)

If your users have AutoPreview (View, AutoPreview) turned on, however, at least they can see the first three lines of message text.

How can I keep track of whether anyone is reading the items in a public folder?

This concern is very real when users must read or act on the items in a folder within a specific amount of time. If you customize the form's default form with a few lines of VBScript, you can easily track both the first time someone opened and read the form and the most recent reading. Here are step-by-step instructions for customizing the form in this manner.

  1. Switch to the public folder, and open its default form in design mode (Tools, Forms, Design This Form).
  2. Add two Date/Time fields, FirstRead and LastRead, to the form.
  3. Drag both fields from the Field Chooser to a custom page, and choose Form, Display This Page to hide the custom page from users.
  4. Right-click the FirstRead field, and bring up its Properties. On the Display tab, select the Read Only check box. On the Value tab, select the Set the initial value of this field to check box, and type #1/1/4501# as the value, as Screen 1 shows. Outlook uses this special date to mean None. Click OK to close the Properties dialog box.
  5. Repeat Step 4 on the LastRead field.
  6. Choose Form, View Code, and add the code in Listing 1 to the form.
  7. Publish the form to the public folder you got it from. If you started with a built-in form, you must make this new form the folder's default form on the Properties dialog box for the folder.

A few tricks are possible here. First, you can use the If Item.Size <> 0 expression as a simple way to tell whether an item is newly created. If Item.Size equals zero, the item is new. If not, the item already exists in the folder.

Second, if the forms for the items include script code, you can't view the message for Message and Post items in the preview pane, as I explained in the preceding question. In this case, that limitation is a plus. If the users could read the items in the preview pane, they'd rarely trigger the Item_Open event that updates the date stamps contained in the FirstRead and LastRead fields.

Finally, in the UpdateRead() subroutine, notice that you see #1/1/4501# again. The # characters function as quotation marks around text to tell Outlook that the enclosed data is a date. Here, the value again means a date displayed in Outlook as None. If the FirstRead field reads #1/1/4501#, the procedure replaces #1/1/4501# with the current date and time. If a date (other than #1/1/4501#) is already in the FirstRead field, the procedure puts the current date and time in the LastRead field instead.

Thus, the form tracks both the first and most recent times anyone opened and read the folder. You can see both timestamps in the folder by adding the new fields to the folder view. Add a few test items to the folder, right-click the column headings, and choose Field Chooser. From the list of User-defined fields in folder, drag the FirstRead and LastRead fields to the folder. Your test items will display either None or a date/time stamp, depending on whether they have been opened and, if so, how many times.

When a message arrives in my Sales public folder and an Exchange Event Service script changes the message class from IPM.Note to IPM.Note.Sales, the message goes from unread to read. How can users tell which items are new?

If you're looking at the public folder with the same account that you used to install the script, what you're seeing is perfectly normal. Public folders keep track of the read/unread state of messages for each user. You see the messages as unread because the script is running in the logon context of the mailbox that installed or last changed the code (i.e., your mailbox). Other people will see new items as unread.

This behavior provides one good reason to use a special mailbox account just to install scripts. Then, when you log on to your personal mailbox, you'll see the same views that other users see.

I have a user who sends out an internal daily newsletter for my company. She doesn't want users to see her name as the sender of the newsletter for fear that they will delete the newsletter without reading the information. Can I change the name in the From box? Do I need to create another email account?

Return addresses must come from somewhere—if not from the sender's own mailbox, then from another account. If the user needs to send with a different return address, use the Microsoft Exchange Administrator program to create another email account, and on the account's Permissions tab, assign Send As permission to the user who will use that return address.

Then, show the user how to change the From address to the new account by choosing View, From Field in the message window and entering the address she wants users to see. Better yet, create an Outlook template or form for the newsletter with the From address, Subject, and any other consistent features of your newsletter already filled in.

How can I add a custom form to the toolbar in Outlook 2000?

Outlook 2000 includes better toolbar customization tools than previous versions. In particular, you can add a hyperlink to any file or Internet URL, as Screen 2 shows. This capability opens the door to adding a custom Outlook form to the toolbar, if you've saved the form as an .oft template file, one of the choices in the File, Save As dialog box. Follow these steps to create a new button to launch the form.

  1. From the menu bar, choose View, Toolbars, Customize.
  2. Drag any button from the Commands tab of the Customize dialog box to the toolbar.
  3. Right-click the new button, and enter a new Name. If you begin with an ampersand (&), the letter following the ampersand becomes a hot key for the button. You can run the form by pressing Alt plus that hot key.
  4. Choose Assign Hyperlink, Open.
  5. In the Assign Hyperlink dialog box, type in the full path and filename for the .oft file, or click Browse to locate it.
  6. Click OK, then click Close to finish adding the hyperlink button.

\[Thanks to Stephen Monty of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia for the preceding tip.\]

You can also use Outlook 2000 toolbar hyperlinks to launch other programs by using a link to an .exe file or, to start an email message to a particular person, with a link to a mailto:[email protected] URL.

How can I add a toolbar button for a published form in Outlook 2000?

The technique I explained in the preceding questions handles forms saved as .oft template files. For forms published to Organization Forms, your Personal Forms library, or a folder forms library, you can either write an Outlook 2000 macro to launch the form or use a Windows shortcut.

If you want to use a Windows shortcut, use Start, Find to locate the outlook.exe file on your system, and drag that file to the Windows Desktop or any system folder to create a shortcut. Right-click the file, bring up its Properties, and edit the target so that it reads

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\outlook.exe/c "IPM.Contact.My Form"

where "IPM.Contact.My Form" is the published name of your custom form. After you create the shortcut, you can create a hyperlink to the shortcut file, following the same steps that you used for the .oft file.

If you prefer to try your hand at an Outlook macro, press Alt+F11 to open the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) window, and add the code from Listing 2. If you're using some type of form besides a Task form, make sure that the argument for GetDefaultFolder() specifies the right folder for the type of item you're trying to create. VBA's Auto List Members feature will suggest constants for Outlook's default folders.

After you create the macro, adding it to the toolbar is even easier than adding a button for a hyperlink. Here's how:

  1. Choose View, Toolbars, Customize.
  2. On the Commands tab of the Customize dialog box to the toolbar, under Commands, click Macros to see the list of available macros.
  3. Drag the Project1.RunMyForm macro to the toolbar.
  4. Right-click the new button, and edit the new Name so that it's just RunMyForm, as you see in Screen 3 page 8, or &RunMyForm if you want to use Alt+R to open it.
  5. Click OK, then click Close to finish adding the macro button.

A third method for adding a toolbar button for a published form in Outlook 2000 is to use the free Items Command Bar sample COM add-in from Micro Eye (http://www.microeye.com/outlook/index.html).

Can I put custom forms on the Outlook 97 or Outlook 98 toolbar?

The methods I discussed in the two preceding questions work only in Outlook 2000. Although you can use the Windows shortcut technique to put a form-launching button on the Office bar, you can't put a button on the Outlook toolbar. However, a free Outlook Custom Form Launcher utility (http://paul.qualls.com/FormLaunch.html) lets you launch any form or file from an Outlook toolbar button in any Outlook version.

What's new in Outlook?

Exchange administrators will be interested in three new tools: the Digital Dashboard Starter Kit, the Outlook 2000 Team Folder Kit, and the OST Integrity Check Tool. A digital dashboard is an Office 2000-based solution that consolidates personal, team, corporate, and external information with analytical and collaborative tools. You can obtain more information and the Digital Dashboard Starter Kit from http://www.microsoft.com/ digitalnervoussystem/km/ digitaldashboard.htm.

Team Folders combine public folders with the Web by letting Outlook users create a location for shared information, select access rights, and collaborate with coworkers. A white paper, "Introduction to Microsoft Outlook 2000 Team Folder Wizard" (http://www.microsoft.com/ exchange/tfintro.htm), explains Team Folders and discusses the tools in the Team Folder Kit. Both the Digital Dashboard and the Team Folder kits include the Outlook View Control, an ActiveX control that developers can use in Outlook forms and folder home pages to display Outlook folders.

The Outlook 2000 OST Integrity Check Tool corrects synchronization errors or helps you solve offline folder data-integrity problems. The tool scans your computer's offline folder file and the folder file on the Exchange server and compares the items and folders in each file. The tool attempts to correct discrepancies between files. You can find more information and the utility download at http://officeupdate.microsoft.com/2000/ downloaddetails/scanost.htm.

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