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Outlook Tips and Techniques - 01 Sep 1998

Can I use both the Rules Wizard and the Inbox Assistant with Outlook?

Outlook offers two different ways to sort incoming messages into folders and perform other actions automatically, based on the characteristics of the messages you receive. The Rules Wizard is an add-on for Outlook 97 and is built into Outlook 98. The Inbox Assistant function is the same as in the Exchange Server client.

The Rules Wizard is easier to use than the Inbox Assistant but has two significant limitations: It can't create automated reply rules that run on the server, and it doesn't let you forward messages to another address with the original message, including its headers, intact. Only the Inbox Assistant can perform these tasks.

In Outlook 98, you can't use both the Rules Wizard and the Inbox Assistant, because you can't prevent the Rules Wizard from converting Inbox Assistant rules to Rules Wizard rules that are subject to the wizard's limitations. (As I describe below, you can turn off the Rules Wizard permanently in Outlook 98, if you prefer the Inbox Assistant.)

Outlook 97, however, lets you keep your Inbox Assistant rules. In Outlook 97, the Rules Wizard is a separate component that you need to either download from or install from the \Valupack folder on recent Office 97 CD-ROMs, including the Enterprise Update CD-ROM for Service Release 1.

If you have been using the Inbox Assistant, when you run the Rules Wizard for the first time (by choosing Tools, Rules Wizard), Outlook offers to convert the Inbox Assistant rules to Rules Wizard rules. If you choose Yes, Outlook turns off the Inbox Assistant rules (but does not delete them), and converts them to Rules Wizard rules. If you choose No, Outlook leaves the Inbox Assistant rules running. Rules created with the Rules Wizard run first. To enable Outlook 97's option for leaving new Inbox Assistant rules in place,

  1. Choose Tools, Rules Wizard.
  2. On the Rules Wizard dialog box, click Options.
  3. Make sure the box marked Prompt to convert Inbox Assistant rules is checked, then click OK twice to close the Rules Wizard. After you check this setting, if you switch to Inbox Assistant and then back to Rules Wizard, Outlook won't import your Inbox Assistant rules, unless you tell it to.

To delete, modify, or add to your Inbox Assistant rules, you need to turn off Rules Wizard, at least temporarily. Here's how:

  1. Choose Tools, Options.
  2. In Outlook 97, on the General tab, click Add-In Manager. In Outlook 98, switch to the Other tab, click Advanced Options, then Add-In Manager.
  3. In the Add-In dialog box, as Screen 1 shows, clear the check box(es) for the Rules Wizard (two in Outlook 97, one in Outlook 98), then click OK twice to return to the main window.

You will now see Inbox Assistant, instead of Rules Wizard, on the Tools menu. After you finish working with your Inbox Assistant rules, you can reverse the procedure: Use the Add-In Manager to re-enable the Rules Wizard, and answer No when Outlook 97 prompts you to import Inbox Assistant rules.

As an Exchange administrator, how can I log in to a user's mailbox?

You might want to access a mailbox in a couple of situations:

  • The user is absent for an extended time but didn't set Out of Office Assistant rules to handle incoming mail (see next question).
  • The user is having a problem with a particular item or folder and can't explain the trouble adequately by phone or email, so you want to look for yourself.
  • You need to work with the settings for a resource account (for example, a conference room).

Usually, the administrator doesn't have access permission to log in to a mailbox. Perhaps the easiest way to get access to a user's mailbox is to log on as the Exchange Server service account, rather than with your usual account as an Exchange administrator. Another method is to give yourself the necessary permission for the mailbox. To give yourself this permission, your NT account must have the Permissions Admin role for Exchange Server.

To give yourself permission to access a user's mailbox,

  1. In the Exchange Administrator program, bring up Properties for the user's mailbox, and then switch to the Permissions tab. (If you don't see the Permissions tab, in the Administrator, choose Tools, Options. Switch to the Permissions tab, and then check Show Permissions page for all objects and Display rights for roles on Permissions page.)
  2. On the Permissions tab, click Add, to add your NT account to the list of Windows NT accounts with permissions with at least the Mailbox Owner right.

After you have permission for the mailbox or have logged on with the Exchange Server service account, you'll need to create an Outlook profile for the user's mailbox.

  1. In Control Panel, double-click Mail (or Mail and Fax), and then click Show Profiles.
  2. Click Add to start the Inbox Setup Wizard.
  3. Follow the wizard's steps to add the Microsoft Exchange Server service. When Outlook prompts you for a name for the profile, enter the user's name so that you avoid mixing up this profile with the one you ordinarily use to access your mailbox.
  4. After you complete the wizard, from the Mail dialog box showing all profiles, select the new profile, and then click Properties to see that the services you need for troubleshooting were installed. For example, you might need to add the Outlook Address Book (OAB) or Personal Address Book (PAB) service if you are tracking down problems in those areas.

Now you can start Outlook with the profile you just created. If you don't see a dialog box for selecting profiles when you start Outlook, start it with your regular profile, and then choose Tools, Options. On the General tab, select Prompt for a profile to be used. (In Outlook 98, look on the Mail Services tab.) One final task if you gained access to the account by changing its permissions: Return to Exchange Administrator and remove your address from the list of authorized accounts for that mailbox.

A user in our organization is going on maternity leave. How can I disable her mailbox temporarily?

I have two methods for handling both this situation and the departure of an employee from the company. I prefer a conservative approach: Don't disable the mailbox completely, at least not at first, but arrange to forward messages to someone else.

Method 1. The first method lets you be selective about what happens to incoming messages. Follow the instructions in the previous question to set up permissions and a profile to let you log in to the user's mailbox. While logged in to her mailbox, choose Tools, Out of Office Assistant, and enter a message for the Exchange server to send to people who send messages to this user during her absence. You can click the Add Rule button to set up forwarding rules to reroute at least the most important incoming messages to another staff member.

Method 2. Use Exchange Administrator to bring up the properties for the mailbox, and then switch to the Delivery Options tab, as Screen 2 shows. Under Alternate recipient, click Modify, and choose a recipient—whoever you want to handle the missing staffer's mail—from the Global Address List (GAL). Don't check Deliver messages to both recipient and alternate recipient, or incoming messages will build up in the user's mailbox.

With method 2, the alternate recipient probably will want to set up a rule to handle the incoming messages addressed to the missing staff member. You can do this easily with the Outlook Rules Wizard when you receive the first message sent to that person. See the next question for details.

Use a similar technique when a user needs messages forwarded to an outside Internet account. For details, see the question "How do I forward mail to a user's Internet account?"

What's the easiest way to set up an Outlook Rules Wizard rule to handle messages coming into my mailbox that are being sent to another user's address?

As I noted in the previous question, if you are receiving mail sent to more than one address (e.g., to you and to a staff member on maternity leave), you will probably want to set up a rule to route the other person's mail into a separate folder or provide a customized automatic response. The Outlook Rules Wizard makes this easy to do from any message received, such as a test message the Exchange administrator sends to make sure that the routing to your mailbox is working. Open any message redirected to you from the other person's address, then follow these steps:

  1. Choose Tools, Create Rule.
  2. Under What condition(s) do you want to check? check Sent to <name of recipient>, and then click Next.
  3. Select an action from What do you want to do with the message? as Screen 3 shows, and then click Finish. That's all there is to it!

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

Forwarding mail to an Internet account is a common practice when you have employees who travel but you don't want to allow access to your Exchange server from the Internet. If you forward employees' mail to a Post Office Protocol (POP) 3 account with a commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP), they can access their messages from any location.

You can forward mail to an Internet account in two ways, one that you control with the Exchange Administrator program and one that the user can control with the Inbox Assistant. You'll want to use the Exchange Administrator method in most cases, but certain users might want to know how to use the Inbox Assistant to control their own forwarding during short trips. The Inbox Assistant method requires Exchange Server 5.0 or later and Outlook 8.01 or later, because earlier versions can't forward messages with the original headers intact.

The Exchange Administrator method. In the Exchange Administrator program, create a custom recipient and use a different display name for the user—maybe "John Smith (Internet)"—and the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) address for the outside POP3 account. Open Properties for the user's mailbox. On the Delivery Options tab, in the Alternate Recipients box, click Modify. Choose the custom recipient you just created, and then click OK. If you want the messages to go to both the mailbox and the external SMTP account, check the Alternate Recipients box.

The Inbox Assistant method. Make sure that you've disabled the Outlook Rules Wizard, as I discussed under "Can I use both the Rules Wizard and the Inbox Assistant with Outlook?" Choose Tools, Inbox Assistant (which now appears on the menu instead of Rules Wizard). Click Add Rule, and create a rule with no conditions; this action will cause the rule to apply to all incoming messages. Under Perform these actions, check Forward, and then enter the address you want to forward to. Under Method, choose Leave message intact; click OK twice to save the rule and exit the Inbox Assistant.

If you turn the Rules Wizard back on, make sure that you choose No when you are prompted to import Inbox Assistant rules. Otherwise, Outlook will convert the forwarding rule to a Rules Wizard forwarding rule, which won't leave the message headers intact.

How do I add a custom field to an Outlook view so I can print it?

Apparently, you already know the secret of Outlook printing—for a field to print, it must appear in the current view in the main Information Viewer. Here's how to add a custom field—one you created for a particular form—to the view:

For Outlook 97,

  1. Choose View, Show Fields.
  2. On the Show Fields dialog box, as you see in Screen 4, under Select available fields from:, choose User-defined fields in folder.
  3. Select the field you want to add under Available fields, and click Add to move it to the Show these fields in this order list.
  4. Reorder the fields using the Move Up and Move Down buttons, and then click OK.

For Outlook 98,

  1. Choose View, Current View, Customize Current View.
  2. On the View Summary dialog box, click Fields.

Continue with step 2 through step 4 listed for Outlook 97.

How can I get a rule to apply to messages already in my Inbox?

Outlook doesn't include a method for making a rule apply to existing messages. However, if you have Exchange Server 5.0 or later and permission to create a new public folder, you can set up a public folder with a Folder Assistant rule that sends your messages back to the Inbox unchanged, where rules will act on them. (Many thanks to Jon Grieve for this procedure.)

  1. Use Tools, Inbox Assistant or Tools, Rules Wizard to create new rules for items that arrive in your Inbox folder.
  2. Choose File, New, Folder to create a public folder to hold mail items. Bring up the Properties dialog for the new folder. On the Administration tab, click Folder Assistant.
  3. Create a rule with no conditions (so that it applies to all items posted in the folder); select Forward to send items to your Inbox, and click Leave message intact. Click OK twice to save the settings for the folder.
  4. Drag all the messages from your Inbox to the new public folder. (You could also use Edit, Move to Folder.) The Folder Assistant rule will send the items intact to your Inbox, where the new rules you created in step 1 will act on them.

Note that messages moved back to your Inbox in this fashion will show today's date for the Received and Sent dates. If you want to check the original Received and Sent dates, look in the public folder you created in step 2.

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