Email Management

Have you ever missed an email from an important person (e.g. your Boss or Best Client?)

Face it. We’re all inundated with email. Somewhere, amidst the Amazon offers, Dominos/Pizza Hut email, Alumni pleas, Event Invitations…and so on, and so on…are actually some “real” emails that require your attention! There are a bunch of ways to deal with moving unimportant emails ‘out of the way’ to review later (setup “rules”, people!), but I just found out about a way to HIGHLIGHT those emails that you really CARE about!

How would you like it if emails from your Boss, your Best Client, or your Mother, automatically came into your Inbox


Imagine my glee when I found out that this is actually a choice in Microsoft Office. I’ve used Outlook for YEARS and never knew!

Thank you to Windows Central (and author Al Socco), for this fabulous article (love the step-by-step images – presented just like I try to present technical ‘how to’s’). If you want to try to manage your email using color, please check it out:

Color Code Incoming Email Messages by Sender

To ‘Unsubscribe’ or ‘Not Unsubscribe’, that is the question…

(With all due respect to Shakespeare and Hamlet)

We all get Spam. Its probably safe to say that we all get wayyyyyyyyyyy too much Spam. Spam, by definition, is e-mail that you do not choose or want to receive. It is junk.

On the other hand, there are newsletters and such that you really DO want to receive. So, how do you know when you can ‘make it go away’ and when you shouldn’t because it will just get you MORE junk in your inbox? When should you click ‘unsubscribe’? What are the ramifications if you do?

Normally, I don’t say ‘why’ I write particular posts…I just write them. Sometimes I am asked to write on a subject by a reader. Sometimes I get asked a question so many times that I figure it would make a good blog post. Sometimes an event in life causes me to write on a given subject…and so it is with this topic. Many of my ‘life’ blog posts have had their origins with my Uncle. This is another one of those posts!

Here’s the story…

December 31st of last year, I sent out a mail blast (using the free email service, MailChimp) to my entire email list. It wasn’t a newsletter, but rather a note that the name of my company was changing on January 1, 2012. Accordingly, rather than ‘SLC Consulting’, I wanted people to start using ‘Your Tech Tamer’ and to update their email addresses, etc. What better way to communicate important information to a wide-range of people? So far, so good. Off goes my e-mail. The next morning, I get an unsubscribe notice from, you guessed it, MY UNCLE!!!! What on earth?!?! Talk about dejected…if your own flesh-and-blood doesn’t want to read what you have to write, then why bother, right?

Fast-forward about five days. I’m visiting with him and he sheepishly tells me that he accidentally hit ‘unsubscribe’ when he was scrolling down the page and was there a way to ‘resubscribe’ because OBVIOUSLY, he didn’t want to unsubscribe from something that I had sent. Whew!!! He still loves me!!! While we laughed about the incident (and I showed him how to resubscribe), he was surprised to find out that I ALREADY KNEW that he had unsubscribed. How could that be?

So, to get to the ‘meat’ of this post, here are a few things to think about and know BEFORE you hit the ‘Unsubscribe’ button:

1. Only hit the ‘Unsubscribe’ button (or the ‘If you no longer wish to receive these emails…’ type of links) if the e-mail comes from a reputable e-mail blast service. ConstantContact, MailChimp, SendBlaster, iContact, etc. are all ‘reputable’ email services. You’ll know that an e-mail blast came from those services because you’ll see their ‘bug’ (logo) in the footer of the e-mails. The ‘bug’ identifies the e-mails as having been sent through these services. Clicking ‘Unsubscribe’ on an e-mail sent by one of these services will truly ‘unsubscribe’ you, and the owner of the e-mail list will NOT be able to resubscribe you…only you will be able to resubscribe yourself.

2. **BEWARE**: The owners of the email list (me, in the example above) RECEIVE A NOTIFICATION that someone has unsubscribed and their name/e-mail address. In other words, if you unsubscribe from your best friend’s list, he/she WILL KNOW!! If you really don’t want to receive that mail, it might be preferable to mark it as ‘spam’ or ‘junk’ in your email service…your friend won’t know if you do that, so there will be no hard feelings.

3. If the email does not show an email ‘blast’ service in the footer, but appears to come from a company that you know, then double-check the ‘from’ address (the sender’s email address) – not the name that displays, but rather the actual e-mail address from which the e-mail was sent. If you recognize it as being legitimate (e.g., then hitting ‘unsubscribe’ is probably safe to do. Here’s an example of a legitimate e-mail address from which it would be ‘safe’ to hit the ‘unsubscribe’ button:

4. If the email has a sender’s name that your recognize, but the actual ‘from’ e-mail address is ‘odd’, then DO NOT hit ‘unsubscribe’ or otherwise ask to be removed from the e-mail list. If you hit this link, you will likely get EVEN MORE unwanted emails because you have only verified to spammers that your e-mail address is a ‘live’ one!

Bottom line: The rules are pretty simple.

If the e-mail comes from a legitimate e-mail blast service, it’s safe to unsubscribe, but the owner of the list will know that you unsubscribed, so decide if it’s better to send the e-mail to the junk bin, rather than unsubscribing and potentially hurting someone’s feelings.

If the e-mail comes from an apparently legitimate e-mail address, make sure by checking the exact address. Only hit ‘unsubscribe’ from e-mail addresses that are ‘real’. Otherwise, you may be bringing a deluge of further unwanted mail by clicking ‘remove’ or ‘unsubscribe’. Again, block the sender via the Junk Mail or Spam feature in your mail service, rather than unsubscribing.

Friendly word of advice: NEVER EVER unsubscribe from close family or friends e-mails :-)! It is far better to keep the peace!

Do you ever want to delay the delivery of an e-mail?

There are a fair number of times when I compose an e-mail, but it’s not the correct time to send it. Perhaps I don’t want someone to know that I was working on something over the weekend. Maybe I have a report to e-mail on Monday morning, but I’m not going to be in my office at that time. Whatever the case, there are times when I want an e-mail to be sent LATER…and I don’t want to have to try to remember to send it.

Outlook 2010 has a FABULOUS and easy way to allow you to send mail later – even if you’re not at your desk.

Compose your e-mail as you normally would:

Before hitting the ‘Send’ button, click on the ‘Options’ tab at the top of the screen. Now, select the ‘Delay Delivery’ button on the toolbar:

Set the date/time you want the e-mail sent:

Close this window. Finally, click ‘Send’ (just like you normally would).

Your email will go to your ‘Outbox’, but will not leave the Outbox until the specified date/time:

The email will be sent at the date/time you specified in the delay. Most of you will probably see the current date in the ‘Sent’ field. This is the date/time you pressed the ‘Send’ button and exiled your email to the Outbox. If you want to see what that date/time your e-mail is scheduled to go out, we need to add a field to the columns shown. Simply right-click on the bar with the column titles:

Select ‘Field Chooser’ from the list.

Select ‘All Mail Fields’ from the drop-down, then highlight ‘Defer Until’

Left-click and drag the ‘Defer Until’ field onto the column headings bar:

Voila! You see the date/time your email is scheduled to be sent.

Word of warning: If your email is NOT on an Exchange Server (and if you don’t know what that means, you’re probably not!), then you need to make sure that your Outlook is open and an internet connection exists at the date/time the email is to be sent. If Outlook is closed and/or there is no internet connection at the specified ‘send’ time, then the e-mail will be sent the next time that Outlook is open after that date/time.

Getting the word out: Economical e-mail blasting

Whew!!! First, I want to thank everyone who has given me such phenomenal feedback on this nascent blog. You have been wonderful in your reception. Your enthusiasm encourages me to make sure that I keep doing what I thought you wanted me to do – share my experiences and tidbits that I come across as I go through my days with the ‘rest’ of the world. Well, OK…you all may not exactly be the entire ‘rest’ of the world, but you’re a mighty bunch, and you’re ‘my bunch’!

For many of you, this blog is one of the first that you’ve subscribed to. For others, it seems to sit apart in your mind from others for the style and simplicity. Yeah! That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.

Naturally, a lot of questions have resulted from the how’s and why’s of getting this blog off the ground. I’ve addressed much of that in the last three posts, but now, I’m getting questions about ‘how much did the initial e-mail blast cost’, or ‘how did you do the initial e-mail blast’, or ‘can I use something like this in my business?’

The answer: IT WAS FREE and EASY and FUN TO DO!!! Don’t believe me? Just go to to find out. As to the question ‘Can you use it?’ the answer is: If you want an easy, inexpensive (‘free’ counts as ‘inexpensive’ to me) way to communicate on a regular basis with your customers, then ‘yes’, you can use it. There aren’t too many people who do NOT want an effective way to communicate with their clients and prospects.

MailChimp is a tool that I found when trying to find an e-mail blast system for a volunteer organization to which I belong. We were looking for a way to reach small groups of people (100 or so people in a bunch of different lists). Somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon MailChimp. MailChimp allows up to 1,000 subscribers in your list for FREE. You can send up to 6,000 e-mails per month for FREE. There is a little MailChimp logo at the bottom of the e-mail, but even the paid e-mail blasting systems put their logo in the footer. It’s not intrusive, and informs recipients that the e-mail is not ‘spam’, but part of an organized email campaign or delivery system, and allows the users the appropriate subscribe and opt-out alternatives.

What does all that mean? First, tools like this allow you to compose an e-mail once, then send it to a longgggg list of recipients of your choosing. E-mail services tend to view these e-mails as ‘good’ e-mails (not spam). You need to allow mass e-mail blast recipients to ‘opt out’ (i.e. not receive) e-mails from you any more, and services such as MailChimp offer that opportunity to the recipients, making you a ‘good’ e-mail blaster (rather than a ‘spammer’).

Within the 1,000 person, 6,000 e-mail limits of your free account (you can pay for larger lists, or for more e-mails per month), you can send 6 e-mails to 1,000 people, or 12 e-mails to 500 people, etc. The two counts are the maximums, but you can break it down in whatever fashion you want. I have a few clients who each send blasts to about 500 people, once a week or so. The ‘free’ version of MailChimp accommodates those needs perfectly!

Once you get by the cost (or lack thereof), comes the question: But how hard is it to use? I find it easier to use than other contact management systems with which I have worked. First, there is the little monkey dude (I’ve named him ‘George’ in my mind after ‘Curious George’ from the books by the same title) who is always helping you out. He’s a friendly sort! Corny, but friendly. Second, there are great tutorials available. Third, the screens are relatively uncluttered, so working your way through the steps is pretty easy.

If you have a format you want to use, you can copy/paste the HTML code into the screens, and create your e-mails from there. If you don’t have a pre-designed format (or you don’t have access/knowledge of HTML code), MailChimp has templates that you can use and customize to suit your needs. You can even set up e-mail blasts for your RSS feed. I haven’t tried that one yet, but I might sometime down the road…just to see how it functions.

The reports are beyond belief!! You can track the growth of your list, and you can track the activity of your campaigns (e-mail blasts). Yes, you can even see exactly WHO read your e-mail (and how many times). You can push your e-mail to the Social Sites, if that’s part of your marketing plan. You can ‘set it and forget it’. What?!?! Create the campaign/e-mail blast when you have time to do it, then set the time that it is to be sent. Whenever you set the ‘send’ time, the e-mail will go, allowing you to work ahead without bunching up the e-mails and annoying the recipients.

I’ve found that the free MailChimp has very few restrictions over the paid version – only the quantities of number of e-mails sent and size of list determine if you should/can remain on the free version. If your business supports more e-mails or a larger list, then you can pay by EITHER the number of e-mails sent OR the size of the list. Your pick. The charges, based upon my experience, seem very reasonable.

At any rate, MailChimp is a marvelous way to gain experience with managing your e-mail blasts without having to spend a fortune. Check it out! Give it a whirl! E-mail lists are ‘importable’ from any number of programs, so you don’t even have to key/re-key the contact information.

When you sign up, just tell ‘George’ hello for me…you’ll soon be ready for a banana break (you’ll know what I mean once you’ve tried it)!

Backing up your Outlook files

The other day, we had a tip for the group of users who do NOT use Outlook as their primary mail program. Today, we have a helpful hint for those who DO use Outlook (as I do).

I don’t know about you, but I could lose a lot of files on my computer and still be OK – AS LONG AS I still had my Outlook file(s). Most every important document that I work on is e-mailed to someone at some point in time. I can probably count on one hand the other ‘critical’ files I have (those which don’t get e-mailed ever): Quickbooks would be #1, then my timesheet and a couple of Access databases. After that, the level of importance drops radically. I would be devastated if I lost my 5000+ songs for my iPod (I could probably restore those from the iPod itself), but my business wouldn’t come to a screeching halt – the plane rides would just get ALOT longer :-).

My ‘other’ critical files (i.e. those which are NOT Outlook) can fit on a flash drive – no problem. I can copy them to an external drive in seconds. My Outlook file (and archives) on the other hand are humongous. They are many GB…not just a few MB. And trust me, if those files went ‘poof’, I would be beyond devastated. So, it makes it all the more important for me to copy/copy/copy!!! How about you?

Luckily, I have a pretty good backup system. I test restoring files on occasion (probably not as often as I should, but I do test it out). Many people, however, do not have a good backup system, or want to keep a copy of their Outlook files for their own safekeeping. It is easy to do (no more difficult that copying/pasting from Windows Explorer to whatever external storage you would like to use)…as long as you can locate the actual Outlook file on your computer (or server). Aha! That’s the problem!!! Where is the file?

I ran across this article which has a great description of how to locate/copy/restore your Outlook.

I BEG OF YOU!!! Save copies of your Outlook files elsewhere (out of your office/house). You’ll be amazed if you ever have to use them in a catastrophic circumstance…your Outlook contains a vast array of your work history. As you can see from this article, it only takes a second to do.

Setting the default mail client to a web-based service

Some people in this world actually do NOT use Outlook as their default e-mail client, but rather use Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, or Hotmail.  In fact, I would venture to say that a large portion of the population uses one of these web-based e-mail clients – at least in their private lives.

There is one consistent annoyance when trying to use a web-based e-mail instead of the ubiquitous Outlook (and, with the cost of Office, more and more people are not investing in this tool, opting for the free OpenOffice suite and web-based e-mail)…and that is when you want to click a ‘mail-to’ link on a web-page, and the computer you are on searches and searches and tries to open up Outlook to send the e-mail – regardless of whether or not you even have Outlook installed on that computer.

You end up cursing the computer, freezing it up, or generally frustrated.  RELAX!!!  Help is one the way :-).

There is a wonderful, FREE tool called GMailDefaultMaker ( that will allow you to set Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail or GMail as your default mail client.  You install it and forget it.  It does NOT take up system resources.  Simply download, install and forget it.  From that point forward, when you click on a ‘mail to’ link on any given web page, your web-based e-mail client will open instead of getting stuck with Outlook trying to open.

For some reason or other, the tool has not gotten a new name, but it should since Gmail isn’t the only web mail that it supports!