Outlook tasks, tagged and bagged

January 17th, 2006
Author: DialogueMedia

Over at Lifehacker, they’re pointing out a really cool way to use basic tagging concepts within the enterprise. Right now, tagging and folksonomy as a whole isn’t exactly the most popular thing within businesses and professional organization, but that’s just because the jacket doesn’t fit yet across the board. And it most certainly isn’t stopping people from trying to figure out what size it needs to be.

Heading over to Michael Sippey’s site, he’s got an .oft file for download, but he’s not explaining so much how to use it. I gave this a whirl this morning, and think it’s actually pretty slick – so here’s a short rundown on how to import this form for your use within Outlook.

First off, make sure that you’ve got all the necessary Outlook / Microsoft updates that you should. It’s not so smart to go using random forms and other Office / Outlook files without the proper security and virus scanning, so make sure you have all that down pat. (No offense, Mike!) As with anything else software or Microsoft-related, be aware that you’re adding a new form that might not react so well with your particular install, so don’t take any steps you’re not comfortable with. Enough with the disclaimers, let’s get down to brass tacks.

First off, scan and save that .oft file from Sippey’s blog. The way to figure out where it should go is to open up Outlook’s tasks function, and go to Tools > Forms > Choose Form. When you get the dialog box, go to “User Templates in File System.” (as seen below)

After choosing that option, the directory on your computer where your new task template should be placed will be shown – save the file there.

Now you’ve got the file on your computer, but how to use it? If you don’t want to have to go through the “Choose Form” option every single time you want the taggable tasks, you can easily add a button to your menu. Right click anywhere on the menu that contains the “New,” print, and “Find” options, and click “Customize.” On the following menu (seen below), drag and drop the “Task” option somewhere on your menu bar above, perhaps off to the right side.

Before closing the “Customize” menu, right click on the new “Task” option, and select “Change Button Image.” Select something you like, then go to where it says “Task” and edit that text. I’ve called mine “TagTask.” Finally, right click again and go to the last option in the menu, “Edit Hyperlink,” and choose “Open.” This should open up a dialog box that will allow you to browse to the file you previously saved on your computer. Select the file, then click “OK.” Click on your “TagTask” button, or whatever you’ve called it. You should see a form like the one below:

outlooktaskform.png

Enter a task – you’ll notice that this form doesn’t contain any other variables, such as Due Date, or Outlook’s pre-set categories. If you edit the form, you’ll find you can add pretty much anything you want, but not all users will have the desire (or time) to do so. This is a basic way to use tagging within the enterprise, and perhaps a first step in a taggable way for more people to categorize email folders. Much like many people have been pulled into the cult of Gmail, people may begin to tag things across the board – or at least want to.

outlookscrna.JPG

You’ll notice I’ve tagged my latest Task, “Press my Easy Button,” with the tags ’staples’ ‘press’ ‘easybutton’ and ‘meredithtopalanchik’ – if these seem basic to you, then there’s a reason for it. The point of tagging is that you’re not limited or worried about putting things in the wrong “place.” I can tag it 50 ways under the Sun, so anytime I’m looking for anything related to the tags I gave it, this task will come up. I don’t have to overthink which email folder I’m going to put it in to find it most commonly – it’s just “out there,” and the tags lead me back to it. Advanced Find is a great function, but tagging allows me a little more freeform than I’d have otherwise.

If you’ve got questions, feel free to contact me via email, tbiro (at) mww.com, or via AIM/Yahoo! IM at “themediadrop” – otherwise, Cheers!

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