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  1. #1
    Lounger
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    Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    I've been looking for a long time for a tool that I'd love to have, and that I think a lot of others might want to have also.

    I'd simply like to be able to sort, search, etc. emails according to the categories that I have assigned to the sender of the email.
    I'd really like to be able to run down my entire list of contacts, give each one a category or two, and do that one time, and have Outlook help me organize or search emails from those people automatically. That is, I might assign "Client A" as a category to everybody that emails me from (or about) that company, and then I'd like to be able to isolate all emails that come from those users. The final result could be in one of two forms:

    1. A rule that says, "Move [or copy] this message to folders whose names are all categories associated with the sender". I know I could accomplish this eventually by manually setting up a separate rule in Outlook for each of my mail folders, i.e., a rule that routes messages from stated users into the right folder or folders, but that's a huge amount of work and would require a lot of maintenance. I'd like to do it all automatically just by assigning categories to users and having Outlook take it from there. Emails from senders without categories would just stay in my Inbox (or go into a separate folder called "uncategorized users", but the mail from any sender that I've categorized would go straight into a folder with the right name. Thus, whenever I receive email, I might see that there new emails from Client A personnel in the Client A folder and/or new emails from family members in the Family folder, etc. Then according to my priorities, I might look at my family email, then my various client emails, and leave emails from various vendors in their own folder until I have the courage to go look at them. My Inbox would always be close to empty, and my incoming email would be sorted out for me by category.

    2. A search folder (apparently one for each of my categories) whose criterion is, "All emails from senders with this category." Right now, I can make search folders of contacts in each category, but I can't search for emails sent from people in the category. Again, I'd have to make a manual list of criterea listing every sender whose email goes into each search folder.

    Right now, I can't do either, because what I want is some sort of indirect linking that isn't supported. I tried to develop such a tool in VB, but my chops aren't good enough, I guess.

    Have I just misread all the Outlook documentation? Or, is somebody selling a tool that will do what I want? As I said, I think others might like this approach as well, to escape from the misery of writing individual rules one at a time manually.

  2. #2
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    Perhaps there is a simple way to do it with Rules but on a quick review I don't see how and I tend to agree with you that it would require a lot of Rules and they would require a lot of maintenance.

    You should be able to accomplish this in VBA using the Item_Add Event hooked to the Inbox, searching for the Contact with the matching Sender Address (which would require looping through all Contacts until a match is found), and then moving the Mail Item to the applicable Folder with the matching Category name (also would require Loop, especially if you have nested Folders). You will have to maintain Categories for your Contacts. It might be wise to apply that Sender/Contact's Category to the Mail item. Also, remember that an Item can have multiple Categories, and Categories are not dynamic, meaning that if you change the Contact of a Category, that Category change will not cascade to other Items.

    The VBA would be feasible but not completely trivial to write. It might also slow Outlook's performance down if you have a large number of Contacts. You should find chunks of code here in the Forum for hooking the Item_Add Event on Outlook startup, for finding an email address in the Contacts folder, and for identifiying a Folder and Moving an Item into it, which you'd need to combine. What approach did you take with your VBA solution?

    .
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  3. #3
    Lounger
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    Thanks. Great ideas. I was able to create a simple one-category decision--if sender's category = XYZ, then move email to XYZ. It worked for one given XYZ, but I'd have to replicate all the code for each Category I decided to create. I wouldn't want to maintain all that code either. I like your idea of simply applying the Sender/Contact's category to the mail item, because then at that point I could define simple Outlook search folders as being all mail items in a given category and that would give me my desired result, or wouldn't it? I'd have to create a search folder for every category, but at least I wouldn't have to create new VBA code each time. Anyway, I'll sniff around for the chunks of code and try harder with VBA, now that it seems that I'm going to have to roll my own tool here. Thanks again.

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    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    > I could define simple Outlook search folders as being all mail items in a given category

    I think that would work fine.

    There will be Loungers, including me, who will be happy to help you with the code. Unfortunately my work schedule is not going to permit me much time in the next three weeks, but I'll post back to this thread with some pointers to chunks of code in the next day or so.
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  5. #5
    Silver Lounger t8ntlikly's Avatar
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    I have all of my contacts in both Outlook '03 and Outlook '07 assigned to categories, and there is a rule on the first page, "assigned to category" That won't work for you?
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  6. #6
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    That means "where the message is assigned to a specific category", not "where the sender is assigned to a specific category".

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    Silver Lounger t8ntlikly's Avatar
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    Hans,
    You are correct in that it assigns the e-mail from that person to a category, and then it moves it to a specified folder. I have all of my contacts set up with one or two categories (Supplier, and XXX Company) for example.

    When I receive an e-mail from someone that is a supplier, or an e-mail address that contains @xxx.com, the e-mail from that particular supplier is assigned a "Supplier and or / Company" category, and goes to a specific sub folder within the supplier folder.
    Now when I do an advanced search, I can search e-mail by the Supplier category and come up with all supplier e-mail, or I can narrow the search to a specific supplier.
    I am sure that someone could find some code to do this, but this has worked for me for a long time.
    Thanks John
    Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at. (Murphy's War Laws #39)

  8. #8
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    Can you show the exact steps you use to build the Rule, and how many Rules you have to make this work?
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    Silver Lounger t8ntlikly's Avatar
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    Sure John. I have rules for each company that I deal with by adding "@xxx.com", and rules for only those customers that I deal with on a regular basis.
    I hope this attachment helps
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    Thanks John
    Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at. (Murphy's War Laws #39)

  10. #10
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    OK, so the Rule doesn't know what Category(ies) the Sender has, each Rule has to be built with the Category specified, and there must be a Rule for each Sender, correct?
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    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    Here are some relevant Posts, many of them do other things than you need, but these should get you started:

    To hook Item Add event for the Inbox <post#=714,194>post 714,194</post#>
    To loop through first level folders: <post#=713,982>post 713,982</post#>
    To loop through multiple nested folders: <post#=685,076>post 685,076</post#>
    To set the Contacts Folder and examine every item in it: <post#=637,214>post 637,214</post#>
    To get at the email addresses in the Contact: <post#=579,358>post 579,358</post#>
    -John ... I float in liquid gardens
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  12. #12
    Silver Lounger t8ntlikly's Avatar
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    Correct on both counts, however as I mentioned you can add an entire company with one rule. I have 1,000 + contacts, close to 40 suppliers and have about 50 rules. I only use 12 Categories.
    IMHO Outlook is just another contact manager and e-mail client if you don't set up the categories. Once those are set up Outlook is absolutely powerful, especially Outlook '07.
    Thanks John
    Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at. (Murphy's War Laws #39)

  13. #13
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    Nice.

    Are you adding an entire company by using the "Has words in the senders address" option and specifying (for example) "@samplecompanydomain.com"? Or have you set Distribution Lists for specific companies? If neither, how do you set the Rule to apply to an entire company?
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  14. #14
    Silver Lounger t8ntlikly's Avatar
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    I mainly use "specific words in the senders address", but have added the domain as a new contact as well. Depends on how behind I am. Both work though.
    Thanks John
    Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at. (Murphy's War Laws #39)

  15. #15
    Lounger
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    Re: Isolate emails by category of sender??? (2003 (SP3))

    Thanks for all the suggestions, but I still don't get how your methods solve my problem. I studied your attachment, and I tried the ideas in it, but I'm still at the same point. Your method still seems to involve setting up distribution lists manually. As you say,

    'In the Rules wizard, put a Check “on this machine only” and “from people or distribution list” ...Go the next page...'

    and right there I have a problem, because the Rules wizard requires me to list the people or distribution list, and I don't see any way to do that except manually. What I ended up with was a rule that read, for example,

    "Apply this rule after the message arrives from joe@schmoe.com or Barack@whitehouse.org assign it to the Business category."

    I can add a lot of other people to the list, but I still have to do it manually. Or I can have a rule that says,

    "Apply this rule after the message arrives with Microsoft in the recipient's address assign it to the Business category",

    and I can add a lot of conditions and exceptions to that, but I again have to do it manually. I just don't see how the existing Outlook Rules structure allows me to do it any other way. Also, if a contact changes email address for some reason, I'd have to edit the rule in detail to account for that, and I'd rather not have to do that either.

    What I'd like to do is save or enter a contact and add a category to the contact, but never touch the email rule again. I'm willing to write a new rule for each category, maybe, but once the rule is set, I don't want to have to edit it ever again.

    So the rule I want would read, "Apply this rule after the message arrives take the categories specified for the sender and copy the message to those folders whose names are the same as the categories" or "take the categories assigned to the sender and assign them to the message also." I don't see how to write that rule in the present structure.

    The less desirable alternative would be, "Apply this rule after the message arrives from a contact whose category list includes Business; assign the category Business to the message" and replicate this rule for every different category I have. That might mean 20 or 30 rules, but it's still better than manually editing rules to have lists of possible senders.

    Unless I've really misunderstood something, I'm back to writing the VBA code to do the job.

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