Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I make the rules

All mail programs let you set up filters to manage what gets into your inbox.  I find that people don't use these nearly enough. Not every message needs immediate attention; some can be moved to different locations. In addition, creating filters means you don't have to move messages into folders manually.

For instance, I get messages from a writing group I'm taking part in. In my Eudora mail client at home, those messages are put into their own folder so I don't have to have them clogging my inbox.

Here at Siena, we use Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Web Access. Microsoft, as is all-too-often their wont, has given the filters a different name than what everyone else uses:  they call them rules.  I never could understand that thinking.  When there is a standard term for something, shouldn't everyone be using it? (Though I will give Microsoft a pass for not using the term "MAC address.")

In any case, you create these in Outlook by using the rules wizard.  In Outlook Web Access, there is a rules creation form (discussed as a part of forwarding e-mail, but the same instructions apply to other rules).

Using rules is especially useful when you subscribe to a mailing list. Some lists have hundreds of messages a day, so by creating a rule, you can keep them out of your inbox. It's also easier to manage them:  if you want to get rid of them, just highlight and delete.

With a judicious application of rules, you can save your inbox for messages that you really want to be notified about, while still keeping the others to read when you have the chance.

*The worst example was when Lotus Notes used "database" to designate what were essentially discussion boards.