Easy email-tagging with EmailTags?

During the last weeks, I’ve been testing a new program recently released by StandSS called EmailTags. It looked like a great little Outlook Addon for tagging your emails swiftly instead of moving them into folders. It’s actually amazing that no one else actually came up with this kind of solution long ago! But unfortunately I was quite disappointed by the product (just like with the other StandSS products that I’ve tested before, i.e. EmailNotes and QuickFile (Actually, I am still kindo of using EmailNotes but it’s very unreliable as it sometimes doesn’t display the note attached to an email in the reading pane, which means that it misses the whole idea of reminding you what you wanted to include in the reply to that email. – Quickfile just messed up my whole Outlook and didn’t work properly so that I uninstalled it shortly after installing it).

But let’s get back to EmailTags: This product really has the potential of giving you a Gmail like tagging system on Outlook, but the problem is: it doesn’t. At least I found that it’s not working for me. It is not good at guessing the tags that it suggests because it uses only the sender(s) rather than the subject line and even the guessing of tags based on the email-addresses is not working consistently for me. Sometimes I don’t get a suggested tag even though I just filed an email to or from the same person a minute ago.

And adding tags manually, which you inevitably will always have to do at least at the beginning of a conversation requires quite a lot of clicks and keyboard strokes so that I often found it easier to drag the mail into a designated folder as I did before.

I still have some hope that StandSS will gradually improve EmailTags and so I was going to by the subscription for 7 US$ per year (at least for a year) now that my trial version has expired, but when I went to the website, there was no more cheap subscription but only expensive (20 US$) purchase. Apparently they changed their business model during the trial period. While it is of course their right to decide that, I am pretty annoyed since there is no way I’m going to spend 20 bucks on that immature product. 7 would have been ok, but 20?? And they are even threatening of increasing the price to 30 US$ soon.

It’s a pity, because these guys are really trying hard to make live easier with f***ng Outlook and their support is very helpful, but unfortunately, all in all, they are not succeeding quite yet (see also this post). I’m uninstalling EmailTags and going back to my folder based system. 😦

Another reason to reconsider using email-Tags as opposed to folders is that the tags will not show up on your phone and this has also cost me some time recently. In the folder system, I have all emails related to a certain project in one folder and I can access that folder from anywhere, whereas EmailTags requires an email client that reads the outlook “categories” (and even that will only work if you are on an Exchange server as opposed to IMAP).

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How to attach Post-it notes to your email in Outlook

Have  you ever wished to have some kind of virtual Post-it note that you could attach to emails in Outlook? For example to scribble down what you need to mention when you reply? Well, I have. And I was once more annoyed with Outlook when I found that although Outlook (2010) has a notes function, you cannot attach these notes to an email. It’s ridiculous! Well, let’s not discuss this further. It’s just too frustrating.

I found a little program that adds precisely this kind of sticky note functionality to outlook. Actually, I found two, but one of them did not work so well for me, so the one I recommend here is EmailNotes For Outlook. The one that didn’t work was Notes4Outlook (that was the version current in September 2011). So although the design of Notes4Outlook is somewhat more spiffy and it has way more options for customization, I cannot recommend it. I uninstalled it after some timeconsuming and annoying crashes. I even tried a second time a couple of weeks later but it still didn’t work. I guess, I should briefly mention what it was that made chose EmailNotes rather than Notes4Outlook (apart from the bad reviews it got from other users): Well, some pictures say more than a thousand words, they say, so here they are:

This occurred when I wanted to have the Notes displayed below the email in the reading pane rather than on the right hand side. Now the fact that this explanation comes up is nice (as opposed to nothing happening), but the problem is that this kept coming up even when I disabled the Outlook social connector.

This error message occurred when I tried to open a note:

Notes4Outlook also had a tendency to block my whole outlook. Even when I was in Calendar View, it seemed to prevent Outlook from updating the current folder. No idea how and why, but this problem disappeared after I unindstalled Notes4Outlook.

Okay, but lets forget about Notes4Outlook until someone posts a comment telling us that it is running fine now.

Lets talk about EmailNotes for Outlook instead. Its sold for US$ 29.95 by a little company called Standss on the Fijis. I think that’s quite a bit for the basic functionality, I guess they can do that with a near monopoly on that product. And at least it works. Their customer service is quite nice. I wrote to them complaining about a bug and they fixed it, and when I made some suggestions, they listened and replied, though they did not agree to implement all changes. Here is what I suggested (in Brackets is the response from Standss whether they are going to implement it):

I really like the idea of EmailNotes for Outlook but I also think that the price tag is a bit hefty at this point, considering the few features the program has. For 30 USD, I would expect some basic improvements such as the following:

– allow for customization of date/time format for the add date/time button (especially the option to switch to 24h clock!) [YES]
– allow for customizing the font, not only of the note but also the note header that is inserted automatically. The “Comic” font just looks too ridiculous. [YES]
– very important: allow editing the note directly in the note field below the email rather than in an extra window. Strangely enough, this is already possible for the email I’m currently editing, but not for the ones in my inbox) [NO – This is not possible due to a bug in how Microsoft has implemented this feature when using the Reading Pane. We spent many hours working around the bug but there was no solution]
– use the up to date windows buttons in the dialogues [MAYBE – We also support lower versions of Outlook so are limited in the style of button that we can use on the screens]
– add a “cancel” button and the corresponding “X” in the top right hand corner of the email note [YES]
– provide option “reply to email with note as text” rather than putting the note in the attachment.[MAYBE]

Here is an illustration of what I’m talking about:

Apart from that, I can just say, it works fine. Try it.