Posts from September 2008.

Roll Your Own Notification Managers

Notification ManagersIn the latest release we implemented notification managers – a tool for handling emails that regularly clog up your Inbox.  You know the ones – notifications from online services, automated log and email alerts from IT applications, receipts and status from e-commerce sites, etc..  Notification Managers are designed to get these out of the Inbox and categorize them in a way that makes it easy to review when you’re ready.

We ship with two Notification Managers by default – one for LinkedIn and one for Facebook.  Enable these by clicking on them in the Notifications tab of FolderContext.  You can also create your own Notification Manager and share it with friends and colleagues.  Here are step by step instructions for doing that:

  1. Open the Notifications tab in FolderContext.
  2. Select Actions > Create New Notification Manager.
  3. Select a folder that you will move these messages to – this can be an existing folder or a new folder – and click OK.
  4. The selected folder will be opened and the Notification Manager builder will appear.
  5. Give your Notification Manager a name. This is the name that will appear in the Notifications Summary.
  6. Click Add Rule to add a condition that will cause messages to be moved into this folder. For example, create a rule to move all messages from domain to this folder. Please note that you can only add one rule for moving messages into this folder.
  7. If you would like, click Add Icon to add a 16×16 icon to display for this Dashboard.
  8. Click Add Category. This is how you will identify and track various classes of messages that are moved into this folder.
  9. Give the Category a Display name and a Category Name. The latter is an Outlook category that is assigned to incoming messages that meet the criteria you set.
  10. Add rules(s) that will cause this category to be assigned to an incoming message in this folder. Extending the example above, create a subject rule that assigns category Friend Request to all messages from that arrive with the word friend in the subject. Please note that an OR condition is applied when multiple rules are entered – if an email arrives that meets any one of the rules you have set, the category will be assigned.
  11. Add a link to this category by clicking the Add Link button. This link will appear in the category’s action menu. For example, you might add a direct link to your Facebook friends approval page here.
  12. Change the appearance of this tab or add a 16×16 icon as desired.
  13. Repeat steps 8 through 12 to add as many categories as you would like.
  14. When you have completed building the dashboard, press Save and restart Outlook.

Once the dashboard is complete and Outlook has been restarted, incoming messages that meet the criteria you set up will be automatically moved into your dashboard topic folder:

  • When you click on the folder, your categories will appear as tabs across the top of the preview pane along with counts of unread messages that appear in the folder for each category.
  • Click on each category tab to mark items read, filter the folder to show messages from that category only, or open a link that you have set up for the category.
  • Click Show Read Items to show counts of all items by category rather than unread.
  • Select Options > Edit This Notification Manager to change the parameters you have set.
  • Select Options > Jump to Project Dashboard to open a Dashboard tab for this Topic.
  • Select Options > Send this Notification Manager to share with friends and colleagues.

We envision that you will come up with many creative ways to use the functionality. Please tell us how you use the Notification Managers and give us feedback on how you would like to see the functionality grow.

How I Use FolderContext

FolderViewAt the risk of hurting my arm while patting my own back, I have to say that FolderContext has become an indispensable component of my working environment.  Here are some examples of how I use it:

Contact List Creation    
We asked potential beta testers to send an email to a beta account. Using AutoAssign, I pushed all of these requests into a beta Topic folder. When the time came to contact the group, creating a distribution list was insanely simple:

  1. Open the beta folder in Outlook.
  2. Click the Contact tab in FolderContext.
  3. Highlight all contacts in the list.
  4. Select Actions > Create Distribution List.

Voila! I now have a beta distribution list for future correspondence with the beta group.

We anticipate that, much like the Contact Exporter, individuals will find this feature to be a great way to communicate with your project team, invites friends to an event, and upload contacts to various social networking sites.

Attachments by Topic    
We recently released a TWC powered build of IMS. One new feature in the release is customized TWC tutorial emails. Several iterations of these emails were sent back and forth as Word Documents. When it was time to convert the Word documents to tutorial emails, I was able to quickly find the latest version of each document:

  1. Click on my TWC Topic folder.
  2. Click on the Attachments tab of the FolderContext.
  3. Highlight the attachments I wanted.
  4. Select Actions > Save Attachments.

This automatically saved the most recent version of the attachments from email onto my hard drive.

Easy, right?

Increase the Accuracy of Topic Suggestions

One of the new features in the latest ClearContext release is the implementation of suggested Topics.  ClearContext analyzes your email patterns and suggests Topics based the message sender.  Change the number of suggestions made via ClearContext > Options > Preferences > Topic Options.

If upgrading from a previous version of ClearContext, go to ClearContext > Options > Analyze Contacts and re-scan your email history. This will help ClearContext give accurate Topic suggestions when filing.

Introducing ClearContext Personal and Professional

We are pleased to announce the release of ClearContext Personal and ClearContext Professional.  This release includes a number of our most requested features and makes organizing email and projects easier than ever.  Please upgrade soon, we’re confident you’ll find this release a huge step forward for ClearContext. (Please note that this is a complimentary upgrade for all of our registered IMS v4 customers).

We also would love your help in spreading the word.  In addition to the powerful new capabilities in Pro, with ClearContext Personal we now have a completely free solution for people who simply want to keep their inbox more organized and file their messages faster – please let your friends know about which product you think is right for them!  Thanks!

Pro ClearContext Personal

Personal is a free Microsoft Outlook add-in for to organize your email and make your inbox useful again.  See our brief video for an introduction:

New Personal features include:

Suggested Topics

ClearContext automatically suggests the right folders to instantly file messages.



Attachment Explorer

Browse attachments in Outlook just like you view files in Windows.


View all the contacts and attachments contained in each folder.

Pro ClearContext Professional

Pro includes all of the features of Personal plus the ability to organize and manage projects within Outlook.  This is a complimentary upgrade for all of our registered IMS v4 customersHere’s a 1.5 minute demo:

New Pro features include:

Tabbed Project Dashboard

Tabbed Dashboard

Open each of your projects in tabs so that you can refer to them throughout the day.


Attachments and Contacts by Topic

ClearContext displays all contacts and attachments associated with the current project.


Download Pro here.  If you are using Personal and would like to try pro, select ClearContext > Try ClearContext Professional within Outlook.


Thanks to everyone who helped beta test this release.  It’s really rewarding to have such a passionate group of users willing to give feedback on pre-release products. 

Take the ClearContext Usage Survey

As we near completion of our latest release, we are mapping out the future of the product.  Please take a moment to complete this brief, 10 question survey about the features you use most and the future features you would most like to see.  Our product development is driven by customer feedback – your answers will have a direct impact on the future of ClearContext.


We opened the survey last week to registered users and the data so far has been extremely valuable.  We were pleased to find that many of the feature suggestions will be addressed in the next release of ClearContext Professional


For example:Dashboard Tabbed UI




“I hope to see [the Dashboard] improved with future releases.”



In the next release, the redesigned Dashboard will provide a tabbed interface for quickly accessing multiple projects and better interactivity throughout.




“still too many keystrokes to assign topics. Not enough intelligence in figuring out what the topic should be.”



ClearContext Professional suggests Topic assignments based on email history and we have streamlined the assignment of Topics throughout the application.




“…sometimes I start to type an existing topic name (to eventually assign the message to it) and mistype the name, click file too quickly, and a new folder is created.  …If it prompted before creating a new folder, I could make is less painful during my mistakes!”



ClearContext Professional does exactly this – we prompt before creating a new folder.




“I don’t need a Clear Context Topics folder, why does it not work off my inbox?”



With the release of v2, the Inbox can be used as the root for Topic filing.  Details on changing this setting are available here.  The release of ClearContext Professional will support using the root of your mail file for filing, effectively making all of your mail folders Topic folders.




Some other questions that came out of the survey are below:



“I would like to be able to flag 3 of these topics as my high priority topics and have a view where I can see what topics are my highs, mediums and lows.”


Use a folder/sub-folder arrangement for prioritizing your Topics, placing your most important Topics as a sub-Topic of “1 – Very High”.  Then use the View Sub-Folders feature in the Dashboard to view all of your Very High Topics.  For more detail, see our Topic Management Tips.


“Topic assignment had a bug, when using with Exchange server, then any assigned sent e-mails are not assigned but end up in SYNC ISSUES and appear to be lost”



Quirky Exchange issues like this one are always the result of a corrupt mail file.  Follow step #3 here to repair.




“The current Beta is not working well with XOBNI…”



The Xobni team is working on a fix for this.  Follow this post for updates.




Thanks to everyone who has taken the survey so far.  If you haven’t given your feedback yet, please go there now.  Leave your email address in a comments field if you’d like a response.