Viewing Emails by Conversation in Outlook

I have been yearning for some time to have a gmail-like Conversation view in Outlook. Currently you can group by Conversation. However, this view will only allow you to group the emails in one folder (and if you can’t combine emails you have received with emails that you have sent, a conversation view is not worth much). However, by setting up a Search folder, you can get around this restriction:

  1. Set up a Custom Search Folder, set to include all messages that are in any of your mail folders (including Sent). You can get to this with File > New > Search Folder or Ctrl + Shift + P. There are also good instructions for this at HowToGeek.
  2. Click on the new Search Folder, and then go to View > Arrange By > Conversation.

That’s it. It works pretty well, though it does rely a bit too much on using the subject as the thread/conversation identifier (which is fine when you have a unique subject, but not fine for generic subjects). Hopefully this will be improved in 2010 (though as of now, initial reports are not good). Still, in many ways it is far superior to the regular inbox view (and unlike Gmail, you can still maintain a different grouping method in your inbox, and apply technologies like Sorting which for some reason are still beyond Gmail’s capabilities).

Select All Conversations in Spam

One of the reasons that I really like Gmail is that I know that the development team in Mountain View is pretty active. How do I know? Because every few weeks or months I notice new, helpful, well thought-out features in Gmail that were not there before.

Every few days I go in and clean out my spam folder. Today there were 399 conversations waiting for me. Usually I have to do the following:

  1. Select All 100 conversations on the screen
  2. Delete
  3. Repeat for every screen

I understand why they make you do this, but it still gets annoying when you have a bunch of screens to take care of.

Today when I went to delete my spam conversations, what do I see?

Gmail - Select All Spam

That’s right. You can now select all of my spam conversations and delete them at once. Or don’t. (I did). The nice thing is that there are new features constantly being added with the intention of making my life easier, something only possible with a web application. Thanks Gmail!

Low Usage Numbers Not so Alarming for Google

Techcrunch is reporting on the low usage numbers Google products (specifically their Google Talk IM program) have compared to some of their competitors. Here are some more numbers regarding Google and their competition, from the NY Times. Though Michael notes that the scores given do not include usage of the program through the embedded client-software in Gmail, the numbers are still pretty shabby. He recommends that Google “roll some heads and figure out a real product strategy.”

While “rolling some heads” every once in a while is not such a bad idea, I do not think that the Google product line is in as much danger as one might think. The New York Times story referenced earlier (In the Race With Google, It�s Consistency vs. �Wow�) hints at the reason: Although Google might be losing the footrace in terms of numbers when it comes to news, email and IM, they are making up for it in terms of quality and most importantly, the “Wow” factor. They use the type of technology that the techies and Slashdot crowd like (compare Google Finance with Yahoo Finance to see what I mean), and this most-important sector of the market is the ones who are driving tomorrows technology trends. Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL have had years to build up huge subscriber bases with Email and IM, so it is understandable that Google has a long way to go. However, their growth is stagnating and their products are not so attractive compared to what Google (and other similar companies) have to offer. Put it this way: whenever I hear from a friend or acquaintance that they set up a new email account for personal use, 99% of the time it is a gmail account. That is why these numbers don’t really seem to me to be such bad news for Google int he long-term. They do not capture the overall market trend, especially among the market-movers.