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Window Manager
Brian Livingston
Automate your e-mail messages and fix formatting problems in Outlook Express 5.0

THIS IS MY THIRD and final column on the top 10 secrets revealed in More Windows 98 Secrets (IDG Books Worldwide), co-authored by Davis Straub and myself. (For more information, see

The first three tricks listed here work in Windows NT, Windows 95, and Windows 98, if you have Internet Explorer 5 installed.

Automate repetitive e-mail messages. If you frequently send the same message to several people, this trick is for you.

Outlook Express (OE) 5, the e-mail client included with IE 5, lets you define handy shortcuts. You probably already use e-mail "groups" in sending to several recipients at once. But OE 5's shortcut feature allows you to also specify the subject and a short message body, which you can edit before sending.

Your shortcut can be as long as 457 characters. This doesn't allow for a very long message, but it should be enough to include several recipients, a subject, and the beginning or ending of a standardized message.

Step 1. Right-click an empty space on your Desktop. Click New, then click Shortcut.

Step 2. In the Command Line, type mailto: and the name of your first recipient. Separate additional recipients with a semicolon (;).

Step 3. To add more parameters, add a question mark (?) to the end of the recipients. Then type a parameter, followed by an equal sign (=) and the text. The parameters you can use are cc, bcc, subject, and body.

If you want to define a message to Tom, Dick, and Harry (with Harry and yourself receiving a blind carbon copy), your Command Line would look like the example below, all on one line. (I'm printing it on five separate lines to better show the format.)




&body=Hi guys!

Step 4. Click the Next button. Then type a name for your shortcut, such as "Mail to 3 Guys," and click Finish.

When you run the shortcut, a New Message window opens, without running OE.

Fix e-mail fonts. If you used a non-Roman character set, such as Greek, to send e-mail in Outlook Express 4.0, OE changed your fonts in succeeding messages as well. This is corrected in OE 5, but you may still need a trick to read your mail properly.

In OE 5, you can click View, Encoding, Auto Select to let OE select a character set on the basis of each message's header information. If you see weird characters anyway, click View, Encoding to see whether OE is using its "Western European (Windows)" character set. If so, try changing the selection to "Western European (ISO)," which may clear things up.

Reply to an HTML message. You may have set OE 5's Tools, Options, Send dialog box to include the text of a message when you reply to it. And you may have told OE to indent the original message, so as to distinguish it from your reply and to reply in the same format as the original message.

If so, this trick is for you. When you reply to a message that contains HTML formatting, a vertical line appears to the left of the indented material to which you are replying. If you type within this material (because you like to intersperse your reply with the comments your correspondent made), you'll see that OE incorrectly indents and adds a vertical line to the left of your words, as though they were a part of the original message.

To correct this, start a new line within the indented material. Then click the Paragraph Style button on OE 5's toolbar and click Normal. (The drop-down list shows the paragraph is already Normal.) This lets you type a reply that doesn't look like the original.

Reset printers after setup. If you have more than one printer defined in your system, the Windows 98 Setup program changes your spooler settings to "bidirectional" and "EMF" (enhanced metafile) format. If these aren't your preferred settings, you'll have to change them manually. Click Start, Settings, Printers. Right-click a printer icon, then click Properties, Details, Spool Settings.

Are these the best new secrets? You tell me.


Operating Systems

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