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Make Outlook Behave Like GMail


By David Grant - Posted on 07 November 2007

There are a couple sources of information out there on how to do this:

  • petroleumjelliffe.com describes how to "Make Outlook Work Like GMail" however it does not explain how to get sent messages to go into the inbox and not be marked as read (this is explained in the comments, however)
  • richardgoodwin.com explains how to "Sort your mail in Outlook" which makes it look a bit more like GMail except he sorts by date rather than by Conversation Index (which is better).

Here's how to do it all (at least for Outlook 2003), all documented for you here in one place:

The first thing you need to do is make messages you send get put in the Inbox. An additional thing you need to do is make them get marked as read (otherwise you'll always have tons of un-read messages from yourself in your inbox).[img_assist|nid=277|title=Outlook Gmail Rules and Filters|desc=This is what my "Rules and Alerts" look after after adding a "CC send messages to inbox" rule and a "Mark messages from self as read" rule.|link=none|align=center|width=435|height=335]

The next thing you need to do is make your e-mails show up in something that somewhat resembles GMails conversations. I set "Group By..." to "Conversation (ascending) and "Sort..." to Conversation (index).[img_assist|nid=278|title=Outlook Gmail Customized View Options|desc=This is what my customized view options look like after grouping by conversation and sorting by conversation index.|link=none|align=center|width=477|height=326]

Now your inbox should look a lot nicer now and finally, click on the column "Newest on top" to have them sorted by date properly and your Inbox should look as shown in the image.[img_assist|nid=279|title=Outlook Gmail Final Result|desc=This is what my inbox looks like|link=none|align=center|width=496|height=599]


Great advice, and it looks very practical.
I tried this with Outlook 2007. The customizing settings are great - but I'm having some trouble with setting rules.

There is a rule that allows me to cc' myself on all e-mail sent - but I rather not use it because it appears as just that - I'm cc'ing myself on every e-mail, looks silly and unprofessional.

Instead there's a rule that says "Copy sent items to Inbox" so I set it. Now the e-mails that I send are copied into my inbox but they are marked as new e-mails. So I tried to set the second rule, but it's not registering that these e-mails are "From" me - and so they're not being set as read. Rather frustrating - any ideas?

Thomas

IMO, it doesn't look unprofessional if you CC yourself on every email. What is more unprofessional is the fact that Outlook doesn't allow you to BCC yourself on every email.

Because you are doing a "copy" those emails are treated differently than ones that you CC'd to yousrelf. Those "copied" emails are probably not going to get passed through the normal outlook filters. In fact I think I tried your method first, and after realizing this problem and the probable cause, I CC'ed them to myself instead. Again, if there was a Bcc option that would be perfect.

Use "flag as (Blank) in (Blank) days". I did flag as Read in 0 days. (Office 2010)

If you want to BCC, you can create a custom form to use (instead of the default outlook form) and add yourself in the BCC field. This way every new message is sent using that form.

Check out http://www.outlookcode.com/article.aspx?id=39

From your link:

"However, using a published custom form as a substitute for the default message form is a very bad idea, as it will likely annoy non-Outlook recipients and prevent them from getting any attachments you send them."

So will your custom form for BCC to self addition have this problem?

Just press alt-F11 to bring up VBA and copy the following code to your built-in ThisOutlookSession:

Private Sub Application_ItemSend(ByVal Item As Object, _
Cancel As Boolean)
Dim objRecip As Recipient
Dim strMsg As String
Dim res As Integer
Dim strBcc As String
On Error Resume Next

' #### USER OPTIONS ####
strBcc = "youremailaddress@blah.dom"

Set objRecip = Item.Recipients.Add(strBcc)
objRecip.Type = olBCC
If Not objRecip.Resolve Then
strMsg = "Could not resolve the Bcc recipient. " & _
"Do you want still to send the message?"
res = MsgBox(strMsg, vbYesNo + vbDefaultButton1, _
"Could Not Resolve Bcc Recipient")
If res = vbNo Then
Cancel = True
End If
End If

Set objRecip = Nothing
End Sub

I used this, works perfectly and no custom forms or anything like that.

This works perfect, one question, is there a way to set it up as like a redirect so I can see the additional to people in gmail? it shows up as from me. I just want a way to back up my sent email to my gmail folder automatically.

Thanks for your help

Hey,
I used this VB code and it worked the first day perfectly. Then it hasn't worked since. Any ideas?

I'm using this solution in Outlook 2003 but I have to revert to Group by Conversation (ascending) and Sort by Received (descending), as in Richard Goodwin's example. The reason is that I can't find a "Newest on top" column to click on. Is that a custom column?

I don't click on any of the columns or anything. I just set it up as shown in the screenshots. The "Newest on top" and "Conversation" columns only appear when I resize my Inbox pane to be fairly narrow. If I resize it to be wide, then I don't see it, I see the usual, From, Subject, Received, etc...

What you should do is change the Sorting in the view configuration to be first Conversation Index (ascending), then Received (descending). I tried it and it works.

Does anyone know of a way to preserve the look you get when the window is narrow (Conversation and Newest on top titles only) but with the window maximised?

Hi - I'm using Outlook 2007, and while using these settings does sort everything correctly, my conversations do not indent as the go down, as shown in your screen shot. How did you set it up to do this, it makes the readability much easier.
Thanks!

thanks for your post.

A suggestion for improvement:

After you say: "The first thing you need to do is make messages you send get put in the Inbox" - you might consider explaining how to actually set up the CC to self rule, rather than just showing a picture of the rules. I've been thumbing around for 10 minutes now, and can't find anything that looks like that rule to set up.

It's actually not that complicated. You just need to CC all outgoing messages to yourself. It's not a "copy message to Inbox" action though, as far as I remember.

Why not just create a search folder that includes your sent items, and then apply this view to that folder? You can then remove your actual inbox from the favorites folder so it doesn't get in the way.

This idea is good when you are starting to use some mailbox from day one but what if you are already using outlook for 4 year old Gmail account and you want to sort emails like Gmail?
This trick doesn't help old mailbox, does it?

Of course it does, just drag all your old emails in to one folder, including all your sent emails.

Hi there,
I found the following description:
http://arbel.net/blog/archive/2004/07/29/Gmail_2D00_like-Conversation-View-in-Outlook-2003.aspx

I used your ideas with the example of the website above. From that website I take the All Mail folder idea.
This way you do not need to CC yourself in all mails. This saves you a lot of time, energy and storage space ;-)

Hope it helped.

Patrick

I like the "All Mail" search folder idea.

Patrick's suggestions and link are great! Much easier. Thanks!

Now I just need to figure how to mimic the "archive" functionality of gmail wherein if someone responds to an email that you've archived, the whole conversation reappears.

have you found a solution to this yet?

I went to my sent folder and right-clicked on an email and selected 'Create Rule'.... then made a rule:

Apply this rule after the message arrives from ME assign it to the 'Sent Mail' category and move it to the 'Inbox' folder.

(I moved it so that my outlook file doesnt get huge from having duplicate emails.)

Then I created another rule in the same fashion with these criteria:

Apply this rule after the message arrives from ME mark it read.

Then I went to the inbox and right-clicked on the column headers and chose 'Customize Current View'. I set the following options:

'Group By...' = Conversation (ascending).
'Sort...' = Received (descending), Conversation Index (ascending)

That way, all of my sent email are organized with the conversation and any new mail automatically brings the conversation to the top of the list. I found if I didn't sort by Received, it wouldn't bring new conversations up.

Thanks for the info. I just set my Outlook up like this here at work and I love it! I know this is an old post, but I found it really helpful.

Outlook uses the subject field to group mail not the mail message headers. Thunderbird & Evolution group/thread mail properly even if the subject field is altered.

Relying on the subject field being static is a very bad assumption.

Outlook will group all mail that has blank subject field !

Dave, Could you re-write your original tip to include of the the suggestions above and update for Outlook 2007? Thanks!

hi,
I was trying to follow the steps you describe above, but couldnt creat "mark as read from self email " rules.

kindly me guide the steps.

thank you

myFolder2.Items.Sort "[Received]", True

Here is another way of doing it.

Go to Tools>Rules>New Rule>Check messages after sending

select
1- |_| with specific words in subject or body
2- with a in subject or body
3- move a copy to the Inbox folder.
4- Click Finish

Caveat: if you send messages with no in the sub or body (e.g. "LOL"), nothing will happen.

You can also do this with this Rule. Select
1-with specific recipients
2-with a @ in address

(Caveat, if you send a message with nobody in the To field, then nothing will happen.)
Any email that you send

Just a note to this, If you send emails out with the same subject you may run into problems i send out emails to users in the company and it will lump them all into one conversation so instead of Attention - Software updates required i have to do Attention - Software updates required - computer# so that the emails are tied to a specific pc.

no need for rules and filters to automatically save sent messages and move to inbox.

1. Enable auto save:
Menu > Tools > Options > Email Options
CHECK Save copies of messages in Sent Items folder.

2. Create a Search Folder to include Inbox and Sent Items.

This works great as it doesn't move emails around - especially relevant when you have mobile access to your Exchange account.

I've got this all working pretty well, but now I need to know how you've got the messages tabbed by reply index. Is that even possible? I suppose it could just be a photoshop trick...

Please see my Blog Post for a more sophisticated way to getting your sent messages to appear in your inbox using Gmail-style labels and search folders. It addresses many of the concerns brought up in the comments here and includes clear step-by-step directions.

I like this solution, but it still missing the one thing I like about Outlook: That it groups all my emails by dates, so I can know what emails came in on Mon, Tue, Last week, Last Month, etc.

I am using Outlook 2007--company has no incline into moving to 2010. I wanted exactly what this accomplishes, however I still wanted to have everything be grouped by date as well.

So then, if say in a conversation that happen last week, and then in my view is group by messages from Yesterday, if the latest installment happened today, then all the previous emails of the conversation are moved from the Yesterday group to the current day group.

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