Tip

An alternative to the Microsoft Outlook vCard

Can't be bothered by using vCards or taking the time to manually type information into a Microsoft Outlook Contact form? Now there's an alternative option -- a Microsoft Outlook called add-in called Anagram that automatically

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sets up contacts and appointments based on email text you highlight.

The vCard is a method of interchanging contact information in the context of a Microsoft Outlook email message without too much overhead. But not everyone uses the vCard -- or can -- and most are just content to drop their contact information into a signature block.

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With Anagram for Outlook installed, you can highlight a block of text that contains an address, a meeting description or contact information, then press a hotkey to add the item in question as an appointment or contact in Microsoft Outlook.

The type of item to be created will be deduced from the formatting of the selected text. For example, an item with a date range or a specific time is typically rendered as an appointment. An address or phone number is assumed to be a contact. Other text items can be rendered as a memo (e.g., a numbered to-do list).

The final results are available for review and correction before you save them. If you can't select the exact text in question, you can pre-trim the text in anagram's Captured Text window before submitting it for processing. The captured data can also be manually resubmitted as a specific kind of item (memo, contact, etc.) if the automatic detection routines don't work properly.

A free demo of Anagram for Outlook is available. Individual seats are U.S. $29.95, with volume pricing available. Microsoft Outlook 97 to Outlook 2003 are currently supported, along with Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Jigsaw and Palm Desktop. Windows Vista and Microsoft Outlook 2007 are also supported.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight, a newsletter devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for all flavors of Windows users.

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This was first published in August 2007

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