The Electric Wand

Thoughts of a technology enthusiast.

Tip o’ the Week #30 – Sending emails from the past

Tip o’ the Week #30 – Sending emails from the past

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clip_image001Following on from ToW #9, regarding delaying sending email, this week’s episode was asked for by another reader, since he eagle-eyed-ly spotted that the email was send on one date but didn’t arrive in his inbox until a week later.

Aha! Now, it’s possible in Outlook to set that a message should not be delivered until a specific time but there are two distinct behaviours to this function.

Nowadays (since Outlook 2003, in fact), the default behaviour of Outlook is to be in “cached mode” – ie. mostly everything you do within Outlook happens to a cached copy of your Exchange mailbox, meaning the performance of Outlook in not dependent on the availability or speed of network access to the Exchange server.

In most cases, this is a great solution, however one downside is that that “Outbox” folder where email is held before being sent, doesn’t synchronise with the server, and is unique to the Outlook cached mode “profile” – so if you choose to send email at a later time and you’re in cached mode, it will only be sent if your PC is online.

The 2nd behaviour is if you’re using Outlook in “online mode” where the Outbox is a special folder that lives on the server, and mail sitting in it will be processed by the Exchange server at the appropriate time, regardless of whether you’ve got a client PC online or not.

If you need to regularly send mail at a time when you’re offline, the trick is to set up a second Outlook profile and use to actually do the sending… prepare in advance, hit send, and then amaze your colleagues by not only sending mail through a time vortex, but at a time when you’re known to be in the air/on a beach/asleep etc.

To set up a 2nd Profile

  • Go into the Mail application in Control panel (you’ll see it if you just type “Mail” at the start menu in Windows 7), and choose Show Profiles.
  • Click “Add”, give your new profile a meaningful name (like “Online mode”) then enter you name, email address and domain password (assuming you’re on Outlook 2007 or 2010, this info will be enough to “Auto Discover” where your server is) to the profile wizard…
  • After the wizard has found your server and says the account is configured, tick the “Manually configure server settings” box in the bottom left, then click next.
  • On the following screen, clear the checkbox that says “Use Cached Exchange Mode” then hit Finish.

clip_image002Et voila! The only challenge now is, how to get Outlook to actually use this profile?

Back at the Mail  configuration applet, you can choose to have Outlook prompt you for which profile to use every time it starts, and set which one will appear by default – in this case “Outlook” is the standard profile in Cached Mode, and a simple hit of the enter key will select that option when Outlook starts up.

If this is a once-in-a-blue-moon requirement, you could simply leave the setting to always use the Cached Mode profile, and then when you want to go into Online Mode, simply close Outlook, go into Control Panel, change this setting to prompt you, then start Outlook again (and maybe reverse that procedure when you’re finished)

clip_image003Now when you start Outlook up in “online” mode, you might see that it’s a bit more sluggish, since everything you do (open an email, open an attachment in an already-opened-email, sort a folder etc) requires that the client and the server send potentially large amounts of data back & forth. So it’s best to limit your “online” mode bit to as short as possible. You may notice that the status bar now says “Online with…” rather than “Connected to Microsoft Exchange”.

Sending mail from the past

The best way to do this is to draft the email you want to send when you’re in Cached Mode, and make sure a copy of it is in your Drafts folder.

  • Close Outlook down*
  • Restart, then select the online profile
  • open the email in question from your Drafts folder
  • change the “Do not deliver before” option in the ribbon’s Option tab | Delay Delivery 
  • hit send, and watch the email stay in the Outbox … now you can close Outlook down.

You won’t see the pending email in your Outbox when you return to cached mode, since that Outbox folder is coming from your PC and not the server. You will see the email sitting in the Outbox folder if you log in again using Outlook & the Online profile.

*on closing Outlook, you may need to close other applications that use Outlook, or wait a little for all the addins that Outlook could be running (like GSX), to shut down  - if when attempting to start Outlook in online mode, and you don’t get prompted for a profile as you might be expecting, that means Outlook is still running.

If this happens, try closing Outlook again and check in Task Manager to make sure OUTLOOK.EXE isn’t still there. Top tip for getting Task Manager running quickly, even if Windows Explorer has hung… CTRL+SHIFT+ESC. There you go, multiple tips for the price of one…

Comments
  • Hi Ewan,

    you can start outlook from 'run' with

    outlook /profiles

    to bring up the profile selection window.  Saves having to root about in the control panel.

  • nice tip, thanks Andrew :)

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