Category: Email

NudgeMail: Remind Yourself

When you stay at a hotel, do you remember how you used to request a wake-up call? Actually, maybe you still do that. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a wake-up call for stuff you need to do?

And that’s why I’m excited about NudgeMail, a company that just launched this fall. NudgeMail lets you send reminders to yourself at whatever future date or time you choose. No registration. No login. No software to download. No complicated commands to remember. They really couldn’t have made this any easier.

Let’s say that I have an email exchange with you where we discuss working on a proposal for a joint presentation at an upcoming conference. The deadline for submissions is in two months. We decide to spend some time thinking about the proposal and then check back in with each other in a month. While I could put that on my calendar, if I did that for everything of this nature, my calendar would be cluttered in a hurry. I could add it to my to-do list, but then I would have 40 things on my to-do list. At some point, I stop looking at it. I know because that’s happened.

Or I could use NudgeMail. I just send an email (new email, forwarded email, or cc’ed email) to nextmonth@nudgemail.com (for the first of next month), or december5@nudgemail.com (for December 5th), or dec@nudgemail.com (for December 1st), or 1mo@nudgemail.com (for exactly one month from today). They’ve designed the system to be very flexible.

If I want a reminder later today, 5h@nudgemail.com will give me a reminder five hours from now. Or if I want a specific time, 5pm@nudgemail.com will give me a reminder at 5pm today. If I want a reminder tomorrow, tomorrow@nudgemail.com (delivered at 6:30am tomorrow; this default time setting can be changed) or 2d@nudgemail.com (two days from now) will do it.

Try it! Send an email to 5m@nudgemail.com. You’ll get a welcome email from NudgeMail, and then you will get a confirmation email telling you that you have a nudge set for today’s date at a time 5 minutes from now. In 5 minutes, you’ll get your reminder nudge.

Alternatively, you can just send your emails to nudge@nudgemail.com with your time commands in the subject line. For a reminder at 10am tomorrow you can either send a message to 10amtomorrow@nudgemail.com or you can send a message to nudge@nudgemail.com with 10am tomorrow in the subject line. Either works just fine.

Now, if that’s not cool enough, when your nudge arrives, this is what appears at the top of the body of the message:

Not quite ready to deal with this message yet? Snooze it. Clicking a given snooze time will generate an email to snooze@nudgemail.com with your chosen time in the subject line and the reference number for the email (in this case, Ref#: 2244) in the body of the message. At the time you chose, you’ll get your original nudge message sent to you again.

Want a list of your currently pending nudges? Send an email to status@nudgemail.com. Want that list every day? Send an email to daily@nudgemail.com. (Check NudgeMail’s FAQ for more information on the available commands.)

NudgeMail is currently in beta, so it is completely free. In the future, they anticipate having a free version and a subscription version. It looks like pricing may be dependent on number of nudges per month, but that is subject to change.

Bonus Tip

Have you started using Subtextual (formerly bccThis)? If not, see this earlier blog post. I can send an email to you, put 1w@nudgemail.com in the bcc field, and then add a note to myself using Subtextual.

Try it!

Seriously, try it. It has the potential to be one of those tools you can’t live without. I’m going to start cleaning out my inbox right now.

Outlook: Moving up or down?

It’s been a few months since I posted, and I’m emerging from my technology sabbatical. Fall quarter is in full-swing; it’s time to share what’s new.

It’s often the day-to-day kinds of activities where a little change can make a big difference. My focus in this post will be changing a default setting in Outlook that affects the order in which Outlook shows you messages.

Outlook assumes that you want to start reading the most recent message first. After deleting or filing the first message, Outlook takes you to an earlier message.

But that’s not how I read my messages. I start with the earliest one I haven’t read and then move forward in time toward the most recent message.

If I had no other mail in my inbox, it wouldn’t be a problem. However, mail I haven’t decided what to do with yet stays in my inbox until I have time to get to it. For instance, in the example I’m using, I may begin reading with the email marked with the arrow below.

After I delete or file that message, Outlook automatically takes me to the message below it. But I’ve already read that message. I want to move to the one above it. To do that, I have to use the arrow keys or the mouse to navigate. Or I can change Outlook’s default setting so that it moves up instead of down.

In Outlook, go to the File tab and select Options. Click Mail. Scroll down to the very bottom of the screen. In the dropdown menu, select “open the previous item.”

Click OK.

Now when you delete or file email messages, Outlook will automatically advance to the next most recent item.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subtextual (Formerly Bccthis): Send Two Emails in One

Update (5/8/2012 ): Subtextual appears to be out of business.  A number of users are reporting that it no longer works with their system.  The website is still up, but no one is home.

Update (11/3/2010 ): bccthis is now Subtextual. Their web address is still bccthis.com, however.

As you know, bcc (blind carbon copy) allows you to add recipients to an email message without the other recipients being aware of it.

Let’s say you reply to an email message, and you want your department chair to be aware of the exchange but you don’t necessarily want your recipient to know you’re making your department chair aware, so you bcc your chair. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to give your chair some background information in that same message?

For Outlook, Gmail, or Blackberry, the bccthis add-in (updated 11/5/2010: a free version and a pro version, currently $6.99) allows you to send an email to one person or group while at the same time bcc’ing comments to another person or group. In February, bccthis opened for beta testing. Since then the improvements have come fast and furious. If you install now, look for updates that improve this already powerful and user-friendly product.

This is what it looks like in Outlook. Open a new email message or reply to an existing message like you normally would. Type addresses into your To, Cc, and Bcc fields as you normally would.

Bccthis adds a box at the bottom of your message and automatically populates the address box on the right with the email addresses you added above. If you change those addresses, click the ‘reload’ arrow directly above those addresses to refresh the list. Check the boxes of the recipients to whom you want to send a bcc message. If you add someone to the bcc line, but don’t check their address in the bccthis box, they’ll get a copy of the original message, but they won’t get your additional comments.

Type your message to the “to” recipients where you normally would, and then type your message to your bcc recipients in the bccthis box. That’s it. Hit send. Your “to” recipients get a normal looking message. And this is what your bcc recipients receive. Your recipients do not need the bccthis add-in to read your message.

Replies to a bccthis message go only to the sender. The other bcc recipients are unaware that there are other bcc recipients unless you tell them.

Bccthis includes emoticons. Click the smiley face and select your emoticon. It’s just an image, so feel free to copy and paste or drag that emoticon into your “to” email message.

To save a ‘note to self,’ add yourself to the bcc line or use the “Bccthis Batch Quick Links.” This is just a quick way to bcc yourself. If you’d like, create a note-to-self folder in Outlook to store all of your notes-to-self. Use Simply File to quickly file these messages or always add special text, like #note, and use Outlook filters to automatically file the message for you.

If you use it, use the comments box below to let me know what you think!

Outlook: Tips and Tricks

If you’re like me, email is a huge part of your work life. Are you using these Outlook time-savers?

 

Managing attachments

To add an attachment to an Outlook message, locate your document, left click and hold on the icon. Now drag it into the body of your email message. It’s attached!

In this image, I’m dragging a Word document from my Desktop into the body of my email.

This works the other way, too. If you receive a message that has an attachment, left click and hold on the attachment and drag the file icon onto your Desktop or into a folder.

 

Outlook-specific keyboard shortcuts you should be using

Open a new message: CTRL-N

Reply to a message: CTRL-R

Send a message: CTRL-ENTER

 

How to find other keyboard shortcuts

In any MS Office 2007 product, pressing ALT will show you the keyboard shortcuts. Here’s an example from an Outlook email message I’m composing.

ALT-H takes you to the message Home tab. ALT-N takes you to the iNsert tab. ALT-P takes you to the oPtions tab. And so on.

 

If I type ALT-H, I get these options. Now typing AC, for example, will center my text. Typing 1 will switch to bold print. Typing OC allow me to add my signature.

 

Try out keyboard shortcuts for Outlook. You’ll get through your email a lot faster!

 

 

EZDetach Outlook Attachments

Last month I wrote about electronic grading. With regard to saving the assignment files from students I said, “The papers themselves are saved to a ‘Student papers’ folder in ‘My Documents.’ Each file I save is renamed with standard nomenclature: Student last name, assignment, and whether the assignment was turned in late.” Of course what that means is saving each incoming file individually.

I now have a better option. EZDetach, a TechHit product. With two mouse clicks, all of the files attached to email messages in a given folder are saved to a My Documents subfolder, and they even have helpful filenames.

As I wrote in that earlier blog post, as assignment emails come in from students, I move the files into a “grade these” folder in Outlook. Using EZDetach, when I’m ready, I can detach all of the files at once.

EZDetach adds an unobtrusive icon to your Outlook toolbar. Go to the file folder where you’ve saved your student assignment email. Select the messages that contain the files you want to detach by holding down the CTRL key and clicking on each message. If you want to detach them all, there’s no need to select any.

Click the EZDetach icon, and the EZDetach pop-up window appears. (See the screenshot below.) Clicking the option button gives you the options menu.

Process Attachments in. Choose whether you want to save the attachments from just the email that you have selected or if you want to do it for all of the email in that folder.

Destination Folder. Browse to the folder where you want to save your files. If you have already used EZDetach, it will remember the last folder you chose. Clicking the down arrow will give you a list of the folders you’ve chosen in the past.

Options. Click the options button to expand the options menu. Now you can decide how you would like to name your files and how you’d like to your subfolder if you’d like the files to be moved to a subfolder.

For example, in the screenshot below, I’ve asked EZDetach to add the name of the sender and the sender’s email address to the filename, and to not create a separate subfolder to house the files.

Let’s say that I received these email messages with these files attached:

Wonder Woman (Wonder.Woman@marvel.com) Assignment1.docx
Spiderman (spidey@marvel.com) Homework.wps
Captain America (CaptAmer@marvel.com) psychhw.doc

I click the EZDetach icon, and when the popup window appears, I click Save Now. EZDetach will do the rest. With the settings I have chosen in the screenshot, EZDetach will save the files to my Student Papers folder in My Documents. The files will be named:

Wonder Woman – Wonder.Woman@marvel.com – Assignment1.docx
Spiderman – spidey@marvel.com – Homework.wps
Captain America – CaptAmer@marvel.com – psychhw.doc

EZDetach truly is easy to use. Try it 30 days for free. If it’s a big time saver for you, it’s $39.95 to purchase.

Xobni [inboX]: Not Just Another Outlook Addin

Xobni allows me to quickly find email messages, attached files, and contact information for anyone who has ever emailed me. With the large number of students each term as well as various committee responsibilities and other collaborative projects, Xobni has made managing the onslaught of email much easier! For example, when I agree to write a letter of recommendation for a student, I turn to Xobni to call up all previous emails and files exchanged with that student. Within those I often find specific examples I can use in writing the letter.

Most of Xobni‘s functionality can be found in its free version. For a one-time $29.95 fee, you can upgrade to Xobni Plus which gives you a bit more power. Everything in this post, I believe, is included in the free version. Click here to see a comparison between Xobni and Xobni Plus. (If you tried Xobni before, you may have found that it slowed Outlook down when starting. With improvements, Xobni doesn’t slow it down as much. It’s worth trying again.)

This is what my Outlook inbox looks like. Xobni occupies the fourth column. Whatever message is selected, Xobni displays the information for that sender. In this case, I’ve emailed myself and have that message selected, so my information is displayed. This is my Xobni profile as it appears in my Outlook.

Xobni gives me all sorts of information about the sender, e.g., contact information such as email addresses and phone numbers. I have the Facebook icon selected so I get the sender’s most recent status update (assuming the sender and I are Facebook ‘friends’ or the sender’s Facebook profile is public).

Selecting the other icons in the center of the image above produces a wealth of information.

Analytics. This graphic shows how many emails I’ve sent and received and when I’ve received them. If I had someone else selected in Xobni, I would see how many emails I have sent them, how many they have sent me, and when they have sent them.


Actions. Clicking the orange ‘actions’ icon allows me to email the person. (Remember, Xobni displays the information for any person whose email you have selected in your inbox.) If I click “Email Sue,” a new message pops up with the email address already filled in. If I click “Schedule a time with Sue,” Xobni not only opens a new email message, but it also accesses my Outlook calendar, automatically enters my free times for the next 5 working days, enters my standard sign off and signature information. Very handy!


LinkedIn. Click the LinkedIn icon to call up information from the person’s LinkedIn profile.


Hoovers. Hoovers.com provides public information about companies. If the person works for a company in the Hoovers database, the Hoovers button gives me a snapshot of the organization. When I receive email from someone who works at APA, this is what Xobni gives me. Clicking “view more” at the bottom takes me to the Hoovers page for APA.


Further down. In the bottom half of the Xobni column, I get a list of people associated with the email sender in the “Network” area. When I send or receive email from a particular person, this box identifies who has been cc’ed on those various emails. Selecting one of them replaces the current Xobni profile with the profile of the person I have selected.


In the “Conversations” box, I get a list of all of the emails, clumped by subject line, I have exchanged with the person whose profile is displayed. Each threaded conversation is dated with the most recent first. Mousing over a conversation thread, like I’ve done here, produces a pop up window with a preview of the messages in the thread.

If I select the thread, the Xobni person profile is replaced with more detailed information.

Then if I select a message within the thread, I can choose to open the message in Outlook or reply to the message directly from Xobni. Any time I want to go back, I just hit the “Back” button. If I want to go all the way back to the beginning, to the original profile where I started, I click “Start Over.”

There’s a very similar process for “Files Exchanged.” Here I get a list of the files I’ve exchanged with that person, both ones I’ve sent and received. Mousing over the file name gives me information from the email the file came with as well as information about the file itself. Double clicking the file name will open the file.

In the “Appointments” area I can see what upcoming appointments I have scheduled for the person whose Xobni profile I’m viewing. (Remember, to view a Xobni profile, just select the person’s email in Outlook.)

Search. With all of that said, the Xobni feature I cannot live without is search. In the search box, enter your search term, and Xobni will search people, email messages, appointments, and tasks. (In the free version, for messages, Xobni will only search subject lines and will search your current Outlook messages plus one archive file. Xobni Plus will search the message body in both your current Outlook messages and in an unlimited number of archive files.)

Download Xobni. Try it out. It’s free!

UPDATE (5/7/2010). Xobni released version 1.9 on April 14, 2010.  The functionality is pretty much the same, but the user interface looks a little different.  Xobni also now collects URLs exchanged between you and the person whose information you are looking at.

SimplyFile: An Outlook Addin

Even with a whole host of new technologies out there, for communicating with people at a distance, email remains my lifeline. For work email, I use MS Outlook, as I have for years. I always wished it would work how I wanted it to work. TechHit’s SimplyFile gets me closer.

I can file an email message in its appropriate folder with a click of a button (or keyboard shortcut). I can create a task from an email message. I can turn an email message into an appointment in my calendar. I can make a message disappear from my inbox for a designated period of time, and then have it reappear on its own later.

SimplyFile is an Outlook addin. (Try it free for 30 days. After that, it’s $39.95.) I tried it for 30 days, but I wasn’t sure it was worth the price. I uninstalled it. After not having it for an hour, I pulled out my credit card. It made my email time so much more efficient, I couldn’t go back to my pre-SimplyFile way of doing things. The software is so easy to use, there’s really nothing to learn. Truly.

The toolbar. There are two ways to access the SimplyFile toolbar. If I’m viewing messages in the main Outlook window, I can use the bottom-most toolbar in this image.

If I’ve opened a message, the toolbar appears here:

Filing messages. When I have a message selected in Outlook, SimplyFile takes a guess at which folder I’d like to move it based on where I’ve put similar messages in the past. If I want to put the selected message in the ‘OTRP’ folder, all I need to do is click ‘File Message’ or use the keyboard shortcut Alt+M. If that isn’t the right folder, clicking the drop down arrow in the folder box gives you SimplyFile’s next best guesses.

The first ones are SimplyFile’s top 5 guesses. The next 20 are good choices. If I don’t like any of those options, I click ‘<Select/Create folder>’ to select/create a new folder.

Did you accidentally file the message in the wrong folder? Click ‘Undo File’ to pull the message back into your main inbox. Just like using undo in Word, you can undo the filing of several messages. (I don’t know how many can be undone; I have only had occasion to undo 5 or so in a row.)

This list shows all main folders and their subfolders listed together. If you’d like to see the folder paths, you can change that setting in SimplyFile’s options menu.

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Task it. When I get an email that requires some action on my part, I ‘task it.’ This not only calls up Outlook tasks, but it embeds the message in the task. For example, let’s say I open the following message.

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All I need to do is click ‘Task It,’ and SimplyFile opens a new Outlook task. The subject line from the original email is the subject line for the task. Change it if you’d like. The body of the email is reproduced in the body of the task. Also feel free to edit this space at will. Double clicking the envelope at the bottom of the body will open the original email message.

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Schedule it. Open an email. Click ‘Schedule It.’ Outlook opens a new Outlook appointment. Like a task, the email’s subject line becomes the appointment’s subject line. The email’s body is copied into the appointment’s body. Double-clicking the envelope at the bottom opens the original email. You will need to change the date and time. SimplyFile isn’t smart enough (yet?) to pull the date and time out of the body of the message.

If there were other recipients of this message, they all would be included when I click ‘Scheduling.’

If moving your mouse to click ‘Schedule It’ isn’t fast enough for you, in SimplyFile’s options, you can create a hotkey that will allow you to turn an email into an appointment without your fingers leaving your keyboard.

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Snooze it. Have a message in your inbox that you don’t need to deal with right now? But you want to get it out of your way? Hit the snooze button.

For any message, when you click ‘Snooze It’ this dialog box appears. The default is 7 days, but change the days/hours/minutes to whenever you’d like. The message will disappear, then like magic it will reappear in your inbox at the time you designated.

To do this, SimplyFile creates a ‘SimplyFile’ folder in your inbox with a ‘Snooze’ subfolder where it holds your snoozed email messages until the time expires.

If you’d like to see what’s snoozing, just open that folder. If you’d like to de-snooze a message, just drag it back into your main inbox folder.

Try it.
Download SimplyFile and try it out for 30 days for free. If you uninstall it and go back to your current way of handling email, let me know how you managed it!