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25Nov 2016

Five apps that make Outlook easier to use

For most us living in a hectic world of enterprise communication, our email client is where we spend most of our workday. It is the application that ties together all the other productivity apps we use on a daily basis. For Microsoft Office 365 users that means Outlook. Outlook is the leader in corporate email communications, as top companies like Melaleuca and others use it to expedite workflow.

While Microsoft has spent a great deal of time and resources trying to improve the Outlook interface, the app could still use some help when it comes to ease-of-use features. Here are five add-ins that could improve your daily interaction with the Outlook email client.

1: Bing Nearby

Whether it’s an onsite meeting with an important client or a lunch meeting with the team, it is important to get there on time. One of the best ways to keep yourself on schedule is to know exactly where you are going. The Bing Nearby app gives you instant access to Bing’s mapping features from within the confines of the Outlook interface.

Just click the Bing Nearby icon while you are composing a new message or creating a meeting on the calendar and you will see a dialog box in the right-hand pane. Type in an address or the name of a restaurant and the app will give you location choices. Click one of those choices and the pertinent location information will be attached to the message or calendar entry automatically.

2: PayPal

In today’s world, sending someone money can be accomplished with just a few clicks on the computer. However, the PayPal add-in for Outlook makes that process even simpler, assuming you have an account. While in Outlook writing a message, merely click the PayPal icon and you’ll be presented with a screen that will allow you to send a PayPal payment. All you need to fill out is the recipient’s address and your account password. Of course, the recipient will also need a PayPal account to collect the payment. The PayPal add-in is free, but depending on how you structured your account there may be a transaction fee attached.

3: DocuSign

Even in the digital age some documents must be signed—there is no way around it. However, with the help of the DocuSign add-in for Outlook, you can “sign” documents electronically without leaving your email client to do it.

The DocuSign add-in will lead you, and all the other signees of a document, through the process, clearly explaining each step along the way. Once the process is complete, the document will be signed just as well as if you had used a ballpoint pen.

The one catch is that DocuSign is not free. Installing the add-in to Outlook does not cost anything, but using it to get documents signed requires a subscription of at least $10/month—more for business uses. However, DocuSign does offer a 30-day free trial so you can check it out beforehand if you want. The expense is likely worth it for lawyers and real estate agents, for example. It may be worth it for your enterprise too.

4: Find Time

One of the more frustrating activities surrounding collaboration in an enterprise is scheduling a meeting time that works for everyone involved. This frustration goes beyond just finding a time when all the participants can attend, according to their Outlook calendars. People tend to have times during a workday when they would prefer to avoid having a meeting, for example. Find Time can help you find a meeting time that works best for all concerned.

Find Time will create a polling email for you to send to all potential meeting attendees. You can propose a meeting time or several times and the attendees can vote on which times they prefer. Find Time will compile the results and determine a time that the majority of attendees prefer. Problem solved and morale boosted.

Find Time was developed by a team at Microsoft and is a free add-in for Outlook. The service does require that you register an account the first time you use it.

5: IXD Secure Mail

Collaboration with team members about a project is all well and good, but sometimes you need to email sensitive documents that should remain confidential between the parties involved. This is where an encryption add-in for Outlook can come in handy.

IXD Secure Mail adds an extra level of encryption to an email and/or attachment to an email all within the Outlook interface. It does this by storing those documents in an encrypted form on a cloud-based server and coordinating access based on the information you provide.