clip_image002The topic of filing vs piling of email has been had on ToWs passim (here & here), but this week’s gem comes courtesy of a recommendation by productivity guru Tim Pash.

Tim says he couldn’t live without a cracking utility which plugs into Outlook, called SimplyFile. The premise is very simple – it helps you file your emails in tidy little folders. Whoever has time to manually file all their email, eh? Using keywords it can derive from a message you have selected (combined with previous behaviour), it suggests a folder (or a number of folders) that you might want to file the mail into with a single click.

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There are a couple of ways to actually invoke the filing addin – you could select a message and then look to the Outlook toolbar, where the most likely folder is displayed in super-size, you can do some pretty funky filing of entire threads or even all messages within a given folder, where it will prompt you for each one. The tools for selecting folders etc are brilliant, and a model for speedy efficiency.

clip_image006Another option is to just right-click on a mail in a list and use the File In > pop out menu. The software promises to learn as you do more and more filing, but even on the first run it seems to have a fairly decent stab at the right place to put stuff. There are no rules to configure, no wizards to run – remarkably, it seems to just work. You might want to switch off the default filing of everything you send, though – that could be a little annoying.

There are a couple of gotchas – one being that if you have an Archive PST (or a 2nd mailbox into which archive content is dumped) then you might well have multiple folders with the same name (such as the name of a particular client or partner), which could make things a little trickier: SimplyFile might well identify the archive as the place to dump current content instead of the fresh and mostly empty folder that’s still in your Inbox. If you grow to reply on the software, it could be worth coming up with a naming convention for your archive folders to avoid confusion.

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Most of us probably have a strategy for arranging folders in Outlook’s hierarchy and giving them names anyway – in fact the two are sometimes linked, with names like zz-Archive that would historically have forced a folder to the bottom of the sorted list, or _ Important that would force it to the top. Did you know that in Outlook 2013, you can manually drag and drop folders around in the tree hierarchy to arrange them in ways other than alphabetically. Quite handy, really…

Oh, the second SimplyFile gotcha – it costs $50 of hard currency but like all the best addictive experiences, it’s available for free for a 30 day trial. Have a go, what’s the worst that can happen?