Oct 31 2016

Cool shortcuts in Outlook using Office Apps in Office 2013 and beyond


I’ve been using Office 365 for a while at home and recently it updated to the 2016 equivalent version. It was then I started to notice some nice shortcuts in the email message that will be a real bonus within law firms. The two I noticed were “Suggested Meetings” and “Action Items”, they appear just above the message body.

emailBasically each one appears if they notice things within the email, first up in this case it has noticed some text “catch up ….. this Sunday 11th Sept” which it is using to suggest a meeting for me.

schedule-meeting-2Now in this case the date has passed but from here I can quickly click “Edit Details” and it fills in as much as it can in a calendar appointment, shortcutting the process of scheduling meetings (it even used the email addresses to schedule other recipients for the meeting).

Here’s an example of one that is in the future.

schedule-meetingIn this case I can just add the location if required and click the schedule event button and it’s done!

The “Action Items” option just pulls out from an email the key actions it thinks are required. Basically giving you a quick summary of what’s required from you in a long email.

actionsIn this case a request to see the attachment and a reminder not to communicate further just yet. I can flag for follow up from here.

There is also a Bing maps add-in that recognises addresses from the email and can quickly show you a map of the location within the email body. Since finding these I’ve also found a Wunderlist app add-in that lets me quickly add information from an email into my wunderlist task list.

And the best bit is you don’t need to worry about these adding to the long list of COM add-ins within Outlook that slow down your startup time, these are all of the new Office 365 add-in type that eventually should work across all Office 365 platforms (web, desktop, tablet etc).

I just wonder how emails stored in iManage Work behave? Anyone with iManage and Office 2013 or above care to comment below?


Jul 18 2012

Office 15 (aka Office 2013) – Microsoft go tablet and cloud in a big way


I took a look yesterday at Steve Balmers keynote as Microsoft took the wraps off the newest version of Office software: Office 15 or Office 2013. I’m sure I’ll blog a bit more about it over the next few months, but here are a few bullet points of my first thoughts.

  • It’s clearly designed for the tablet (but don’t worry the desktop version there too). Some of the limitations I’ve had with my iPad and Office documents (clunky cut and paste, formatting etc with fingers) have been looked at and I like the idea of the radial menu (see screenshot below) as a concept for menu selection using fingers.

Office 15 – radial menu

  • Word : I love the integration with SkyDrive (SkyDrive is the default, not the C drive). It’s kind of like the Kindle Whispersync concept for books of different devices. So edit a document on PC, open it on your tablet and you can jump to the same place you were at on the PC.
  • Word : All your settings, templates and recent documents etc follow you from device to device too. It’s a bit like roaming profiles for the consumer space.
  • PowerPoint : The presenter view for tablets looks excellent. See your current slide, notes, next slide, a timer etc on your tablet. Whilst at the same time the tablet is displaying the presentation view on a main monitor. Apparently Apple’s KeyNote has this, well kudos for Microsoft for seeing the greate features in Apple’s products and “borrowing” them!
  • Excel : There were some key “wizard” features (you can see towards the later parts of the keynote) which shortcut some complex tasks. Nothing revolutionary, but pretty neat (Flash Fill, Suggestions for visuals).
  • Word : Track changes has been tweaked so that unless you’re actively reading through changes and comments, all the noise simply shows up as a bunch of red lines. Just click the line to expand the thread. So after a back-and-forth with say a client, the comments will appear in a single conversation that flows alongside the page, in the margins. Previous versions you’d see a separate comment bubble for each person’s response, even if they were all addressing the same issue.
  • Word : You can edit PDFs!! Let me say that again, not only create PDFs but you can edit PDFs in Word!

There’s plenty more and I’ve added a few links below in case you want to read up on more. One thing that was hinted at in the keynote that may be useful for Legal IT vendors is that you can run “Apps” in Office, so in the keynote they show some Apps in Outlook. Now these could be the answer to deeper, more usable integration for things like HP Autonomy iManage’s FileSite and Workshare’s Protect, for example. Clearly Microsoft are really on a roll with their Metro interface and readying Office for the world where we switch between desktop, tablet and smartphone devices, I like what I see with Office 15. But for it to be successful in Legal IT the vendors need to integrate their apps well and I mean really well! The Email Management Module of your DMS (Document Management System) needs to flow and work in Outlook 15 whether on a tablet or a desktop, I need to see the DMS integrate with Word like I see SkyDrive integrate with Word 15. I think some vendors need to be radical with this version of Office and break backwards compatibility of their products with previous versions of Office to really push the integration to the next level.

It’ll also be interesting to see what the corporate version of Office 15 is like, I hope it isn’t hampered by the lake of SkyDrive etc (will SharePoint be the corporate SkyDrive?)


Great review of Office 15 on Engadget : http://www.engadget.com/2012/07/16/microsoft-office-15-preview/

Some more screenshots on Mashable : http://mashable.com/2012/07/16/microsoft-office-15-review/

Microsoft Office 15 site : http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/officepreview

Keynote : http://mashable.com/2012/07/16/microsoft-takes-the-wraps-off-office-15-watch-live/



Sep 12 2011

Outlook search – #11 the final cool thing in Outlook 2010


Outlook 2010 top 11 cool things – #11 Search

Well I’ve been on an end of summer vacation and so it’s taken a while to finish the series, but at least we’ve saved the best feature until last! And that’s the search that comes with Outlook 2010.

After years of the clunky Advanced Search in Outlook 2003 where you were forced into carefully filing emails in very specific folders or experienced a world of waiting for Advanced Search to go through all your folders in the hope of finding that email you were sure you’d filed into Project X only to find you’d accidentally dropped it in Project F.

But no more.

Now simply type your search term in the box above the emails and Outlook quickly goes through that folder looking for the term you’ve entered. And I mean quickly.

Should you not find the item in that folder just click on the link below the results to expand the search across all your folders. And the speed at which it does this will blow you away if you were expecting Outlook 2003 Advanced Search type performance!

As you use the search the ribbon shifts into the Search Contextual Tab and from here with a simple click you get even more options. Like just show me the emails with attachments.

Take a look at this site for more information on the options available to make Outlook 2010 even more powerful.

Now if only Autonomy would hook into this and add a “Try searching again across emails in My Workspaces (WorkSite)” link below the Microsoft one, a link that would fire an IDOL search across all your filed emails in the WorkSite document management system!


Aug 18 2011

Out of Office in Outlook 2010, where’s it gone?


Outlook 2010 top 11 cool things – #10 Out of Office

OK, this one’s a bit of a cheat as it’s not really a cool new feature, more a case of “where on earth has it gone?”. Yes this one’s a bit like the big print button (you know that one that stares you in the face on the Print pane but first time in you spent ages looking for!), it’s right there on the backstage.

If you’ve got Outlook 2010 communicating to an Exchange 2003 environment, then your Out of Office will be a familiar pop-up where you can just enter your message. However if you’ve got Exchange 2010 then you get some additional options which are quite handy.

  • First you can have different messages for internal recipients and external recipients. Handy when you want to provide extra contact information for employees of your firm on who to contact but which you may not want to pass onto the client.
  • Also you can setup specific times for auto responses. So if you want to send auto responses only in business hours for example.
  • You have the choice of using HTML in out of office replies, not sure why you’d want to but it’s there.

Aug 4 2011

Previewing attachments within an email in Outlook 2010


Outlook 2010 top 11 cool things – #9 Preview documents within the email

This feature is simple yet brilliant.

You receive an email with one or more attachments.

Single click on the attachment and the document is displayed within the email body.

So no loading up a separate copy of Word, just a preview of the document quickly within the same application!

“What if we’ve a document management system and we send links rather than copies of the document?” well from what I understand a preview of NRL links sent using iManage WorkSite is on the roadmap for development! Which is great news if it is released. If you’re reading this and work for Autonomy and can confirm this, please post in the comments.



Aug 2 2011

Outlook 2010 tips #8 drag and drop!


Outlook 2010 top 11 cool things – #8 Using drag and drop to create tasks

Alright the title is a little misleading and this one definitely goes in the category of “I just found this out but it could well have been there in Office 2007 and maybe even 2003!”, but I hope you’ll forgive the inclusion, it’s new for me in 2010 and I think it’s really useful.

It’s a quick way of using tasks rather than your Inbox as your task list.

How many times have you heard lawyers (or even people in Legal IT depts) say they use their Inbox as a to-do list? (I’ve even heard of some people using their deleted items folder as a task list but let’s not go there!). This tip is a quick way to use drag and drop to quickly create a task using the information within the email.

The scenario:

  • You get an email that requires an action.
  • You want to keep the information on the email with the task.
  • You could (as I used to) create a task with – refer to email from Jason 02/08/2011. But you can’t clear that email out until the task has been actioned.


  • You can drag and drop your email to the Tasks navigation button in the bottom left, when you let go of the mouse button a task is created with the Subject as the title of that email and with the content of the email in the task body. Set your due date and then you can delete the email. Job done!

This also works for calendar items. So if you want to pull a meeting together where the email would be useful pasting into the meeting request, just use the same process and drag and drop into the Calendar navigation button.


Jul 29 2011

Outlook 2010 and instant messaging


Outlook 2010 top 11 cool things – #7 IM

Now #7 unfortunately needs some additional products to work, unless you already have said product and then this is a real bonus! As with these products in place integration into Outlook is something that every Legal IT vendor with an Outlook addin needs to take note of!

The additional product is Office Communication Server (OCS) or Lync as it’s now called, the function it provides is Instant Messaging, Voice and Video communication. And with Outlook 2010 in place the integration is excellent.

First off there is a section that appears in the “organiser pane“. From here you can see your recent and other OCS/Lync contacts and initiate an IM chat or a voice call etc. It really saves having to go back into a separate application to view the online status of a contact or initiate an IM. The only thing I wish Microsoft would have done here is put in a simple search box like in the OCS/Lync client!

Also from any email, as well as being able to reply and forward you can also reply via IM.

Finally anywhere there is an email address or contact name (in the email, on a meeting etc) you can see there busy/free status indicated by the colour next to the picture and name. As well as being able to click to email the contact, IM the contact or make an OCS call to the contact just by clicking on the contact name.

OCS/Lync is integrated in all the right places in Outlook 2010. So much so you don’t realise it’s a separate product. Now if only a couple of Legal IT products, thinking of one for document management and one for document protection could integrate as nicely within Office 2010….. 😉


Jul 26 2011



Outlook 2010 top 11 cool things – #6 The organiser pane

I love the “organiser pane” or “right hand pane” in Outlook 2010, but you’ll need a nice sized widescreen monitor to really appreciate it!

I have my Outlook set up with the vertical reading pane (what you still use the horizontal reading pane?? That’s so Outlook 2000!). So I’ve got my traditional 3 panes. From left to right I’ve the folders list, then my email items view and then my reading pane. Outlook 2010 then brings me a fourth pane.

In here I can see a view of the current month with my upcoming appointment just below. Then under that I’ve my current tasks. And finally the people I’ve most recently IM’d (instant messaged using Office Communicator or Lync, more of IM integration in a later post).

So without having to jump into my calendar and tasks, in one view I can see all my recent stuff. Emails, Appointments, Tasks and contacts! It doesn’t sound much but it is one of the most useful features I’ve encountered in 2010.


Jul 21 2011

Cleanup that mailbox!


Outlook 2010 top 11 cool things – #5 Mailbox cleanup

As a lawyer you will undoubtedly have an Inbox that is at times out of control. I’ve seen some fantastic examples, item counts that are nudging the 40,000 mark and mailbox sizes that run into tens of gigabytes!

So how to control? Well good filing habits and tools like Autonomy’s EMM FileSite addin help, but there is always the good old fashioned way. Delete!

In the backstage view of Outlook 2010 there’s a nice prominent button called Cleanup Tools and in here there’s a great feature that’s no longer hidden away, Mailbox cleanup.

From here you’ll get a nice dialogue where you can quickly see the size of your Mailbox and find those emails that you are happy to get rid of.  By searching for all those large emails from months ago.

I know these features have been in previous versions of Outlook, but I like in 2010 how they are brought to the surface in a more prominent place. Also it’s always good to keep on top of your Mailbox, a very large mailbox is a major cause of Outlook performance and stability problems!


Jul 14 2011

Overlay mode in calendars


Outlook 2010 top 11 cool things – #3 Overlay mode and Group calendars

First up group calendars. Yes I know they’ve been around for a while in Outlook, but I think they’re pretty cool and worth a mention before moving onto Overlay Mode.

Basically from the calendar ribbon I can select Calendar Groups->Create New. From here I can create a calendar group from a distribution list. This creates a group with links to all the peoples calendars that are in that distributiuon list. Best of all is that my list of calendars will stay up to date as people leave or are added to the distribution list!

Now the next cool feature of Outlook 2010, Overlay Mode. From my list of calendars I can select those I want to view. I then get a nice colour coded view of all our calendars.

I can then use the arrows to the left of the persons name in the “calendar tab” to overlay all the calendars into a single view. This is really helpful when trying to identify when you can fit in that meeting!