Accessorizing with Outlook 2003

Outlook can do plenty for you without any outside help, but a few well-considered accessories can make your life even easier. Some accessories make up for capabilities that Outlook ought to have; other accessories help you use Outlook data anywhere, anytime.

Palm organizer

Although you can enter and manage data in a snap with Outlook, you can carry your most important Outlook info in your pocket on my Palm device. You can even read your e-mail on the subway using the Palm organizer (something you probably wouldn't try with a laptop).

Several types of handheld computers are on the market today. These products include the Palm-brand devices, Handspring Treo, Sony Clie, and certain phones by Kyocera and Samsung. Some new handheld computers use the Pocket PC system that Microsoft makes. You might think that the Microsoft Pocket PC system is more compatible with Outlook, but it's not. Many folks say with conviction that Palm still offers better value for the money.

Microsoft Office

When Outlook was first released, it was a part of the Microsoft Office 97 suite. Now that you can buy Outlook as a standalone product (or in a package with Internet Explorer), you may not have the benefits of using Microsoft Office and Outlook in concert. Office enables you to do all sorts of tricks with outgoing e-mail and graphics, while Outlook makes it a snap to exchange the work you've created in Office via e-mail.

A business-card scanner

You can use several brands of business-card scanners to copy contact information into Outlook from the business cards you collect at conferences and trade shows. Of course, you can enter all the info manually, but if you collect more than a few dozen cards per week, a business-card scanner can save you lots of work.

A large, removable disk drive

Ever ask yourself, "How do I back up my Outlook data for safekeeping?" Because the Outlook data file is much too big to save on a floppy disk, you may want a large-capacity device for storing your data. The Iomega Zip drive costs about a hundred bucks, hooks up to your USB or printer port, and gives you lots of space.

You might also consider a CD burner for backing up your Outlook data. Many new computers come with a CD burner already installed, so if you have one, take advantage of it.

CopyTalk

Entering information into Outlook is pretty easy, as long as you're near a computer. If not, an even easier method is to make a phone call. A service called CopyTalk enables you to add appointments, tasks, and contact information — even send e-mail messages — by making a phone call and telling their system what you want to do. With CopyTalk, any time your cell phone works, you can too. You can find out more at CopyTalk.com, but please remember to turn off your phone at the movies, okay?

Address Grabber

The quickest way to fill up your Address Book is to capture addresses from the Internet by using a product called Address Grabber, which costs $49 from eGrabber.com. If you've installed Address Grabber on your computer, just highlight any address that appears on-screen — from a Web page, a document, or an e-mail message — and the address is automatically sorted out and transferred to your Outlook Contacts list. It's a wonderful timesaver.

Quicken

Quicken, the world's most popular personal finance program has an address book that you can now synchronize with the names in your Outlook contact list. When you add Quicken to Outlook, you get a single source of information about the people with whom you do business, making it easier to send messages, money, or mail.

Dymo LabelWriter

The people who designed Outlook got so excited about e-mail that they completely forgot about that old-fashioned stamp-and-paper system that some people still prefer (how quaint!). Outlook alone can store zillions of mailing addresses, but it doesn't do a very good job of putting an address on an envelope. Dymo LabelWriter bridges that gap. The LabelWriter prints any address from Outlook to a convenient gummed label that you can stick on a package or envelope faster than you can say "United States Postal Service."

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