Changing Outlook usage habits

Given that I have been using it for so long, I shouldn’t be discovering new things with Outlook. However, there is one thing that I have been doing for years: leaving messages set as unread until I have dealt with them. Now that I look at it it seems a very bad habit compared with an alternative that I recently found. Quite why I haven’t been flagging messages for follow-up instead is beyond me. Is it because I worked with Outlook 2000 at a place of work so long and the arrival of Outlook 2007 into my life wasn’t sufficient to force a change of habits? In fact, it has taken a downgrade to Outlook 2003 to make it dawn on me and the sight of search folder for messages marked for follow-up was what triggered the realisation.Speaking of old habits, there is one that I’ll be dropping: setting up loads of rules allegedly for organising messages. Given that they were the cause of my missing emails quite a few times, it’s one more nuisance that needed to be left behind me.

A little thing with Outlook

When you start working somewhere new like I have done, various software settings that you have had at your old place of work don’t automatically come with you and you are left scratching your head as to how you had things working like that in the first place. That’s how it was with the Outlook set up on my new work PC. It was setting messages as read the first time that I selected them and I was left wondering to set things up as I wanted them.

From the menus, it was a matter of going to Tools > Options and poking around the dialogue box that was summoned. What was than needed was to go to the Other Tab and Click on the Reading Pane Button. That action produced another dialogue box with a few check-boxes on there. What I then did was cleared the one for Mark item as read when selection changes. There’s another box for Mark items as read when viewed in Reading Pane but that’s inactive by default and I left things be.

From my limited poking around, these points are as relevant to Outlook 2007 as they are to the version that I have at work, Outlook 2003. Going further back, it might have been the same with Outlook 2000 and Outlook XP too. While I have yet to what Outlook 2010, the settings should be in there too though the Ribbon interface might have placed them somewhere different. It might be interesting to see if a big wide screen like what I now use at home would be as useful to the latest version as it is to its immediate predecessor.

Outlook rule size limitation

A move from Outlook 2000 to Outlook 2007 at work before Christmas resulted in deactivated Outlook rules and messages like the following when I tried reactivating them:

One or more rules could not be uploaded to Exchange server and have been deactivated. This could be because some of the parameters are not supported or there is insufficient space to store all your rules.

The cause is a 32 KB size limitation for all rules associated with your Exchange server account prior to Exchange 2007. With the latter, the default size increases to 64 KB and can be increased further to 256 KB by manual intervention. This wouldn’t be a big issue if you had the option to store rules locally on your own PC but that was removed after Outlook 2000, therefore explaining why I first encountered it when I did. Microsoft has a useful article on their support website containing suggested remedies¬†and they aren’t all as extreme as deleting some rules either. Consolidation and shortening of rule names are other suggestions and you should never discount how much space the “run on this machine only” parameter takes up either. Still, it’s an odd design decision that caused this but I suppose that it wouldn’t the first made by Microsoft and it may not be the last either.