Picture this: you’ve gotten a Microsoft Outlook email from opposing counsel, and before you reply, you need to look through your file and double check his or her “facts.” You don’t want to print it and make notes all over it, because that just adds to the paper on your desk, and you’re really trying to go paperless. So how do you make electronic notes on an email?
Unless otherwise noted below, all instructions and screenshots are for Microsoft Outlook 2010 for Windows.
Price and features
Regularly priced at $39.95 (see special offer below), Email Notes extends the functionality of Microsoft Outlook by allowing you to add a virtual “sticky note” to any email or (in Microsoft Outlook version 2010) to any email conversation. The software is available for download as a 30-day free trial, which gives a prospective user a no-features-disabled opportunity to try it out, as I did for this review of Email Notes version 2.04548.
The software (obviously) requires installation of Microsoft Outlook (versions 2000, 2002/XP, 2003, 2007 and 2010 are supported) and is compatible with all versions of Microsoft Windows from Windows 95 through Windows 7. And, as I found out during the installation process, it also requires Microsoft .NET Framework version 4 to run. Conveniently, if you don’t have this latest version of the Microsoft .NET Framework, the Email Notes installation interface will prompt you to install it.
Obviously, you can’t have Microsoft Outlook running while you install this add-in (and you really shouldn’t have any applications running while you install software anyway).
When the developer of Email Notes says you’ll be adding your first note to an email within 30 seconds, he’s not kidding. I found the interface to be incredibly simple. After the software was installed, I immediately noticed an Email Notes pane on the right:
All I did to start the note you see above was click into that yellow pane and start typing. Text can be boldfaced, italicized, etc. by selecting the text with your mouse and right clicking to get the following contextual menu:
Don’t like yellow? You can change that, too. Simply choose Note Color on that menu, and pick another:
Once you’ve finish your note, you can click the Date/Time button at the top to embed the current date and time, print the note by clicking the Printer button, and save the note by clicking the Save button on the left.
Upon installation, Email Notes puts a Search Notes button in a separate button group on the Home tab (Outlook 2010) as well as adding its own tab with more buttons:
The Microsoft Outlook version 2007 buttons look like this:
And if you don’t want to see the Email Notes pane on the right side, you can either click the small right-facing arrow up top to hide it, or you can right-click within any note and choose Settings to get this dialog box to change the setting from task pane to button:
One warning: changing the setting permanently (rather than hiding the pane) will require a restart of Outlook, so don’t do this while you’re in the middle of any other Outlook-related tasks.
At first, I couldn’t tell which emails I had added notes to, so I manually added that column to my View. I later saw a command on the Standss Outlook Addins tab that would do that for me:
Now, my View has an Email Notes column which has “Yes” next to any email with a note attached.
Overall, the software does exactly what it says it will do: it makes it easy to add an electronic note to any Microsoft Outlook email. Notes can be formatted virtually any way you like and printed out in case you need a paper copy.
And for those of you who are worried these electronic notes might somehow get emailed to someone who doesn’t need to see them, relax. If you hit the standard Microsoft Outlook Reply or Reply All buttons, the notes are not embedded in the email. However, if you do want to send a copy of these notes (say, to your client), a separate set of reply buttons (called “Respond”) is available. Any notes attached to an email using this special set of Respond buttons will be attached as a plain text file (which will obviously strip out any special formatting you might have embedded). You’ll also get a visual warning before you send the email with a note attached, as an extra level of security.
The add-in didn’t seem to slow down my computer or my Outlook installation, and in my brief test I did not notice any Microsoft Outlook features that were disabled in any way.
One glitch: I did not seem to be able to add more than one note to an email or (since I have Conversations enabled in Outlook) separate notes to distinct emails within a Conversation. When I attempted to access the newer note I added to a separate email within that same Conversation, the only note that appeared was the first note. Turning off Conversation View did not seem to help.
Who should buy this?
This add-in is perfect for any Microsoft Outlook user who needs to be able to add information to an email but doesn’t want to drag emails to the Tasks folder and add notes there. Although that technique works for me, adding a virtual “sticky note” to an email is more straightforward.
Standss is offering special launch pricing on Email Notes through June 29, 2012. Click here to take advantage of the sale!
Reviewed by Deborah Savadra on June 28, 2012.
Summary: Email Notes for Microsoft Outlook lets users attach a virtual “sticky note” to emails. Notes can be formatted, printed, and emailed easily.
- Price and features: 4
- User interface: 5
- Performance: 4
Overall score: 4.6 (out of 5)