GOutlook - GMail for your Outlook

GOUTLOOK is productivity tool built on top of Outlook.
It is loosely based on GMAIL and aims to provide similar (and more) functionality to an outlook user for his/her local emails.


  • Ability to assign "labels" to email
  • Ability to create new "labels" from within outlook
  • Auto-creation of search folders for each label created
  • Ability to assign more than one label to an email
  • Ability to optionally move mail to an archive folder (gmail's "archive" functionality)


  • Microsoft Outlook 2003
  • Microsoft Office 2003
  • Microsoft .NET Runtime
  • Admin Privileges to Install / Uninstall Software


It is C#/.NET Outlook add-in that works for only Outlook 2003 that does the following:

  1. Adds a toolbar (with your current labels on it) to allow you to specify gmail-style labels to mails in your inbox (or anywhere else in Outlook) [you select the message and click on the appropriate label in the dropdown, its that simple!!]
  2. The same toolbar allows you to add new labels.
  3. At start, Outlook detects the current labels on the system and creates a “search folder” for each. Each such search folder is preceded by character “@”. So, if you create a label called “friends”; then you get a search folder called “@friends”
  4. You also have an “Archive It” button that can move your mail from your inbox (or anywhere else in Outlook) to “All Mail” folder. This “All Mail” folder (not a search folder but a “real folder”) is also created at start – if it does not already exists.

The idea behind this release is to give a taste of what is possible inside Outlook without re-organizing or screwing-up your data which is so important when you are dealing with something as critical as your entire email repository.

As you can see in the screen shot above, I have made my Outlook interface very gmail-like:

  1. I have “starred” and “all mail” folders. “Starred” basically gets all my flagged items (a built-in feature in outlook) – I flag items when I want an action item on them for the future.
  2. Other than, “all mail” (and built-in Inbox, Outbox, Sent Items and now mandatory “Junk E-mail”), everything else is a search folder (starting with @ - for each label). I have added the most common I use in my “favorite folders” – as you can see them.
  3. For the people I most often communicate with, I have used a similar convention and these people also each get a search folder starting with “#”. This feature is currently not released as part of Goutlook. But, I have a small vbscript that automatically adds my top 5 contacts as a search folder.
  4. Now, all I need is a fast way of searching my All Mail for specific words. I used to use Lookout add-in for that. However, I am currently experimenting with Google Desktop for that. I will probably go back to Lookout as I like the convenience of searching my emails from inside outlook and not have to fire another application (then again, may be I will just write a small add-in to fire google desktop (with flags to search only for emails) from inside outlook.

FUTURE ROADMAP  (in the order of priority):

  1. Allow for display of labels in subjects (preferably with a different color or font).
  2. A small script that automatically generates search folders for your 10 (or X) most frequently used contacts. (this currently exists but not released)
  3. Allow for managing labels (like delete / rename / merge / erasing labels)
  4. Move tags up in the drop-down when they are used.
  5. Allow automatic addition of labels to items sent in reply to the currently labeled messages.
  6. Improve the view for the search folders created. I am thinking of using a conversational view sorted on message received however suggestions are welcome.
  7. Provide goutlook toolbar in message window
  8. Provide deletion of labels in message window.
  9. Easy creation of Outlook rules to assign labels which some of my friends (who played with “pre-alpha” wanted to do) – including formatting rules for different types of messages.
  10. Create rules for people to label assignments (if its from contact X, it gets label "Friends")
  11. Add bayesian/heuristic assignment of labels so that rules are automatically added
  12. Integration of Google Desktop inside Outlook (to search for emails).
  13. Auto creation and deletion (or merging) of labels.

At this point, your email organization is automatically completly automated. Software figures out how you may want to organize it and adapts it as your work and life progresses (projects end and start, customers and contacts come and go or at least become more or less important). Implementing this feature (at least at its basic level) is not as far-fetched as it seems and I have a few ideas on how it may work.

  • It is also possible to go further from here to create some kind of “social web” to visualize which of your contacts knows each other and to what extent and how they are organized. Perhaps, there is a greater value in doing this at the organization level (so that a sales manager can figure out which of his customers – in a large territory – know which of his sales reps and vice versa) – so I might try this using Exchange or some such software that stores email. With some linkages to a CRM or similar packages; it could be converted into a great KM tool.
  • Another extension of such a project may be to allow similar labeling of data for all your files on your machine (no, not by hand – though that is allowed but based on auto rules that the software conjures up for you).
  • Yet another extension may be to add make certain labels “shareable” and items under a label is shared with a certain group of people (which is also another label) and making them sharable (And their acceptance of it) automatically, creates a label (or a virtual folder) in each person’s outlook. Then, when one of the people with a shareable label creates an item under the label (And it does not even be mail but could be); it automatically appears under everyone else’s shareable label (requiring nothing more than current mail protocols). This can allow creation of loose quasi-bulletin board, quasi mailing-list, quasi newsgroups from inside Outlook except that they are completely peer to peer with no central point of failure. For a sufficiently large membership of such a “shared label”; most people will not even know the complete membership of the group. However, I see the biggest utility of such a “shared label” in impromptu situation where everyone actually knows everyone else. Like a sales team or a dev team constructed across more than one or more organizations and / or departments. There are questions around invites and data forwarding and privacy here though I think most of them are solvable. May be I should do a separate article just on these.

In any case, I think I have diverged myself enough from my primary topic of gmail-style labels for Outlook and my implementation of those. So, download my outlook addin  from sourceforge and let me know what you think about it.


Tarun Upadhyay - lead for project - works for Induslogic Inc. More information about him could be found at his personal web-site at www.tarunupadhyay.com