Hate Microsoft Outlook? How to fix top annoyances

Microsoft Outlook is big, slow and quirky. Here's how to make it work better for you.

Although this back-and-forth copying will solve your problem, it's a major-league pain in the hindquarters. And it's prone to error as well -- you may accidentally overwrite a newer .pst file with an older one.

If you're willing to spend a little money, there's a more bulletproof solution: Get a program that will automatically synchronize your Outlook data between PCs. I found two good pieces of software that do the trick.

SynchPST for Outlook and PSTSync both do similar tasks and come with extras, like the ability to copy and synchronize only individual folders instead of entire .pst files. They're both shareware, so you can try them before you buy them. SynchPST costs US$39.95 for the Basic version and US$69.95 for the Professional version, which has extras such as the ability to schedule automated syncs. PSTSync costs US$59.99.

If you use a laptop and a desktop, and have set up your desktop for remote access, then there's an even simpler solution. When you're on the road and need to check your e-mail, make a remote connection to your desktop and run Outlook remotely. That way, you won't need to do any synchronization at all.

Annoyance No. 9

People complain my e-mails have weird characters and spaces in them. Outlook 2007 uses Microsoft Word as its mail editor. Even if you don't have Word installed on your system, Outlook uses a Word .dll, and so Word is what you get when you compose mail. Because of that, when you type an apostrophe, quotation mark or some other special characters, they may show up in other people's e-mail as blank spaces or oddball characters.

How to fix it: The problems are caused by Word's use of so-called smart quotes, which from some points of view aren't so smart. They're not plain-text characters, and so other e-mail readers may interpret them oddly, particularly if the e-mail reader uses plain text instead of HTML.

To fix the problem most easily, in Outlook select Tools -- Options -- Mail Format, and from the drop-down box in the Message format area, choose Plain text and click OK. From now on, Outlook won't use smart quotes. However, it also won't use HTML, either, so you won't be able to use fonts, colors and so on.

If you'd prefer to use HTML text for most messages but use plain text only for some, when you create an e-mail message, select Options from the ribbon at the top of Outlook, and click Plain Text. That way, only that message will be created using plain text; all others will still use HTML.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags microsoft outlook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Preston Gralla

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?