BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 1999

  

 

BOOT CAMP 063

OUTLOOK EXPRESS PART 1

Since Outlook Express first appeared as an add-on to the Internet Explorer 4 a couple of years ago, and later as an integral component in Windows 98, it has become one of the most popular E-mail programs or 'clients'. It's not hard to see why, it is reasonably easy to set-up and use, it's flexible, mostly does what it is told and integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft applications. However, because it is so straightforward we suspect relatively few users stray beyond the default settings or bother to explore its hidden depths so over the next two weeks we'll be looking at some of its less obvious features, ways of customising its appearance and changing the way it works.

One of the first things you might want to do is stop Outlook Express automatically dialling up your Internet service provider every time it is opened. This annoying feature can be turned off by clicking on Options on the Tools menu, select the Dial Up tab and uncheck 'Dial This Connection'. On earlier versions you will find the 'Connect Automatically' check box on the Dial-Up window.

Outlook Express behaves like any other Windows application so you can have it fill the screen or adjust the dimensions of the window to suit your desktop and your way of working. All you have to do is click, hold and drag the sizing triangle in the bottom right hand corner or move any of the side and top bars or separators and the new shape and size will be remembered every time you start the program. The main Toolbar has two width settings. To alter it move the mouse pointer over the edge of the Toolbar until it turns into to a double-headed arrow, click hold and move and it will change size. You can also change the Toolbar's position and appearance by right clicking on it and making a selection from the menu that appears.

You can make some fairly radical changes to the way Outlook looks with just a few clicks of the mouse. Go to Layout on the View menu and have a fiddle around with the settings for the menu bar. Try moving the Toolbar to various different positions and if you haven't already done so, enable the Outlook Bar. The Customise Toolbar button allows you to add or remove items as you wish.   

Outlook's incoming mail sound is somewhat uninspiring so why not change it for something a bit more dramatic or attention grabbing? There's nothing to stop you from creating your own sound, or you could borrow a sound file from another application. Why not try Joanna Lumley's 'You've got post' in AOL? You'll find it in the AOL folder, (assuming it was installed on your PC). In any event changing the sound is easy, from the Start menu go to Settings > Control Panel > and double click the Sounds Icon. Scroll down the list until you come to New Mail Notification, highlight the little speaker icon. Click the down arrow to take you through the Windows repertoire of sounds, or use Browse to get you to other sound files (with the extension *.wav) elsewhere on your hard disc. You can use the Sound Recorder program (Start > Programs > Accessories > Entertainment/Multimedia) to make your own sound effect from the PC's microphone, a personal stereo -- using a suitable connecting lead -- or from an audio CD in your CD-ROM drive (see Tip of the Week).

With so many freebie Internet access deals doing the rounds a lot of people have more than one E-mail address. If you like you can set up Outlook Express to cope with multiple accounts. Before you start you will need the settings for incoming and outgoing mail of the new accounts. If you don't have them to hand you should be able to find them on your ISP's web site or its Helpline. The incoming mail setting is a short line of text that contains the letters 'pop' (short for post office protocol), outgoing mail normally starts with 'smtp' (simple mail transfer protocol). You will also need to have your account name and password ready.

Open Outlook Express, go to Accounts on the Tools menu and select the Mail tab and this will display all of the E-mail ISP connections currently set up on your PC. Now click on Add, select Mail and the Internet Connection Wizard will start. Fill in the details as you are asked for them. You can leave the password field blank but if you don't fill it in you will probably have to key it in whenever Outlook connects to the server. The last job is to select which dial-up connection you want to use, make sure you choose the same one for all of your E-mail accounts. Click Finish and it's done. The next time you click on Send And Receive to pick up your mail, Outlook Express will access each account in sequence and download all of your mail messages into the Inbox.

You don't have to keep all of your mail in one place, you might want to separate personal and business messages, in which case create as many new folders as you need by right-clicking on the Outlook Express icon at the top of the Folder List panel and selecting New. Give the new folder a name and it will appear on the directory list. Items can be moved around using standard Windows drag-and-drop actions -- i.e. click and hold on a file, move it to a new folder and release the mouse button.  

Next week, customising your E-mails

 

JARGON FILTER

INBOX

A folder created by Outlook Express where all of your incoming mail messages are stored

ISP

Internet Service Provider -- a company providing Internet access, an E-mail address and a mailbox where messages sent to you are stored before they're downloaded on to your PC

WIZARD

A self-activating program that guides you through the set-up routine for a particular feature or application

 

TOP TIP

If you're bored with Windows sounds create your own from snippets of audio CDs, played in the CD-ROM drive. Load the CD and open the Sound Recorder by clicking on Start then Programs, Accessories and Multimedia (or Entertainment in Windows 98). Play the CD (the Audio CD player is also in Accessories > Multimedia/Entertainment), and click on the Sound Recorder red record button. You may need to adjust the level or enable the input from the CD player from Volume Control on the View menu on CD Player. Sound Recorder can also add special effects (echo, play backwards, change speed), and edit the sound (Delete Before/After on the edit menu). When you are happy with it, give it a name and save it in the Media folder in Windows. It can then be easily accessed from the Sounds utility in Control Panel and assigned to an event of your choice. Remember, no public performances if you're recording Copyright material!

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