This is our second installment on the many free, Outlook add-ons that enhance Outlook and increase it’s functionality (for the first part, follow this link). As in the first article, we present to you 12 of the best free add-ons we found, and as in the first article, we recommend that you install only the ones you need and not all of them, so as not to overburden Outlook.
The twelve add-ons are as follows: Outlook for Gmail, Xobni, Outlook Reply All Reminder, CodeTwo AutoLogon, Outlook on the Desktop, Move & Delete Watchdog, Important Mail Alert, TwInbox, CodeTwo Outlook Attachment Reminder, bxAutozip, PST Viewer, Outlook Password Decryptor, and ‘Number of Selected Items’. Below is a description of each.
- Outlook for Gmail: import your Gmail contacts into Outlook
- Xobni: people-centric email organization and search
- Code Two Outlook Reply All Reminder: never hit ‘reply’ when you need ‘reply all’
- CodeTwo AutoLogon: log into Exchange mailboxes or SharePoint services automatically
- Outlook on the Desktop: embed Outlook calendar, tasks, etc. in your desktop
- Move & Delete Watchdog: prevent accidental deletion or moving of folders
- Important Mail Alert: never miss an important email
- TwInbox: a full-featured Twitter client embedded within Outlook
- CodeTwo Outlook Attachment Reminder: never forget to add an email attachment
- bxAutozip: automatically compress attachments into a ZIP archive
- PST Viewer: browse PST files contents from outside Outlook
- Outlook Password Decryptor: recover your lost Outlook passwords
- (bonus) Number of Selected Items: displays the selected number of items in Outlook
1. Outlook for Gmail: import your Gmail contacts into OutlookIf you use both Outlook and Gmail, Outlook for Gmail is a terrific plugin that will let you import your contacts from multiple Gmail accounts and use them in Outlook.
2. Xobni: people-centric email organization and search
This one is probably the most well known Outlook add-on, and certainly one of the most useful. Xobni provides excellent email search, threaded conversations similar to Gmail, management of and easy access to file attachments, and a host of other functions.
Xobni is based on the notion of organizing data around ‘people’, rather than Outlook’s default chronological order. There are free and paid versions; the former contains all the basic functionality and is a must-have if you use Outlook.
3. Code Two Outlook Reply All Reminder: never hit ‘reply’ when you need ‘reply all’
Have you ever hit ‘reply’ when you should have hit ‘reply all’? Of course you did, and so has everyone else who has used Outlook (or any other email service). Enter Code Two Outlook Reply All Reminder; this free Outlook add-on stays invisible in the background, until it detects that you hit ‘reply’ in response to a group email, wherein it will spring into action and alert you to the fact.
Simple, and with nothing to configure, but potentially very useful.
4. CodeTwo AutoLogon: log into Exchange mailboxes or SharePoint services automaticallyThis program may be extremely useful to users of Microsoft Exchange mailboxes and SharePoint services who are required to enter login credentials from outside their domain profiles, or those required by their IT admins to log into Outlook manually every single time (as I know many do). The program will complete and confirm authentication for them automatically.
5. Outlook on the Desktop: embed Outlook calendar, tasks, etc. in your desktop
If you use Outlook’s calendar, tasks, or notes, and would like to have them easily accessible and visible right on your desktop, then this free add-on for Outlook is for you.
Outlook on the Desktop embeds a semitransparent window into your desktop that can display your calendar, tasks, notes, and even email, but what makes it better than other similar plugins is that it supports two way interaction from the desktop (i.e. will let you add entries right from the desktop, and not just view them). It is also highly customizable and offers multiple monitor support.
6. Move & Delete Watchdog: prevent accidental deletion or moving of folders
This one guards against the accidental deletion of folders or moving them out of their appropriate location. Hopefully this does doesn’t occur too frequently, but the way scrolling the left sidebar is implemented makes it a lot more likely than should be the case. Moreoever, even if this happened once it would be a major nuisance at minimum, or potentially a complete disaster.
Move & Delete Wartchdog will simply guard against this by warning you and asking for permission should you move or delete a folder. Simple, and a potential life saver.
7. Important Mail Alert: never miss an important email
This tool is intended to alert you to important messages that you should pay attention to. It works as follows: you create rules that tell it what keywords of phrases to look out for, and it will alert you when any of your incoming messages contains any of said keywords.
Note that your notification will be displayed on the desktop even if Outlook is minimized.
8. TwInbox: a full-featured Twitter client embedded within Outlook
Twinbox is a full-feature Twitter client that lives in your Outook, and stores all of your Tweets and your friend’s updates in the Outlook folder structure.
I remember trying this program out a while back, and then coming back to it more recently to find it greatly improved. If you use Twitter AND Outlook both, you will like Twinbox.
9. CodeTwo Outlook Attachment Reminder: never forget to add an attachment to an email
It happens all the time: you send someone a message, intending to include an attachment, only to realize that your forgot to add said attachment to the message. Attachment reminder guards against this by scanning your message for keywords such as “the enclosed attachment” or “attached” or whatever combination of keywords that you tell it to (see above left screenshot). It will scan your email just as you are about to send it, and if it finds these words without an attachment to go with them, it will display a message prompting you for the attachment (see above right screenshot). And yes, it is free.
10. bxAutozip: automatically compress attachments into a ZIP archive
This plugin will automatically compress any attachment that you add to your emails into a ZIP archive, which can be useful for the following reasons (a) most email services have a maximum attachment ceiling, (b) receiving large attachments that clog your inbox is a very unpleasant experience, and (c) it can save bandwidth and time.
Note that you can easily switch this plugin on and off through a button on the Outlook toolbar, it can also be set to process files that are larger than a certain size, and certain user defined filetypes can be excluded. Lastly, it can be set to create a self-extracting archive, although I would not recommend that you do so because most email services will reject executable files and you will likely end up with the email sent back to you. bxAutozip is free for personal, non commercial use.
11. PST Viewer: browse PST files contents from outside Outlook
If you’ve got huge PST files that contain months/years of emails and information and would like to access them quickly, PST Viewer is for you. This tool is very impressive and does the job brilliantly.
12. Outlook Password Decryptor: recover your lost Outlook passwordsThis program can instantly recover your lost Outlook password, for all versions of Outlook, for all account configurations supported by Outlook (Exchange Server, IMAP, POP3, SMTP, LDAP, and HTTP), and does it instantly within a second.
Somewhat scary, but I include it in this list of ‘must have’ Outlook add-ons because, well, it’s a must have if you forget your Outlook password. Guaranteed to work on all versions of Outlook: Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010 and Outlook Express.
Added bonus: ok, thirteen add-ons rather that twelve
13. Number of Selected Items: displays the selected number of items in Outlook
This add-on does something extremely simple: it displays the number of selected emails, appointments, contacts, etc. in the current view of Outlook. That’s all (see screenshot).
- Thanks to Alaa K for taking many of the screenshots above.
- Questions, thoughts comments? Please share them in the comments section.