Posts categorized “maintenance”.

Archiving Topics

Removing a Topic from the IMS Topic list is as easy as dragging and dropping a folder.  IMS populates the Topic list by reading all sub-folders of the Inbox (or whatever you have defined as your ClearContext Topic Folder).  To remove a Topic from the list, click the associated folder in the Inbox and drag it to another folder outside of the Inbox.

Renaming Topics

If you decide to rename your Topic folders (perhaps because you want to take advantage of multi-level Topics), follow the process below to ensure that IMS performs correct Topic assignments in the future:

  1. Go to ClearContext > Options > Preferences.  Ensure that Assign message thread to Topic is enabled on both sections of "When I move a message to a Topic folder."
  2. Create a new Topic folder with the new Topic name.
  3. Drag the contents of the old Topic folder into the new Topic.  This last step will ensure that IMS updates all active conversation threads with the new Topic.  (FYI – CTRL-A will highlight all messages in a folder). 
  4. Finally, if any items remain in the Inbox with the old Topic assignment, highlight and re-assign using the Topic drop down.

IMS Multi-Level Topics

Did you know that you can create a Topic/Sub-Topic designation that maps to Folder/Sub-Folder?  To create multi-level topics, enter topic names separated by a "/". For example, filing to Topic "Work/Project" would store the message in the "Project" sub-folder underneath the "Work" main folder.  This comes in handy when using the Dashboard’s Show Sub-Topics Show Sub-Topics feature.

Maintenance: Scoring Adjustment

IMS analyzes incoming messages on several key characteristics to prioritize email; including directness of the email, conversation participation and contact priority.  To improve scoring accuracy, tweak the weighting that IMS gives to each of these messages characteristics via ClearContext > Options > Scoring Options.

Automated Prioritization of Incoming Email

For example, if you work in sales and receive a great deal of important email from new contacts who are not in your address book, you might want to adjust the Known Addresses weighting down and the Thread Participation weighting up to ensure that email conversations started by you and/or that you have participated in receive a higher score (and therefore higher prominence in your inbox).

For more detail on adjusting scoring and what message characteristics impact each factor, see our User Guide.

Get in the Habit of Assigning Topics

Topic assignment is key to getting the most out of IMS.  By assigning Topics to email threads, you ensure that:

In addition, by segmenting messages, tasks and appointments by Topic, you can utilize the full potential of the Dashboard and focus on your work by project.

IMS provides several ways to help you assign Topics:

Sent Message Categorization


Go to ClearContext > Options > Preferences > Topic Options.  Enable "Ask about selecting a Topic if one is not assigned."  When you compose a message, IMS will check to see if the current conversation has a Topic assigned to it.  If not, you will be queried to assign one.  This will ensure that future replies to this message will come in pre-assigned with your Topic.  Also, if you check "Save messages to Topic Folder" IMS will move the Sent message to the correct Topic folder; keeping both sides of the conversation in the same location.

Task and Appointment Topic Query on Save


Much like Sent Message Categorization, there is a similar Topic Query function available for tasks and appointments.  Go to ClearContext > Options > Preferences > Tasks/Appts and check "Ask about selecting a Topic if one is not assigned" for both Tasks and Appointments.  IMS will query you for a Topic assignment as you save these items; enabling you to view them by Topic when using the Dashboard.


As discussed earlier, AutoAssign allows you to quickly create simple rules to automatically assign Topics to incoming messages.  This is a huge time-saver; a good set of AutoAssign rules in conjunction with IMS’s automatic assignment of Topics to conversation messages ensures that many of your messages will arrive in the Inbox pre-categorized.  For more detail on AutoAssign, see our User Guide.

IMS Maintenance: Re-Analyze Contacts

image On setup, IMS analyzes your email history to extract contacts that aren’t in your address book and rank all of your contacts by email volume.  (For more detail on our patent pending prioritization process, see ClearContext Design: Contact Analysis and Maintenance).

Over time, email usage patterns change and automatic contact priorities can become stale.  I suggest you re-run Contact Analysis every six months or so to ensure prioritization accuracy.  This process will refresh all contact priorities automatically set by IMS without adjusting any contact priorities that you have manually set via the contact record.  To re-run the process, go to ClearContext > Options > Analyze Contacts.

For more information on contact prioritization, see our User Guide.

IMS Maintenance: Improving Message Prioritization Accuracy

image IMS changes priorities based on whether an email is addressed to you or someone else.  Do you receive messages forwarded from an email alias, such as an alternative company address or school alumni email address?  If IMS doesn’t recognize the address that an email has been sent to, it won’t prioritize the message appropriately.  Go to ClearContext > Options > Identity and add these addresses under Additional Email Aliases to ensure that IMS knows who you are.  You can also add the domains of your company and customers to the Organization Domains section of this dialog to improve prioritization accuracy.

For more detail on contact prioritization, see our User Guide.

IMS Maintenance: AutoAssign

There are a number of IMS functions that will help you streamline and/or automate the IMS Daily Workflow.  Though not a part of your daily work in Outlook, these tasks – creating AutoAssign Rules, adjusting Contact Priorities, managing Alerts, etc. – can significantly increase your daily productivity.  I’ll be writing about these on the blog as part of the Maintenance phase of the IMS process.

AutoAssign is a simple rules engine that allows you to assign Topics or Priorities to incoming messages based on several characteristics including sender, sender’s domain, keywords, etc..  Optionally, you can instruct AutoAssign to automatically file messages to Topic folders as well.

There are several classifications of email that are perfect for automatic Topic assignment:

  • Important Customers – Set up an AutoAssign rule to search for an important client’s domain (i.e. and assign a High Priority to all incoming messages.
  • Status Updates – Automatically assign Topics to regular emails like status reports, automated updates, etc. using a subject keyword AutoAssign rule.
  • Newsletters and Mailing Lists – Automatically file newsletters and mailing lists out of the Inbox and into Topic folders for review at your leisure.

Creating an AutoAssign rule is easy:

  1. In the Inbox, get focus on a message that you want AutoAssign to manage in the future.
  2. Select ClearContext > Create AutoAssign Rule from Message:
  3. Select the parameters you want IMS to look for when new mail arrives.  In the example above, all messages from info at clearcontext dot com with the phrase "Weekly Status Report" in the title will be assigned a Topic of Status and a Low Priority.
  4. Give the rule a name and select OK.  All future messages that meet your criteria will be assigned a Topic.

Making this little bit of effort to create AutoAssign rules will save you time and mental energy later as you try to keep your Inbox organized on a daily basis.

For more information on AutoAssign, including information on managing AutoAssign rules, see the IMS User Guide.