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Most of us are familiar with how distribution lists come in handy as a way to detour around the tedium of hand-addressing e-mails to dozens or hundreds of people at once.
However, they do introduce some tedium of their own. For example, if you delete a contact from Microsoft Outlook, it isn't removed from any of the distribution lists it's in -- those have to be manually scavenged.
Distribution List Manager (DLM) ($24.95 per seat) works with Outlook 2000 through Outlook 2003 to alleviate some of the common problems associated with distribution lists in Microsoft Outlook.
One common complaint DLM addresses is how to create a distribution list automatically from all the addresses in a given e-mail. For instance, DLM can automatically turn a message's To, From, or CC field recipients into a distribution list for future use.
The program can also automatically create distribution lists from category views in the Contacts section of Microsoft Outlook -- a handy timesaver if you've got contacts pre-categorized in this fashion. If you have multiple contact folders, the program can scan them individually.
You can exclude names from any distribution lists created, which is one way to keep your own name off lists so you don't receive a copy of every distribution-list e-mail you send out.
DLM also keeps running tallies of how many members there are in a given distribution list, and will warn you if you're nearing that limit (typically, 150 e-mail addresses). In addition, if someone's contact information changes, any distribution lists that contain that person's e-mail address will be automatically updated. Distribution lists can be backed up or restored for safekeeping, too.
Finally, the program's integrated tightly enough with Microsoft Outlook so that it doesn't trigger any of the security prompts usually invoked by scripts that attempt to modify or access the Contacts list.
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter.
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This was first published in April 2006