Posts from December 2007.

New in v4: Go To Topic

We received an outpouring of requests to implement a Go To Topic feature in v4.  Accessed from the Topic Selector, Go To Topic allows you to jump straight to a Topic folder.

Select the Topic button to the left of the Topic drop down or Alt-P to open this dialog. In the Topic Search tab, start typing any part of the Topic name and the search window will filter the Topic list using down to the Topic desired or click the Topic Tree tab for an easy way to visualize and assign Topics and Sub Topics. Click the Go to Topic button in this window to open the folder associated with the currently selected Topic.

New in v4: Mark as Read When Filing

One of the oft-requested features in v3 and earlier was the ability to mark messages as read when they are filed.  As you are probably aware, IMS allows the ability to file individual messages, message conversations or entire Topics of messages.  IMS v4 automatically marks all of these messages as read when filing.  You can change this behavior to leave unread messages be via ClearContext > Options > Preferences > Misc > Filing.  See our User guide for more information on Topics and Filing.

New in V4: Topic Query on Save

For v4, we extended Topic Query on Save functionality from outgoing messages to include Tasks and Appointments.  As you create new items, IMS will query you for a Topic assignment.  This allows you to view this information by Topic in the IMS Dashboard.  Turn this feature on/off in the Topic Assignment on New Tasks and Appointments at ClearContext > Options > Preferences > Tasks/Appts:


Similarly, you can turn this feature on/off for messages via "Ask about selecting a Topic if one is not assigned" on the Topic Options tab:


New in V4: Do Not Disturb

When you are ready to focus on your work for the day, use Do Not Disturb to disable all default Outlook notifications for new messages, including New Mail Desktop Alerts, changes in the mouse cursor, the envelope icon in the system tray and the default new mail sound. 


To use this feature, select Do Not Disturb from the ClearContext menu.  In the Do Not Disturb dialog, select the length of time that you would like to have new mail notifications disabled and click OK.  When the time frame specified has past, IMS will re-enable message notifications.  If you would like to reset your notifications prior to the expiration time, select Do Not Disturb from the menu again.  Do Not Disturb will also reset notifications if you restart Outlook.

Alerts will continue to notify you of important email that needs to be responded to, even if it is received during the Do Not Disturb quiet period.  Set Alerts on your most important contacts or email conversations if you want to be notified of receipt regardless of Do Not Disturb status.

Task Reminders

A quick tip…  If you are using IMS task functionality, you may want to adjust Outlook’s task reminder default settings.  Go to Tools > Options:


  • The reminder time is the default notification time Outlook uses when creating new tasks.  This is also the default time that IMS uses for Defer.  I suggest setting this to an hour after you normally start your day, giving you the chance to identify your most important items prior to the alarms going off.
  • Click the Task Options for additional preferences.  I personally prefer that "Set reminders on tasks with due dates" is unchecked.  I then manually set task reminders for my really important, time sensitive tasks.

IMS v4 Upgrade Discount Available Through EOY

A quick note to registered IMS v3 and earlier users.  Purchase an upgrade to v4 before the end of 2007 to take advantage of the introductory upgrade price of $29.95 USD.  The regular upgrade price of $44.95 applies starting January 1.

Office 2007 SP1 is Available

For our Office 2007 customers, Microsoft released Office 2007 Service Pack 1 this week.  From the Office Outlook Team Blog, the SP provides the following:

  • General performance and responsiveness improvements
  • POP3 mail download improvements
  • Improved support for RSS feeds
  • Meeting reliability improvements

Download via Microsoft Update, Office Update, or the Microsoft Download Center.  IMS v4 is fully compatible with the update.

New in V4: Alerts

One of the major new features in IMS v4 is Alerts.  Create an Alert by message conversation or contact to ensure that you never miss an important reply again.  I think of these as personal Service Level Agreements; if you have an important client or are involved in a very important email thread, set an Alert to ensure that you respond in a timely fashion.


There are two different types of unread message Alerts: 

  • Conversation Alerts are triggered by an unread message in the same email conversation (i.e. replies to the current email) 
  • Contact Alerts are triggered by an email from the same sender.

For example, if you select a 2 hour conversation alert, IMS will notify you if you receive a reply to the message and do not read it within the 2 hour grace period. 

There are two ways to create an Alert: 

  1. Highlight a message and press the Alert button on one of the IMS toolbars.  This will open the Alert create dialog where you can specify the type of Alert you are creating (Conversation or Contact) and the time period.  If you receive a message that meets the criterion you set and do not read it within the time frame specified, IMS will notify you via the Alert Management window. 
  2. Open a contact and press the Alert button on the contact toolbar.  As above this gives the option to create a Contact alert.  If an Alert already exists for this contact, IMS will cancel it.

Alerts Management 

The Alerts Management window appears when an Alert is triggered and can be opened via the ClearContext menu.  It consists of two tabs: 

  • Active Alerts – this shows all of the currently active Alerts for unread messages in your Inbox: 
    • Double click a notification or press the Open Item button to open a message and read it. 
    • The Dismiss Alert button will turn off the alert for the current message. 
    • The Cancel Alert button removes the Alert trigger for the current item, ensuring that no further alerts will be issued for this particular thread or contact.
  • Triggers – this tab shows all of the Alert triggers that you have set up.  Cancel Alert will remove the currently selected thread or contact alert.

Alerts are triggered regardless of the current Do Not Disturb status. 

New in v4: Toolbar Management

In IMS v4, at the request of many of our customers, we consolidated the inbox toolbars down from two to one:

Two toolbars in v3


Default toolbar in v4


This is customizable via ClearContext Preferences.  Access the toolbar management feature via ClearContext > Options > Preferences > Toolbar:


To add buttons to the toolbar, highlight the button name in the Available column and click Add.  To remove, click items in the Active column and click Remove.  Use the arrows below the Active field to change the order of the toolbar buttons.  Reset All will put the buttons back in their factory default positions.  You will need to restart Outlook for the changes to take effect.

Do you miss the second toolbar?

Add <START NEW TOOLBAR> to the active column to create a second toolbar.  Any items that appear in the active list below <START NEW TOOLBAR> will be placed on a second toolbar.  One caveat – the items marked "Drop Down Selector" must appear on the first toolbar.

Start Outlook with the Dashboard

In the Identify phase of the IMS Daily Workflow, we recommend that you start your day with the Dashboard, reviewing your Tasks and Appointments before moving into Inbox Management.

To take this a step further, you can set Outlook to automatically open the Dashboard on startup, helping you avoid the temptation of looking at your email before you’ve had a chance to identify the day’s priorities.  Go to Tools > Options > Advanced Options:


Click the Browse button and select the Inbox sub-folder, ClearContext IMS:


Select OK on this and the Options dialog.  Voila!  On startup Outlook will open up the Dashboard so that you can size up your day.