Simplified Outlook Mail Merge


 
Last week while reading Quora, I came across an interesting Outlook question from Siddharth Sreenivas. His question was, “Are there any free applications that let you mail merge with unique attachments on each mail?”. There are a number of third party mail merge tools, some of which (e.g. MAPILab’s Mail Merge Toolkit) do add this capability. But, none of the ones I know of are free. That’s not to say that they’re expensive, a single user license of the MAPILab product is just $24, but I don’t know of any that are free. My job doesn’t call for me to use Outlook’s mail merge very often, I probably haven’t done one in 5-6 years, but I remember that the process seemed a little complicated and thinking that there ought to be a simpler approach. Another disadvantage of Outlook’s built-in mail merge is that you can’t save and reuse it. That would be really handy if you need to do the same merge periodically. Writing a mail merge script sounded like an interesting challenge, so I responded to Siddharth and offered to help him out.

The solution I’ve put together solves the problems I mentioned above. It’s simple, flexible, and enables you to reuse a merge. Since it’s a scripted solution, it’s also extensible. The solution is made up of four components.
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View An Item’s Image Attachments All At Once


This morning I stumbled across an interesting Outlook question on Quora from a user named Sulong Xu. Sulong Xu asks

How can I view multiple pictures attachments at once in Outlook? Other than one by one, because I want to compare the pictures.

Outlook does not have a built-in means of doing this. It only allows you to view attachments individually. What we need is a solution that presents thumbnail images of all the graphic files attached to a message, something like a digital equivalent to a photographer’s contact sheet. This would allow Sulong Xu to view all the attached images at once. Unlike a contact sheet, the solution would also allow Sulong Xu to click a thumbnail to view the full-sized image. Now, how could we add this capability to Outlook?
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Finding an Outlook Folder


This last Friday I responded to a question on Quora asking if it is possible to export a list of Outlook folders/subfolders. The author goes on to explain that she misplaced a folder and doesn’t want to have to manually look through all her folders to find it. Here’s how I responded

Outlook does not have a built-in capability to export a list of folders/subfolders. There’s no need to though. Search for something you know is in that the missing folder.

As fellow MVP Ben Schorr points out in a comment to my response, my answer is wrong. I don’t know what I was thinking of when I replied. Searching for an item the author knows is in the folder won’t help. Search result do show the name of the folder each matching item is in, but it doesn’t take you to the folder or show you where that folder is located. Clearly it would be handy to have that capability. Time to write some code.
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