We all have different work styles and ways to organize (or just cope with) the overwhelming number of files, sites, e-mail, notes, and contacts we keep. For example, despite my urging, one colleague of mine won't use Microsoft Outlook or a similar program for e-mail (or even save her e-mail) but instead drops important bits of information culled from various sources into a working file in Word. It's cumbersome, I think, but it seems to work for her.
Outlook is a wonderfully helpful program. It keeps my calendar, contacts, and tasks and serves as a mini-database of correspondence and company/product news. However, despite my best efforts to use it in the most efficient and helpful way, I'm often frustrated when trying to find a piece of information. Searching in Outlook is slow and kludgy.
But I recently got a note from a Vancouver, British Columbia-based company called Caelo Software that offered a way to save my time and reduce e-mail stress. Caelo has developed Nelson Email Organizer (NEO), a software add-on for Outlook. The note said, "NEO searches at 80 to 100 times faster than Outlook and automatically sorts and prioritizes messages and correspondents." That sure caught my attention, since Outlook really trudges when it's searching through my mass of e-mail folders for some half-remembered item.
NEO is an alternative interface for the e-mail portion of Outlook and does not replace any of the other functions. You can use it alongside Outlook, switch back and forth, or use it instead of Outlook. Most importantly, it doesn't change anything in Outlook, just the way you look at your messages. Caelo says to think of NEO as "an intelligent e-mail sorter." It automatically organizes e-mail in many different ways: by date, correspondent, mailing list, attachment, importance, etc.
Incoming messages are analyzed and automatically filed into many "virtual folders" in NEO's catalog. It doesn't copy messages, but creates indexes (shortcuts) to them. NEO indexes all words in a message for instant searching. And the searching really is amazingly fast: a few seconds for a full-text search across thousands of messages. NEO does Boolean searching, including AND, OR, NOT, and NEAR operators, and uses parentheses for phrases. It can also search for similar words, like "color" and "colour." I'm thrilled with the ability to detect items that I couldn't find with Outlook alone. Some reviewers say that NEO is the way Outlook should be.
With NEO, a little balloon pops up from the desktop system tray to tell you who has sent e-mail-kind of an e-mail caller ID. One feature I particularly like is a folder view that's created for each of my direct correspondents with both sent and received items. Bulk mail, such as e-zines, mailing lists, announcements, and junk mail, is automatically separated out. But all of this can be configured to personal needs and readily changed.
NEO was named "Top Email Organizing Software" in CNET's top 100 products of 2002 and has received many other accolades. I checked into some reviews before agreeing to try it myself. One happy user, Clint Langejans, network administrator at Network Innovations, Inc., said, "It's a great time-saving software package.… Best Outlook add-on we've come across."
NEO works with Microsoft Outlook 97, 98, 2000, or 2002 (Office XP) when using Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, or XP. It doesn't work with Outlook Express. NEO costs $39.95 for a single license, and site license discounts are available. The program is available for a free 30-day trial. It can be downloaded at http://www.emailorganizer.com.
According to Terry Johnston, Caelo's vice president of marketing, the company is now working on NEO 3.0, a major upgrade to NEO 2.5. It will also offer NEO Pro 3.0, an enterprise-ready application. Beta versions of both are due Sept. 1, with product releases scheduled for Oct. 15.
The NEO 3.0 products will deliver a redesigned user interface, new global filtering capabilities, improved views with more flexibility for organizing, and faster, more scalable searching with additional search parameters. Wonderful! One of NEO Pro 3.0's main advantages will be a unified view of multiple message stores. Users can decide which of their mailboxes and personal folders (PSTs, Archive PSTs) they want organized. NEO Pro will then let them view and search across all of these in one step.
So if you're overwhelmed and frustrated with your e-mail, maybe NEO can improve your Outlook too.