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Organizing e-mail


August 1, 2002
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Like most people, I use Windows Explorer to organize my hard disk into separate folders and sub-folders for each project or subject area I am working on, generally on the same philosophy as for paper …

Like most people, I use Windows Explorer to organize my hard disk into separate folders and sub-folders for each project or subject area I am working on, generally on the same philosophy as for paper file cabinets. This is fine for most files, including word processing, spreadsheets, drawings etc, but my e-mails are separate since Microsoft Outlook (and most other e-mail software) provides its own folders. I keep them organized in roughly the same way as my main hard disc folders, so that when I have to find information that I vaguely remember having received, I have to search both Outlook and Explorer.

Kirsten Vice of NCASI Canada recently showed me a very useful alternative approach.

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Instead of having multiple folders within Outlook, I can simply click on the subject line of an e-mail (in Inbox, or any other Outlook folder) and drag it to the Explorer folder that I want to file it in.

This creates a file with the “.msg” extension in the Explorer folder, with the name identical to the e-mail’s subject line. The e-mail remains in Outlook too, and is normally best deleted. Double clicking on the “.msg” file opens it, and you can reply to or forward the message with a click, just as if you had started in Outlook.

To make finding files easier, you can first open the e-mail, click in the subject line and edit as you wish.

In many cases, it is better to first reply to the e-mail, then drag the reply, complete with the original e-mail to the Explorer folder.

When the e-mail includes attached files, you may prefer to first save the file to the folder of your choice, then remove the attachment, before (or after) dragging the e-mail message to the Explorer folder.


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