October 23, 2012

Product Watch

Law Practice Magazine

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October/November 2008 Issue | Volume 34 Number 7| Page 20

Product Watch

Simplify your life—we hear that advice time and again, but it’s usually easier said than done. Think about how you spend your time each day, including the ways in which technology has actually increased your stress levels rather than decreased them. Nowhere is this truer than with e-mail, which consumes much of every workday. But there is a product to help Microsoft Outlook users gain control.

Lawyers rely on Microsoft Outlook for their e-mail management, calendaring and contact management, and many would be lost without the program. Yet while each new version makes significant improvements over prior versions, Outlook still lacks tools to help users easily manage their messages.

 Consider how you typically move messages into the correct Outlook folders: by dragging them from your inbox into the correct folder; by using the Move to Folder command from the context menu; or by creating an Outlook rule to automatically move messages meeting certain requirements into the designated folder. The first two methods are time-consuming and require too much user intervention. And the last, while useful for messages tied to specific senders, topics or e-lists, is impractical for the majority of e-mail, which can’t be easily quantified or filtered by rules.

Enter SimplyFile by TechHit. I’ve been using SimplyFile for some time (along with its sister product EZDetach) and I’m impressed by its accuracy and its impact on working more efficiently with Outlook.

According to Alex Kovalchuk of TechHit, SimplyFile is designed to help professionals “take control of their Outlook inboxes by easily filing messages to the right folder, or turning them into Outlook Tasks and Appointments.” That sounds like a noble goal, but in reality, it has been very difficult for most of us to accomplish using Outlook alone. That’s where SimplyFile comes into play. It uses advanced algorithms to suggest where a message is to be filed and then allows you to file it with just one click.


How It Works

Upon installation, SimplyFile places a toolbar in Outlook that consists of a window designating the top predicted folder for filing the message, with these six buttons on the right (see page 21):

File Message, to actually file the message in a predicted folder.

Undo File, for those times when you change your mind or are just too quick to click on File Message.

QuickPick, which allows you to quickly select a different folder if the predicted folder is incorrect or you want to save to a different folder.

Task It, for creating an Outlook Task from an e-mail with one click.

Schedule It, for creating an Outlook Appointment with one click.

The SimplyFile button, which provides access to SimplyFile Options and other features, such as Html2Text (i.e., converting HTML messages into plain text). This button also forces training when you add new folders. SimplyFile then analyzes your Outlook folders to create the information needed to predict where messages should be filed.

After initial analysis, I’ve been amazed at the level of accuracy in the folder predictions SimplyFile makes. According to Kovalchuk, “Most users report 90 to 95 percent accuracy of the top suggested folder.” My usage comes very close to matching that 90 percent claim. I also find myself spending less time dealing with e-mail messages since I can preview them in the Outlook Reading pane and then simply click on the File Message button to place messages in their correct folders instead of having to drag and drop each one. Because I normally have to scroll down through all the folders that I have in Outlook to stay organized, this is a big time-saver considering the amount of e-mail I deal with daily. While I can’t speak to the exact amount of time I save each day or week, it sure seems like I’m spending less time moving messages and more time reading them than before using SimplyFile.

I also find myself using the Task It and Schedule It buttons more regularly to help keep e-mails from accumulating in my inbox, which means I’m actually making better use of the tools that Outlook gives me. With the message selected, just one click on the Task It or Schedule It button makes the appropriate Outlook record open and—with no keystrokes or drag and drop—you’re creating records to help you stay organized in the way Outlook is meant to work.

So, the price for all of this? Stand-alone, SimplyFile can be purchased for $39.95, with multiuser discounts available. Or you can get it bundled with TechHit’s other Outlook utility programs, EZDetach and Message Save, for $99.95 at current pricing.

About the Author

Nerino J. Petro, Jr. , is a legal technologist and the Practice Management Advisor for the State Bar of Wisconsin. A former practicing attorney, he blogs on legal technology and practice management issues at www.compujurist.com.