It is C#/.NET Outlook add-in that works for only Outlook 2003 that does
- 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!!]
- The same toolbar allows you to add new labels.
- 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”
- 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
As you can see in the screen shot above, I have made my Outlook interface
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
FUTURE ROADMAP (in the order of priority):
- Allow for display of labels in subjects (preferably with a different
color or font).
- A small script that automatically generates search folders for your 10
(or X) most frequently used contacts. (this currently exists but not
- Allow for managing labels (like delete / rename / merge / erasing
- Move tags up in the drop-down when they are used.
- Allow automatic addition of labels to items sent in reply to the
currently labeled messages.
- Improve the view for the search folders created. I am thinking of
using a conversational view sorted on message received however suggestions are welcome.
- Provide goutlook toolbar in message window
- Provide deletion of labels in message window.
- 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.
- Create rules for people to label assignments (if its from contact X,
it gets label "Friends")
- Add bayesian/heuristic assignment of labels so that rules are
- Integration of Google Desktop inside Outlook (to search for emails).
- 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.
ABOUT THE DEVELOPERS
Tarun Upadhyay - lead for project - works
for Induslogic Inc. More information about him could be found at his
personal web-site at