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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Email Woes

Answering email has become a huge problem for me. I haven't been good about it in a while. Okay, a long while, but in the last six months it has gotten much, much worse.

What happened? I bought a new laptop.

Here's the thing. Windows 7 does not have Outlook Express (OE), which is what I've always used. Instead, it's Live Mail or something like that. So I decided that I'd use Outlook. I have Outlook 2003 at the Evil Day Job (EDJ) and it's fine. Some features I like better than OE, some features I like less, but overall it's a wash. I loaded Office 2007 and prepared to transfer my email over to the new laptop.

This wasn't as easy as it sounds. OE uses a different file type than Outlook, so I couldn't simply move everything over. First, I needed to import everything into the Live Mail program. Second, I had to export everything over to Outlook. Aggravating since they're all Microsoft email programs, but only a little time consuming.

And then I discovered I didn't like Outlook 2007 for email.

I don't know why, but for some reason, it's like I don't see the email anymore once it's inside the program. I've tried adjusting things. I know the basics of the program well enough since I use a version of it at the EDJ, but no matter what I changed or how I arranged things, I didn't like it. I still download my email, read it, and forget it's even there. With OE, I used to keep my email program open all the time. With Outlook, I almost never open it and this might be part of the problem I'm having answering email. It's hard to reply when the program is closed.

Clearly, I need to do something about this problem. I remembered there was a website that had old versions of software available to download and I headed over there, hoping to find a version of OE. Only I discovered that OE has never been separate from the computer's operating system, and to get OE, I'd have to download XP and run two systems on my laptop. I don't want to do that.

I thought I'd give Live Mail a try after all. And discovered that to transfer my notes into that program, I'd have to put everything on jump drive, import it on my old laptop to OE, then export those files back to the jump drive, and import them to Live Mail. That seemed like a hell of a lot of work and what if I don't like Live Mail any better than Outlook? If I spent all that time to make the transition and ended up not using it, I wouldn't be happy. Microsoft, why aren't you compatible with yourself???

Next, I thought hey, maybe I can find another free email program. Thunderbird immediately sprang to mind. I'd tried it before and didn't like it, but it must have changed since then and maybe I'd like it now. I didn't.

I checked into other email programs, but after looking at screenshots of the interfaces for multiple programs, I wasn't impressed. Plus, some of the free versions make you have ads. Uh, no. I'm not putting up with ads in my email just to use their program. So I've been stumbling along, the email piling up unanswered inside Outlook 2007.

A couple of weeks ago, I upgraded to Office 2010. My hope was that Outlook 2010 would be more Patti friendly than 2007. It wasn't. In fact, I like it even less than 2007 and that's going some distance.

Do I go through the conversion process to use Live Mail and hope that I like it? There's some question whether I can even convert unless OE is on the same computer, which rules this out. Or do I get out my Office 2003 disk and load Outlook 2003, which I like a lot better than 2007/2010? I'm not sure that Microsoft will let me do this. Or do I try to like Thunderbird? Which might not be possible.

My solution for now is to order Outlook 2010 for Dummies, hoping that if I can configure the program differently, I might remember I have email. I don't know if this will work, but I have to try something. I can't not answer people--that's rude. Anyway, if you're one of the people waiting for email from me, I'm sorry. Really sorry.