Posts from December 2007.

New in V4: IMS Dashboard

The Office Letter review of IMS v4 had this to say about the new v4 IMS Dashboard:

"The new Dashboard feature puts all messages, appointments, notices, and tasks on a single screen — right at your fingertips. It’s similar to the To-Do bar Microsoft introduced in Outlook 2007, except that it’s more attractive, easier to read, and lets you display all items or just those you want to see using a topic and/or category filter."

I see the Dashboard as the control panel for my workday, allowing me to view all messages, appointments, tasks and deferred messages by Topic and category.  Open the Dashboard by pressing the IMS Dashboard button on the main toolbar.  To close it, click on another folder, such as the Inbox, or another area in Outlook, such as the Calendar.


Select a Topic or Category in the title bar of the dashboard to filter your To Do’s.  The Topic Selector Topic Selector button allows you to search on Topics and the Show Sub-Topics Show Sub-Topics button instructs the Dashboard to include items from sub-folders of the currently selected Topic.

There are four components of the Dashboard:

  • Messages -This pane shows different messages depending on whether a filter is applied or not.  If no Topic or category is applied, Messages shows flagged Inbox messages.  Once a filter is applied, Messages shows all Inbox and filed messages for the current filter.  Toggle the display of filed messages off/on via the Hide Filed link at the bottom of the pane. 
  • Appointments – This shows all active appointments on your calendar.  By default, today’s appointments are shown in blue.  Recurring appointments show only the first instance in the appointment series. 
  • Tasks and Actions – This is the place to manage all of your tasks and deferred messages.  Change the way tasks are color-coded using the Color Options link.  This will also change the color-coding for today’s appointments.  Toggle the display of completed items via the Show Completed link at the bottom right corner of this pane.  Click the checkbox next to an item to mark it complete. 
  • Status – This is a quick status of your To Do’s for the current filter.

When a filter is applied, the New Task and New Appointment buttons at the bottom of the Dashboard starts new items with the current Topic or category pre-assigned.  The Refresh button refreshes all data on the dashboard.

The Dashboard will most definitely evolve as we enhance the product.  Future iterations will pull in additional information and provide additional interactivity.  Watch the weblog for future detail.

OfficeLetter Review

The Office Letter, an excellent resource for tips and tricks on Microsoft Office, posted a review of IMS v4 to their latest newsletter:

"The company’s Web site claims you can save up to an hour a day by working more efficiently with ClearContext prioritizing your inbox messages and unifying your view of messages, tasks, and appointments. That’s probably a safe bet, given the flexibility and organizational features that ClearContext adds to Outlook to help you make better use of your Inbox — letting you manage your Inbox, not being swamped by it."

You can read the current issue of the newsletter here.

Inbox Alert Vista Gadget Updated

We have posted an update to our Vista Gadget, ClearContext Inbox Alert.  It’s available for download from our site and should be up on the Microsoft Live Gadget Gallery sometime next week.

This update provides greater connection stability and enhances the preview pane to support Outlook 2002 and 2003 customers as well as 2007 users who aren’t running an anti-virus program.

While we’re on the subject of Outlook gadgets, the Microsoft Office Outlook team blog has details on their Outlook 2007 Appointments and Tasks gadgets, both excellent additions to your sidebar.  Check it out.

ClearContext Contact Exporter for Outlook (Beta)

ClearContext Contact Exporter

Web Worker Daily just posted about the latest release from ClearContext. Read below for more detail.

The Contact Exporter is a beta feature in ClearContext IMS v4 that lets you create and export groups of email addresses found in messages stored in the Outlook folders you select.

Select the email addresses from a prioritized list of contacts generated for you to create an Outlook distribution list, Outlook contact records, or a CSV export file.  

  • Send a group email to people on your team – Select your work or team folder and create an Outlook distribution list. 
  • Create a holiday party invitation for your friends – Select your personal correspondence folders and generate a list that you can send an email to or export to an online invitation service. 
  • Add all your business contacts to LinkedIn or your personal contacts to Facebook – Select the appropriate folders and create an export file you can upload.

Here’s a quick guide to using the Contact Exporter:

Download the latest version of IMS v4 here.  If you’re not already a ClearContext user, see our getting started page to learn more about the product.  (Note: The Contact Exporter download is in a 30-day trial of ClearContext IMS, but the Contact Exporter will remain functional after the trial period is over.)

Once you’ve installed ClearContext IMS v4.0.3 or higher:  

  1. Open Outlook and go to ClearContext > Contact Exporter from the main menu. 
  2. Select the folders containing emails you want to export contact information from.
  3. The contacts found in those folders are divided into a list divided into three groups:  More Relevant, Relevant, and Less Relevant.  Use the selection links to select/deselect groups of those contacts or the checkboxes to individually select/deselect the contacts you want to export.
  4. Check the export formats you would like for the email addresses and enter names for the files – Outlook distribution list, Outlook contact records, or CSV file.  

Once you’ve created the list, you can import these contacts into any services that accept CSV files.  Here are import links for a few popular sites (log into the sites before clicking the links below):  

Facebook (click Email Application and scroll down to Contact File)

It’s as simple as that!

Please post your suggestions/feedback/questions in our User Forums.

IMS v4.0.3 Available

We have released v4.0.3, as referenced in our updated product plan.  Changes in this release include: 

  • Improved handling of recurring appointments in the Dashboard and ActionView
  • Enhanced installation to accommodate some of the quirky Vista setup problems we have been seeing    
  • Tweaked appointments display in the Dashboard to include Day of Week    
  • A few additional minor fit/finish enhancements

Download here

Also, as part of this release, we have included a beta of the ClearContext Contact Exporter, one of the prototype projects we mentioned in our product plan.  I’m going to talk about that one in more detail in the next post…

For Newbies: Getting Started with IMS v4

We pulled together a Getting Started page for folks who are trying out the app for the first time.  If interested, here’s what we posted. Feedback is always welcome.

In just a few minutes, this will illustrate the core concepts of the IMS solution, allowing you to quickly move through your inbox and focus on working on projects.  For additional tips on best use of the product, see our Solutions Pages:

Prioritized Inbox

After install, the first time you open Outlook, IMS will analyze your email history to rank your email contacts.  Using this and other information about your email patterns, IMS will prioritize your inbox.

The setup process normally only takes a few minutes, but will take longer for large email files and inboxes.


IMS View Wizard

Once setup is complete, the inbox messages will be color-coded to highlight the most important messages.  You can select alternate custom inbox views from the ClearContext->Inbox Views menu, or at any time revert to standard Outlook views.


A Topic will be created for each folder under your inbox.  Use the Topic button or dropdown to assign topics to email.  All messages in that email conversation will be assigned that Topic. 


Convert Email to TasksCreate Appointments from Messages
Use the Task and Schedule buttons to create a task and appointment linked to your email message. 

File Message
Click File Msg to file the email directly into a Topic folder. 

Defer messages until later
Use the Defer function to move messages out of your Inbox for a specified time period. 

Use these message management functions on a number of emails in your inbox to act on your email quickly and efficiently.


IMS Dashboard

Open the Dashboard.  The initial screen will show pending tasks and appointments, as well as flagged messages in the inbox.  Select a Topic you used earlier via the dropdown or Topic button in the Dashboard.   Now, all messages, tasks and appointments with that Topic will be displayed in a consolidated project view.


Alerts, Do Not Disturb, Unsubscribe, Follow-Up, Delegate and AutoAssign are just a few of the other features within ClearContext that can be accessed in the Inbox from the ClearContext menu for a more complete evaluation of the product.

See our tutorials for demonstrations of these features.

IMS Daily Workflow: Succeed by focusing on your core work

SucceedThe Succeed step of the IMS Daily Workflow is the ultimate goal of the process.  You’ve identified your priorities for the day and have managed your Inbox.  Now, throughout the day, succeed by focusing on your work rather than your email: 

Do Not Disturb 

Turn off new mail notifications via Do Not Disturb so that you can work on your tasks without interruption. 

IMS Dashboard 

Open the IMS Dashboard and select a project to work on via the Topic drop down.  Work on your most important tasks for the project. 

Prioritized Views 

To stay on top of email throughout the day, sort your Inbox by priority (ClearContext > Inbox Views) and review only your highest priority messages (in red and blue) as needed. 


Use the RelatedView to see emails, appointments and other related tasks to get the full context for the item you are working on.

One note on the Prioritized step above – if you look at a message during this phase, make sure that you act on any message you open just as you would in the manage phase.  You should strive to only touch an Inbox message once. 

By completing the Identify and Manage steps previously, you are free to focus on the work that is most important to you while staying in control of your email. 

As mentioned in my initial IMS post, this process is distilled down from a wealth of best practices developed over the course of several years.  If you have not done so already, subscribe to this blog to receive future tips on best use of IMS to maximize your personal productivity.

TWC Outlook Productivity Newsletter

Michael Linenberger, author of best-selling Microsoft Outlook book Total Workday Control and ClearContext partner, publishes a newsletter chock full of Outlook tips and ways to leverage the TWC system.  In the latest he talks about IMS v4 and how it works with TWC.  If interested, you can sign up to receive the newsletter at the link at the bottom of the page.