How to Supercharge Microsoft Outlook

Last Updated Aug 22, 2011 3:01 PM EDT

The newest version of Outlook -- Outlook 2010 -- includes some powerful enhancements to scheduling, search, and conferencing. But search isn't perfect, especially if you store important mails in folders outside the inbox. And sending meeting invites is still optimized just for other Outlook users. What if you deal with clients or vendors who use Google?

InboxEx is an Outlook add-on that brings the Outlook and Google worlds together. After installing InboxEx, you'll see a new sidebar on the right side of the screen. When you select a message in your normal inbox view, InboxEx automatically collects all the related messages and dsplays them for easy reference. In addition, you can search for any word, phrase, or recipient, and see all the related messages, even if they are located in disparate folders across your Outlook profile. This is a handy way to search, as it collects all the messages you might want to see no matter how you've filed them.

The add-on also lets you schedule meetings and phone conferences with a single click -- select a mail in your inbox and then choose the appropriate link in the InboxEx sidebar. If you've connected to Google Calendar, you can see Google user availability in the meeting, similar to the way you can also see the availability of Exchange users. And because InboxEx syncs with Google Calendar, Google users get your invite directly from Outlook.

InboxEx is a free download and it works with both Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010.

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Dave Johnson was employed by Microsoft Corporation at the time this article was written.