Reveal the hidden fourth rule in Entourage: Linking

From the Microsoft Entourage newsgroup: A recent upgrade from Office 2004 to Office 2008 left an Entourage user without links from his messages to his contacts in his Address Book.

“Since upgrading to 2008, when I open a contact and click the link button, the program no longer goes out and automatically searches for all items involving that contact, as it did in 2004. Now, it only provides me the choice to make manual links to existing or new items.”

Links are those often unnoticed connections between items within and outside of Entourage. They can connect incoming mail to calendar events, calendar events to files, files to tasks and more.

Some links must be created manually but by enabling a couple of preferences, all incoming and outgoing messages can automatically be linked to the sender’s contact record in the Address Book.

These links are great for historical purposes. Instead of digging through folders of archived messages within Entourage, links allow us to open a contact’s record and view all our message history. Just switch to the Address Book, open a contact and select Open Links from the Links menu button.

But what if the preferences for linking aren’t enabled? The links will be missing. How can we create those links between our mail messages and their senders in the Address Book? This is the problem that the newsgroup poster was facing after his upgrade. By default, linking isn’t enabled.

Five days after the original message, another newsgroup member posted this tip:

“I noticed with 2008 that if you select an email and select Message –> Apply Rule –> All Rules, it links to the sender of the email. You might try just selecting all, and applying rules. The disadvantage is that it may move some emails if you have rules that do that.”

Alongside the three apparent rules found under the Tools menu–Junk E-mail Protection, Mailing List Manager and RulesLinking now takes its place as a hidden fourth rule in Entourage.

Rules are typically applied automatically when messages are sent or received but they can also be invoked manually. Just select one or more messages in a mail folder and choose Message –> Apply Rule –> All Rules.

For messages that have already been moved or categorized, reapplying rules shouldn’t have any effect. However, the hidden fourth rule, Linking, will quietly run on every message and populate the list of links for the contact records of their senders. This requires that you already have a contact record for the sender with the correct E-mail addresses.

After applying rules the message history will be complete and finding messages sent to and received from those contacts will be as simple as looking under their Links menu button.

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