Frustrated With Outlook

I’ve been using Evolution quite a bit in Linux Mint lately, and it’s really made me realize just how frustrating Outlook can be. After the jump is a list of features that I believe are missing from Microsoft Outlook. If you know of any easy way to add any of these features (other than payware add-ins), please let me know. Also, if there are other features that you’d like to see Microsoft add to Outlook, please feel free to post them.

Batch “mark as junk”

This is probably the most frustrating aspect of Outlook when I’m using it at home. When I get six or seven (or 45) junk e-mail messages all at once, it would be really nice to be able to highlight all of them, right-click and choose “Mark as junk” or “Add sender(s) to blocked sender list”. Instead, in order to actually mark the messages as junk, I have to select each message individually and mark them as junk.

Evolution, on the other hand, has a smart junk filter that actually “learns” about the messages you mark as junk, and allows you to mark a whole collection of messages all at once (as does the Web interface of Yahoo! Mail).

In Outlook’s favor over Evolution, however, Outlook seems to catch and properly flag more junk messages than Evolution, so not nearly as many actually make it to my inbox.

Attachment Checking

Evolution (and, IIRC, Thunderbird as well) has a very nice feature that checks the body of outgoing e-mail messages for text indicating that an attachment is included. If that sort of text is found and there is no file attached to the message, a warning pops up letting you know that you might have forgotten to attach the referenced file.

Outlook, of course, does not have this feature.

Blank Subject Warnings

Even Outlook Express (yes, the free, stripped-down version of Outlook) has this feature; but the full-blown Outlook lacks it.

There are very few things in normal e-mail communication that are more frustrating than a stack of e-mail messages with no subjects. Evolution, Outlook Express and many other e-mail clients will warn you when you press the “send” button on a message that doesn’t have a subject.

I did find a decent fix for this issue in Outlook 2007, but it involves pasting some VisualBasic into a script window and saving it as a macro. Of course, because of Microsoft’s warped view of security, I actually have to “enable” the macro every time I start Outlook.

Unfortunately, in doing so, I have to do a blanket “enable macros” for the whole Outlook session, which means that the security isn’t really helping me out (after all, if there was a malicious macro that somehow got installed on my computer, I’d be unknowingly enabling it at the same time). Just another great example of a short-sighted view of computer security.

For those interested, I will try to post a comment later with the address of that fix (if I can find it again).

Printing Options

The print dialog inside of Outlook 2007 absolutely stinks. You have little to no control over your print job at all. You can’t print a single page or range of pages, you can’t print the “selection”, etc., etc., etc.

I did find a good fix for the print dialog in Outlook 2007, but it does cost money. The program is called BluePrint, and I am fairly impressed with the amount of functionality it adds for the relatively low price. Still, it would be nicer if Microsoft could fix this problem for free.