What I Would Like to See in the Next Microsoft Outlook

I have been using Microsoft Outlook for a long time now. I’m currently using Outlook 2003 and like it for the most part. However, there are some things I would like to see improved:

1. An easier way to create distribution lists. Distribution lists are key tools in Outlook. However, creating the lists is quite cumbersome. I would prefer a way to maybe check a box beside each contact that I would like to include in a distribution list and build the list from there. Right now, I have to choose from ALL my contacts and have to doubleclick on each contact to add them to the list. That’s a pain.

2. The ability to turn on/off delivery from certain mail servers. For instance, I use Dreamhost as my blog host for AllFinancialMatters. Their mail server doesn’t always work properly. The problem is that Outlook still tries to check mail from my dreamhost account during these down times, causing Outlook to get hung up or, even worse, a stupid window pops up asking for my password. It would be nice to just turn off the send/receive feature for my dreamhost account.

3. Better contact information. I would like to be able to keep track of birthdays for an entire family and have the birthdays automatically inserted into my Outlook Calendar.

Those are the three main improvements I would like to see in the next edition of Microsoft Outlook. Does anyone know what the next Outlook is supposed to look like?

10 thoughts on “What I Would Like to See in the Next Microsoft Outlook”

  1. Love your website!

    1. Did you know that you can hold down the CTRL key and select multiple contacts at the same time when you create your distribution lists?

    2. You can edit the properties of your Dreamhost account so that its not included when outlook downloads email every 10 minutes (or whatever you have it set to).

    Hope this helps.

  2. Here’s a #4:

    I hope the next version is more stable. Outlook 2003 has been the worst in terms of stability, and I’ve used Outlook versions 97, 98, 2000, XP, and 2003. Often times when there is an IMAP timeout, it freezes.

  3. I’m not sure whether any e-mail client has gotten creation of distribution lists quite perfect yet. I’m using Thunderbird. I’ve tried KMail, Emacs rmail & Gnus, and I’m considering Evolution. Yes, I’m a Linux user.

    Thunderbird let’s you just keep adding contacts to your distribution (which it calls a List). Since it does auto-completion on what you’ve typed, I find that I don’t have to type more than a couple of letters before I have a pop-up list of a reasonable size to select from. That has some advantages over the approach you suggested, but it has drawbacks too. You have to know who you want to add to your list rather than using all of your contacts to refresh your memory.

    It does get reading mail from multiple servers right. By default, when you select a particular inbox, it retrieves mail from that server. You can ask it to retrieve new mail for a single server or all servers at any time.

    Since I use a Palm Pilot as well, I understand the convenience of having birthdays automatically appear on your calendar. Palm got that one right. If you don’t have a Palm, drop by a store that will let you test drive one and create a fake contact with a birthday. Entering the year is a pain, but once that’s done, you have an annual event on your calendar. Anniversaries still have to be entered manually.

  4. When I enter a birthdate or anniversary in the Contact information form, it is automatically added to my calendar. That works for me on Outlook 2003… perhaps it is just a setting that I switched on if yours doesn’t do that.

  5. Like Flexo says, Outlook 2003 does support birthdays. Click on the Details tab of the contact’s vcard and set the birthday…it will automatically get added to your calendar like an all-day appointment

  6. Flexo,

    I know that it supports birthdays, but only one per contact. For contacts that are married, I would prefer to have both birthdays for the husband and wife listed for the same contact. So far, I haven’t figured out a way to do it to my satisfaction.

  7. Like Dale, I use Thunderbird. I never have problems with it and use it with my Pop3 email account from Dreamhost. I use the “Minimize to Tray” extension and have it check for new messages every few minutes.

  8. I’ve used various email clients (Outlook, Thunderbird, Emacs) but surprisingly Outlook Express gets the job done better than any of them. My biggest issue however is the lack of compatibility/portability as I had to let go of years worth of emails when switching over to another client due to poor importing features, but this is a problem with every single client that I have used so I just leave a copy on the server. Dreamhost can definitely be a pain though–I’ve yet to get outgoing mail to work properly.

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