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If you use Microsoft Outlook and your e-mail has become a burden to manage, it’s time to exercise the delete key finger; configure Outlook, e.g., populate the Quick Access tool bar and set up filters and search folders; or use an e-mail organizer like Caelo Software’s NEO Pro. For this review, I tried out NEO Pro. NEO Pro is an add-on product to Outlook and works with Outlook 97 and above and Exchange Servers 5.5 and above. It is an additional interface to Outlook, but it does not replace it. In fact, when you create a new mail message, appointment, contact, journal entry, note or task in NEO, the Outlook interface opens for you to accomplish the action. You can also easily switch between the two interfaces by clicking on the Outlook button in NEO (or pressing Control+O). Click image to enlarge Figure 1. Move from NEO to Outlook. Click image to enlarge. From Outlook, you can access NEO from the Outlook tool bar. Click image to enlarge Figure 2. Move from Outlook to NEO. Click image to enlarge. Alternatively, since NEO runs in its own program, you can also switch from NEO to Outlook and back using the ALT+TAB key sequence. All this is important because you’re not giving up on your Outlook interface for NEO — you are adding an additional way to view and find messages. NEO does not organize other Outlook types such as calendar items, journal items and note items. NEO is a client-side product that installs and operates on your computer. Your Exchange Administrator will not have to intervene on your behalf to install the product. You can organize your mailbox and as many PST files as you want in the NEO interface. In effect, you can bring together your current mailbox and your archived mail into one view. Caelo Software had its work cut out for it on my desktop. I use Microsoft Outlook 2007 to access mail in an Exchange Server, in Google Gmail via IMAP and in Microsoft Live Mail via MAPI. Needless to say, my Outlook is complicated. NEO OUTLOOK VIEWS NEO provides an “active” view of mail by automatically classifying all incoming mail as active, including messages that are automatically deposited into folders via Outlook rules. Since I had already configured Outlook rules to send some incoming mail directly to dedicated folders on receipt, I did not bother with the active view of all mail and disabled that option. Click image to enlarge Figure 3. Disable NEO’s active view of mail by pulling down the Tools-Options menu and de-selecting the options for “Active Mail.” Click image to enlarge. Once the active mail feature was disabled, I turned my attention to other NEO features. NEO automatically recognized mail sent to me “indirectly” and classified it as unsorted bulk mail. Indirect mail is mail that is not sent directly to your e-mail address, but is sent to you as a member of a list or group. This feature is nice if you receive a lot of indirect mail that does not need your immediate attention. But I found the most value from NEO’s correspondent view. NEO’s correspondent view of mail is just what it says it is. NEO automatically groups mail in separate folders by who sent it to you. Each correspondent folder also includes messages that you sent to that correspondent. In effect, it is like viewing an Outlook search folder. Don’t forget that you can set up search folders in Outlook by pulling down the File-New-Search Folder (or pressing the Control+Shift+P keys simultaneously). Outlook then presents you with options to create quick-and-dirty search folders to view all your unread mail, mail flagged for follow-up, mail from specific people, mail sent to distribution lists, etc. You can also create a custom search folder. For example, you can set the criteria to view all mail sent to, and from, a certain person, thus creating a NEO “correspondent” folder. However, NEO does it on the fly for incoming mail so you don’t have to manually set up separate search folders. NEO also presents a “Hot” view of your most active folders by right-clicking on a folder and selecting “Hot.” The selected folder then appears in the Hot section of NEO’s navigation pane. This is similar to moving an Outlook folder into the Favorite Folders of Outlook’s navigation pane. And speaking of the navigation pane, NEO’s pane can view Outlook folders in a hierarchical tree, like Outlook, but also by the folders most frequently used as well as an alphabetical view of all folders, including subfolders, in one tree view. Other views in NEO that are available without further configuration: messages by date (today, yesterday, this week, last week, etc.), categorized messages and mail with status indicators set such as “To Do,” “Flagged” and “Important.” NEO’s view of all mail with attachments differs from Outlook’s view of the same criteria. NEO includes subcategories, or filters, by the type of attachment such as DOC, DOCX, PDF and XLS. In effect, you can focus on all messages with a PDF or other attachment. In addition, NEO also provides the file name of the attachment in plain view. Click image to enlarge Figure 4. NEO Outlook view of messages with attachments by file type. Click image to enlarge. And like Outlook, NEO provides a handy search tool that can search all mail and create a saved search as a search folder. But there are some marked differences between Outlook’s search and NEO’s search. The first and foremost is speed. I set up a search of all my mail (approximately 1,550 items) to find where “e-discovery” was contained in the subject or body of the message. NEO returned 168 messages in one second. Really! In Outlook, the same search took over one minute. NEO found more items than Outlook because I had its match-similar-words feature enabled. In effect, NEO automatically searched for “discovery” too, but not “ediscovery.” It would be nice to have an interface to NEO’s word index. That way, I could find messages with misspelled or alternative words. FIRST LOOKS NEO Pro’s installation under Windows XP SP3 was uneventful. In fact, no reboot was necessary to get started immediately with creating a catalog. NEO organizes Outlook messages by creating a catalog. The program does not create copies of your e-mail. All messages remain in Outlook message stores. The catalog contains only the indexes to messages, which NEO uses to display mail in various ways. But don’t be fooled. When you delete a message in NEO, it deletes it from all its views and the Outlook message store. When you are using offline mode or cached Exchange mode, it is best to delete messages from NEO, not Outlook. If deleted outside of NEO via Outlook or via an Outlook rule, then messages may not disappear from NEO until you do a full synchronization between NEO and Outlook. Synchronization option appears on the NEO tool bar. By default, NEO automatically engages a “Fast Sync” on startup when Outlook starts. When I installed NEO, it recognized all my message stores for Exchange, Gmail and Live Mail. At first, I created one catalog for all my messages. However, that was not an optimal configuration for performance reasons. Instead, I created a catalog for each message store and switched between them on demand. And for each catalog I created, NEO provided options to exclude certain folders from indexing, e.g., “Junk Mail” folders or the “All Mail” folder in Gmail. Click image to enlarge Figure 5. NEO Outlook view of separate catalogs with the Main Catalog (Exchange Server 2003 mail) selected. Click image to enlarge. During testing, NEO was not error free. I forced Windows XP, Outlook and NEO to abnormally end by turning off the computer. When the system came back up, NEO complained of database error on files NFL.DAT, NAD.DAT or CSO.DAT. This error occurs when the NEO catalog (read: database) gets corrupted. Luckily, NEO does not require a database administrator to fix this problem. Each time NEO starts it backs up critical files to rebuild the catalog if it gets corrupted. If corruption occurs, copy the backup files located in the “Backup” folder in the directory where the catalog is located (C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Caelo\Neo Pro\4.0\ … ) and overwrite the corrupted files with the same name. Then, restart NEO. Alternatively, if you can open the NEO interface, pull down the File -Catalog menu and select “Restore From Backup.” CONCLUSION NEO Pro was easy for me to install and operate without investing a lot of time. At the least, its intuitive interface that can combine active Outlook mail with an archive PST is worth the purchase price of $49.95. Add NEO’s ability to automatically create correspondent folders and bulk-mail views of messages and you have a tool that will quickly bring order to your Outlook mail. Sean Doherty is Law.com’s Legal Technology editor. Product: NEO Pro version 4.0 Bld 438 (Nelson E-mail Organizer) Requirements: Microsoft Windows 98 and above; MS Outlook 98 and above; approximately 12 MB disk space; approximately 24 MB physical memory and 47 MB virtual memory. Test environment: Microsoft XP SP3 Microsoft Outlook 2007 Exchange Server 2003, Google Gmail, Microsoft Live Mail Lenovo ThinkPad T43 (1.86 MHz Intel Pentium M, 1 GB RAM)

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