Outlook Tips and Techniques - 03 Jan 2000


How do I send a message so that the From address is the same as our distribution list (DL)?

To send a message with a different From address, use Outlook's View, From command to display the From box. Select the From check box, and select the DL from the Global Address List (GAL).

If you send a message using a From address other than your own, however, you'll receive a nondelivery report (NDR) unless you have either Send On Behalf Of or Send As permission for that address. Users can grant you Send On Behalf Of permission when they make you a delegate for a mailbox. For a DL, however, you must use the Microsoft Exchange Administrator program to grant Send As permission to the Windows NT 4.0 user accounts or groups that are sending messages with the DL's return address.

Can I prevent looping when users create an AutoForward rule for sending messages to the Inbox?

The default setting for the Internet Mail Service (IMS) on Exchange Server 5.5 is not to allow automatic forwards and replies to the Internet. Here's why: Let's say a user creates a rule to forward all of his or her mail to an Internet account and sets that account to retain messages on the server. Eventually, the accumulated volume of messages exceeds the allowed volume on the account, and the mail server starts returning messages. But where do the returned messages go? Not back to the original sender, but back to your Exchange server user's mailbox, where the rule just sends them back again to the clogged mailbox, where they bounce again, and so on, and so on.

The only real way to prevent this kind of looping is not to allow automatic forwarding on the IMS. (For information about configuring Exchange Server for AutoForwarding, see Outlook Tips and Techniques, November 1999.) You can still forward messages by using an alternate recipient on the mailbox. Using an alternate recipient means a little more administrative work, but that configuration returns any bounced messages to the original sender, not to your Exchange server.

What's the easiest way to schedule a follow-up meeting that will have the same subject, same time, same attendees, and same location, but a different date?

So, you didn't finish all the action items and need to meet again tomorrow? Go to your Calendar folder, and locate the meeting that needs a follow-up. Hold down the Ctrl key, drag the meeting to the thumbnail calendar in the upper right corner of the Outlook window, and drop it on the new date. (You can also drag it to any visible date if you're in a weekly or monthly view.) This process creates a copy of the original meeting. Now, double-click the copy to open it. The information bar at the top of the item will tell you that Invitations have not been sent for this meeting. Add any updated information, such as the new agenda, then click Send to issue a new round of invitations to the same recipients who attended the original meeting.

How can I eliminate the Conversation prefix in front of each group name in Outlook's By Conversation Topic view?

The Conversation prefix is supposed to remind you which field Outlook is grouping the view on, but many people find that it's nothing but clutter. Or maybe the folder in question is an account-tracking application, and you want to keep the prefix but change it to Account. Use the steps below to change the prefix. In the By Conversation Topic view,

  1. Right-click any column heading, then select Field Chooser.
  2. Drag the Conversation field from the Field Chooser to the heading in the By Conversation Topic view.
  3. Right-click any column heading, then select Format Columns.
  4. In the Format Columns dialog box, which you see in Screen 1, select Conversation from the Available fields list, and delete Conversation from the Label text box. (Alternatively, you can replace Conversation with other label text.)
  5. Click OK to return to the view.

You'll see that the word Conversation no longer appears in the group headings. Outlook either automatically removes the Conversation field from the column headings or replaces the field with the label text you entered.

How can I keep a fax DL for Outlook 2000 contacts?

The ability to store DLs in Contacts folders is one of the outstanding new features in Outlook 2000. To create a new list,

  1. Choose File, New, Distribution List.
  2. On the blank Distribution List page, which you see in Screen 2, enter a name in the Name box.
  3. Click Select Members to pick names from contacts in the Outlook Address Book. You can choose anyone who has a number in one of the fax fields.

If you have an Internet or certain other types of email address, you can add names to a DL without creating a Contact entry by clicking Add New on the Distribution List window. (This method doesn't let you to add fax addresses.)

To send a fax with this DL, enter the name of the DL containing fax addresses in the To, Cc, or Bcc box as usual, or click To to select it from the Address Book.

My favorite feature in Outlook 2000 DLs is that you can keep DLs updated. Notice the Update Now button on the right side of the Distribution List window in Screen 2: If you change the fax number in an Outlook contact that is included in your DL, open the DL, then click Update Now to refresh the number in the DL as well.

I need to add 200 people to a DL, and I don't have time to build a big list by hand. Can I add the names in any other way?

I wish that Outlook had a feature that let you select contacts and then add either the email addresses or fax numbers for each person to a DL. Unfortunately, Outlook has no such feature (although someone will likely build one as an Outlook COM add-in).

For bulk email jobs, you can fall back on the method in common use with Outlook 97 and Outlook 98: Select a group of contacts, then select New Message to Contact, which creates a new message with the contacts' email addresses in the To box. However, this method works very poorly for fax addresses. In fact, using this bulk method, you'll see fax addresses only for contacts with a fax number but no email address.

You can build a better solution using a simple custom Contact form and Microsoft Word 2000's mail-merge feature. The combination of Outlook 2000 and Word 2000 solves most of the merge problems in previous versions by adding two key improvements:

  • The ability to start a merge from Outlook, including a merge based on selected contacts
  • Support for custom Outlook fields in the merge document

The main obstacle in merging Outlook data to fax recipients is that no field in an Outlook contact holds a full fax-recipient address in the standard format for your fax software. Word can't just use the fax number: It needs to know how to turn it into an email address. (To Outlook, sending a fax is just a special case of sending an email message.) For Microsoft Fax, the fax client for Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) and some other fax applications, the syntax is

\[FAX:[email protected]\]

If you use a different manufacturer's fax software, you must know that software's syntax.

When you know the fax addressing format, you can create your custom form using these steps:

  1. Choose Tools, Forms, Design a Form to open the Contact form in Design mode. Switch to the (P.2) page.
  2. In the Field Chooser, click New, then create a new text field named FaxAddress.
  3. Drag the FaxAddress field to the (P.2) page to create a text box for the field.
  4. Right-click the FaxAddress field's text box, then select Properties, Value.
  5. On the Value tab, which you see in Screen 3, select the Set the initial value of this field to check box, then click Calculate this formula automatically.
  6. Click Edit, then enter this formula:
    IIf(\[Business Fax\] <> "", "\[FAX:" & \[Full Name\] & "@" & \[Business Fax\] & "\]",  "")
  7. Click OK until you return to your form.
  8. Choose Form, Display this Page to hide this page. Users don't need to see this field.
  9. On the form's (Properties) tab, set the Version and icons.
  10. Publish the form either to the Organization Forms library or to the Contacts folder with the form name IPM.Contact.FaxAddress.

Make this new form the default for your folder by updating the information on the folder's Properties sheet.

To apply the form to existing items and fill in the FaxAddress field for each item, create a new Outlook form of any type, add a command button to the (P.2) page, then add the code in Listing 1 to the form. The code is a variation on the standard routine for updating the message class of all items in a folder. (You can run similar code from an Outlook 2000 Visual Basic for Applications—VBA—module.) Run the form, then click Command to run the code.

After running the code to update existing items, the items are ready to use in any mail merge with Word in which you want to send faxes. New items will automatically get the right value in the FaxAddress field.

How do I perform a Word mail merge using contacts saved with my custom form?

To perform a mail merge using Word and a custom form

  1. Start your merge from the folder containing the Contact items. Ideally, you'll have used the Categories field to make it easy to filter or group all the entries that fit a particular condition (e.g., all electrical contractors).
  2. Apply your filter or grouping, then select the contacts you want to use in the merge.
  3. Choose Tools, Mail Merge. In the Mail Merge Contacts dialog box, which you see in Screen 4, apply the following settings:
    • Under Contacts, click Only selected contacts.
    • Under Document file (if you have an existing merge document that you want to use), click Existing document, then click Browse to choose the document.
    • Under Merge options, Merge to, select E-mail.
    • Under Merge options, Message subject line, enter the text that you want to appear in the Subject field of outgoing faxes.
  4. Click OK to proceed to the next phase of the merge. Word will open with either a blank document or the merge document file you specified. If you're starting from a blank document, you'll need to use the Insert Merge Field button on Word's toolbar to insert data fields from the contacts that you're merging.
  5. When you've set up the merge document, click Merge on the toolbar. Electronic mail appears in the Merge dialog box.
  6. Click Setup to select the following final settings in the Merge To Setup dialog box, which you see in Screen 5:
    • Under Data field with Mail/Fax address, select FaxAddress (the custom field you created earlier).
    • Select the Send document as an attachment check box.
  7. Click OK to save the settings, then click Merge in the Merge dialog box. Word will now create an email message addressed to each selected contact's FaxAddress field. Outlook will use your fax software's default cover page and other settings to send these messages.

Can I adapt this merge method to Outlook 97 or Outlook 98?

The problem with trying to use the merge method I just described in earlier versions of Outlook is the limited number of fields that you can use to hold the full fax address. You can't use a custom field, so you would have to choose one of the built-in fields. In most cases, the fields that Word lets you use for the address when merging to email are likely to be in use holding other data.

For Outlook 97 or Outlook 98, here's a method that uses Microsoft Excel as an intermediary:

  1. Create a formula field in your Contacts folder that matches the formula I used for the custom Outlook 2000 form's FaxAddress field.
  2. Create a table view on the folder that shows just the formula field and the fields you want to use in the merge document.
  3. Select all the items you want to merge (grouping by category might help), then choose Edit, Copy.
  4. Open a new worksheet in Excel, then paste the information copied from the table view.
  5. Save the Excel file.

Now you can start a mail merge in Word and use the Excel file as the data source. The formula field that you copied will be the data field you use to provide the address for the merge-to-email feature.

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