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Microsoft Outlook was designed in many respects to be a genuine organizational tool, but it is missing a few things. For one, its search function is still a little bit lacking. (See another tip I wrote, Free tool accelerates Outlook store searches.)
Some kind of global search-and-replace functionality that spans multiple object types has been missing for a long time, too. Well, wait no longer, because someone's written a program that allows you to do just that.
Find & Replace for MS Outlook is a standalone application that runs outside of Microsoft Outlook itself (but does require Outlook to be installed on the system it's running on) that can search for any given text in all the objects of an Outlook store -- contacts, e-mails, appointments, tasks, and so on -- and replace it with text you specify.
When you launch the program, it displays a tree view of the folders in your Microsoft Outlook store and lets you select which ones you want to search, and what types of objects to search for within them. Exchange Server public folders are also supported.
Type a phrase to search, click "Find" and let the program run. Because the search operation isn't indexed, it may take some time for the search to complete; it will depend on your computer's speed. Results are displayed in a grid video in another tab, where you can preview the matched messages and supply a replacement term for all the messages in question.
You can also select a subset of the matched messages and perform the replace action on those messages only. The matches are broken out not only by the type of object, but where the match took place -- in the subject or body of an e-mail, for instance.
Note that any changes you make with the program are permanent -- there's no "undo" function in the program. If you're worried about damaging data, make a backup of your .PST file before actually using the program.
Also, when the program attempts to access the message store, Outlook will typically signal you with a dialog box to ask if this is OK as a security measure; just say "Yes" to continue.
A free trial download is available. If and when you're ready to buy, the "personal" version will allow you to have one desktop copy and one laptop copy installed, and will cost you $19.99 GBP, which is approximately $35 U.S. The "business" version allows for up to 50 users and machines, and costs $199.90 GBP, which is about $277 U.S.
Additional details and screenshots are available here.
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter.
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This was first published in December 2005