Three Microsoft Outlook plugin ideas

Microsoft Outlook is a very nice tool.  It has your email, contacts, calendar, and even a todo list all in one place.  You can create rules to sort your email, and it has a built in junk email filter that is pretty good.  However, there are lots of time saving features that have yet to be implemented.

Microsoft can not add every single feature that users think of.  But outside developers can create Outlook plugins that extend the functionality of Outlook.  Here are three plugins that would save me some time.

1) Why did I get this email?  Some emails I get have a “TO” and “CC” list that contains dozens of people.  Many of these are lists, that then contain lists.  This plugin would look at that list for any references to you.  Then it would look a the members of all the global lists.  Then it would look through any lists contained in lists.  It would then show which ways the email was sent to you.  So if list A was on the TO line, and list A contained list B which contained your address, it would say “TO: -> List A -> List B -> You”.  As a bonus, it would have a button that when pressed would generate an email to the list B owner (or whatever list you were on) asking to be removed from the list.

2) Who did I send this to? There are lots of emails and documents that I need to forward.  Sometime I lose track.  This plug in would keep track of which people a particular document/email was forwarded to.  It would give me a list of documents and the people that I sent it to and when.

3) How are we connected? In the Global Address List (GAL) there is information about who reports to whom, who belongs to what mailing lists, where people are located.  This plugin would allow for you to enter two people from the GAL, it would then show you what chain of managers connected them.  It would also show any shared mailing lists, or if there location was similar.  As a bonus, you could click a button on any entry in the GAL to display how the selected person is related to you, or select multiple people and see how they are related to each other.  This feature would be enabled in the email message view as well for people on the “From”, “TO”, and “CC” lines.  It should also be possible to create rules using this information.  For example, any email coming from a direct report of person A should be placed in folder A.

If you are an Outlook user and you know about a plugin like this, please leave informaton about it in a comment below.  If you are an Outlook plugin developer and would consider implementing any of these, please let me know that as well.

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