Category Archives: Office:Mac

All things Office:Mac

the evolution of my category list

I started using Entourage:Mac when I joined the MacBU in 2005.  As my mail changed from a steady stream to a rushing river, I evolved some techniques in Entourage (and later in Outlook) to handle it.  One of my techniques was the use of an extensive set of server-side rules to filter my mail.  My goal was to have only mail that was sent directly to me in my main inbox.  Anything that was sent to a list of people would go into a subfolder.

The other technique was to use colour-coded categories.  My category list evolved over time.  When I left Microsoft, I had one category for my user experience team, one for each application team, another one for general MacBU stuff, one for colleagues on the Office for Windows team, one for travel stuff, one for my personal contacts, and so on.   I had about 20 categories.  The categories were all colour-coded (for example, my PowerPoint category was orange and my Excel category was green).  This allowed me to tell, at a glance, what’s in store for me.  If I opened my inbox and saw a lot of yellow, I knew that there was something going on for Outlook.  If I opened my calendar and saw a lot of magenta, I knew that I was going to be heads-down working on user experience stuff.

I’m still using Outlook:Mac (of course!), and I imported my contact list.  But suddenly I don’t need all of those categories anymore.  All of my old categories for my work at Microsoft don’t apply any more.  I collapsed all of my old Microsoft contacts into a single category.  I created a new category for my new user experience team, as well as a general VMware category for all of these people that I don’t know yet how they fit into everything.  Now, my categories are: business, personal, services, SPLASH, travel, UE, and VMware.

I tried to go category-less when I started here to see what it was like, and that lasted for all of two weeks.  Categories help me keep track of and easily find things.  It was driving me crazy that I couldn’t glance at my inbox and tell the difference between mail from the people on my user experience team and mail from a developer on vCloud.  I couldn’t filter my calendar to only look see my flights.  I felt lost, and so the categories came back posthaste.

My category list will continue to evolve.  As I meet more people and learn more about the applications that I’ll work on, the list will change to accommodate all of these new relationships.  It might even be time to add a secondary category, “holiday”, to my list so that I don’t have to go through all of my contacts as I send my holiday cards this year.  (Which reminds me: I love sending holiday cards, so ping me if you want to be added to that list.  It’s somewhere between possible and likely that my holiday cards will be postcards from Sydney this year.)

Exchange Connections slides coming

Today, I presented two sessions with Bill Smith at Exchange Connections: Administering Macs in Exchange and Outlook:Mac 101. Once I get back to a better network connection, I’ll post my slides here. For those of you who attended the conference, the slides will get posted to the conference site as well.

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the sessions, since this is my first time here.  We ended up with about 50 people in both sessions, with about half of those attending both.  So I was really pleased with it.  I’ll be waiting to see the conference evaluations to see if I’m the only one who was pleased.

Macworld: Make a smooth switch to Outlook

Joe Kissell wrote an article about how to make a smooth switch to Outlook from Entourage for Macworld.  He also published a guide to Outlook keyboard shortcuts.  They’re both pretty useful articles, although I have to admit that I’ve been using Outlook for so long that my muscle memory has been reprogrammed for changed keyboard shortcuts for ages.

I am surprised that he calls Outlook’s Scheduling Assistant a new feature.  While the Entourage one wasn’t as easy on the eyes, nor as easy to use, as the Outlook one, it did exist.  My colleague Amir wrote a blog post titled How does Entourage work? that includes a screenshot of the free/busy information that’s provided by the scheduling assistant in Entourage.

Joe’s list of Entourage features that you might miss includes NNTP support.  Even though I’m an old-skool Usenet user myself, I can’t say that I preferred having it in Entourage to using a separate client.  That said, my preferred Usenet newsreader is still tin, so I think it’s fair to say that my usage isn’t representative.  Not that I’m sure that there’s really any representative Usenet usage left out there.

looking forward to Exchange Connections

Amongst everything else that’s going on in the past few weeks, I realise that I’ve completely forgotten to mention that I’m speaking at the Exchange Connections conference!  I roped Bill Smith, one of the Outlook:Mac MVPs, into giving two talks with me: Administering Macs in an Exchange Environment, and Outlook:Mac 101.  Both talks are on Thursday morning.

Sadly, this is a super-busy week for me, so I’m not going to be able to spend as much time at the conference as I had originally planned.  If you’re there, say hi!  Feel free to email me, or just catch me on twitter for my current whereabouts.

the design of the new Office:Mac icons

Along with all of the other changes, Office:Mac is sporting new icons for all of the applications.  We worked with Frog Design to create these visual elements.  Frog posted about redesigning an icon to talk about what went into creating the new app icons, and Fast Company Design has a discussion of it too: How Frog created the Mac icons for Microsoft Office 2011.

App icons are important.  They’re one of the first things that you see when you install an application.  They live in your Dock, and you see them every day.  It’s important to get ’em right, and I think that Frog did an awesome job.  I’m terribly biased, but I especially like that lovely goldenrod O that has been a constant companion in my Dock for months.

TechFlash interview with Eric Wilfrid and Takeshi Numoto

I just saw that my boss, Eric Wilfrid, and his boss, Takeshi Numoto, have an interview in TechFlash today: Mac and Windows: Microsoft’s two Office teams getting tighter.  I especially like Eric’s question about how MacBU manifests its independence:

The pride is absolutely there in tailoring an Office experience for the Mac and for what Mac customers would expect. In 2011, you’ve probably seen the full-screen view in Word. That’s an experience that my team came up with based on Mac customer needs and something that we could do really, really well on the Mac. I think that you can expect to see us continue to do that, where there’s an experience piece of Office that really makes sense on the Mac, whether it’s full-screen view or the way we do the ribbon or the new dynamic reorder. We’ll continue to have a different voice that matches our customer needs.

And that is exactly why I do what I do!