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November 2006 : outlook

 

  make it a priority


Priority mail codes are used in postal mail by large companies, heads of state, and other people or organizations that receive large amounts of mail.

A priority mail code is a combination of letters and numbers that can be added to an address, indicating that the sender has been given the special code and that their mail should take priority over other mail.

Just as you can assign a priority code to postal mail, you can assign a priority code to e-mail. All you have to do is decide on a priority code, create a rule in Microsoft Outlook that will send all e-mails with the priority code in the Subject field to a special folder, and then give out your priority code to clients, coworkers, leads, and others. You could even include your priority code on your business card, so that you can be sure no important e-mails get marked as junk or get lost in the hundreds of other e-mails you receive every day.

Deciding on a code

The first thing you need to do is decide on an appropriate code.

For the system to work best, choose a code that is easy to remember but not something that would be typed in a normal email.  "BUDGET" appears all too often in emails.  How about "BGT2007" instead?

Once you have decided on a code, you’re ready to create a rule that will have Outlook automatically send messages with the priority code in the Subject field to a specified folder.

Creating a rule in Outlook 2000/2002

In the main Outlook window, select Tools > Rules Wizard from the menu. The Rules Wizard dialog box appears.

Click the New button in the Rules Wizard dialog box. Select the “Start from a blank rule” option, select “Check messages when they arrive” from the list, and click Next.

Now you need to tell the Rules Wizard what conditions to look out for. Since you only want Outlook to search for messages that contain your priority code in the Subject field, click the “with specific words in the subject” check box to select it. Then, in the Rule description section, click the “specific words” link. In the dialog box that appears, type the priority code in the text box, click Add, and click OK to return to the Rules Wizard. Click Next.

Now you need to tell the Rules Wizard what you want Outlook to do once it comes across a message with your priority code in the Subject field. You want Outlook to move these messages to a specific folder, so click the “move it to the specified folder” option. Then, in the Rule description section, click the “specified” link and select the folder that you want the messages to be sent to. To create a new folder, click the New button, give the folder a name, such as “Priority code,” select where you want to store the folder, and click OK. Click OK to return to the Rules Wizard.

While you're here, you might want to look at the other things you can do when a message with your code arrives.  You can trigger a popup alert, forward the message to your cell phone or another employee, and more.

Click Next twice more, give the rule a short name such as “Mail Code,” and click Finish. Click OK to close the Rules Wizard.

Creating a rule in Outlook 2003

In the main Outlook window, select Tools > Rules and Alerts from the menu. The Rules and Alerts dialog box appears. On the E-mail Rules tab, click the New Rule button.

The first page of the Rules Wizard appears. Since you only want to search for messages that contain your priority code in the Subject field, click “Move messages with specific words in the subject to a folder” under Step 1. Under Step 2, click the “specific words” link. The Search Text dialog box appears.

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  quick jump


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  ...continued


Here you need to enter the text that you want Outlook to search for, which in our case is a specific code. Type your priority code in the first text box, click Add, and then click OK to return to the Rules Wizard.

Under Step 2, click the “specified” link and select the folder that you want your prioritized messages to be sent to. To create a new folder, click the New button, give the folder a name, such as “Priority code,” select where you want to store the folder, and click OK. Click OK to return to the Rules Wizard.

While you're here, you might want to look at the other things you can do when a message with your code arrives.  You can trigger a popup alert, forward the message to your cell phone or another employee, and more.

Click Next to display the second page of the Rules Wizard. You don’t want to specify any other conditions here, so click Next. The third page of the Rules Wizard appears. Select the “stop processing more rules” check box, and click Next. We don’t have any exceptions to this rule, so click Next to finish setting up the rule.

Under Step 1, type a short name for the rule such as “Mail Code.” Click Finish to finalize the rule. Now whenever someone sends you a message with your priority code in the Subject field, Outlook will automatically send the message to the specified folder.

Testing the rule

Let’s try testing the new rule to make sure everything was set up correctly. To do this, go ahead and send yourself an e-mail, making sure to type the priority code in the Subject field. Click the Send/Receive button to send out the message.

In the Folder list, navigate to the priority code folder that you specified and click it to open it. The message you just sent to yourself should appear in this folder.

  quick reference card


Get the Quick Reference Card on Microsoft Outlook!  Download it for free and print it on your own printer.  You might even want to laminate it.

  schedule a class on Outlook


Request an on-site Outlook class from Applied Office sometime next year to help your employees get more out of this great tool.  Sessions are just $95/hr and your employees will love learning how to better organize their emails, contacts, appointments, and tasks.

Learn more here.

  getting too much junk mail?


One of my clients is MX Resources, a reseller of the award-winning Postini junk mail filtering service.  If your current spam filtering isn't working, visit the MX Resources website and give Matthew a call.