Mar
10

How to auto print Outlook email messages and attachments

In one of the previous reviews I was trying to find the ideal Outlook plug-in for automatic BCC / CC in Outlook. Today I suggest you looking at the group of Outlook plug-ins purposed for automating the process of printing out email messages and attachments and in Microsoft Outlook.

If the theater starts with the cloakroom, then an add-in, or a plug-in definitely starts with installation. Running into some difficulties or obscure things at the start, the user may send another “masterpiece of the development thought” directly into the recycle bin without mercy. And if, for commercial software, there may be some psychological barrier related to the unwillingness to initiate the refund process, nothing restrains the user of shareware or trialware.

In spite of the fact that the first plug-ins for Outlook users appeared on the market more that 10 years ago, even now the lack of problems at the installation stage is often perceived as a pleasant surprise. To do justice, it should be noted that this is basically true for non-expensive end user applications. So, I suggest that we make the simplicity and reliability of the installation wizard
the first criterion in evaluating plug-ins.

After having a closer look at the selected plug-ins and carrying out plenty of experiments with their functionality, I came to the conclusion that the main problem with automatic printing there is an exception for every rule. That’s why the ability to interfere in the process (the BIG Cancel button : ) does matter!

I mean, if I want to manually print out a given message or attachment right away, I click on a button and get a printed copy. I do not care about rules, folders and built-in Outlook policies. But if all is absolutely clear with the quick print button, it is either available or not, the matter is not so easy with automation. A successful compromise between flexibility and easiness-to-use is hard to reach, and not all developers succeed in it. In case they don’t, you get just another pain in the backside instead of a time-saving tool for automating one of your daily tasks.

Add-in Version Developer Price Supports
Print Tools for Outlook 1.7.7 MAPILab Ltd. $24 MS Outlook 2000-2007
OutlookPrinter 1.3.4 Wisco $29.95 MS Outlook 2000/XP/2003
MP Print 1.6 Add On Mail &eur; 190 MS Outlook 2000/XP/2003
Blueprint 4 Outlook Basic Edition 2.3 Savisoft $34.99 MS Outlook 2007-2000

Print Tools for Outlook from MAPILab

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003, 2007.
  • Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista.

Download Print Tools for Outlook

If someone brings us surprise and delight, it is the MAPILab company. In a minute you will read the phrase, frequently used in reviews of their product: no problem. Their installer works like a Swiss watch indeed.

In the current version of their Print Tools, English, German and Russian languages are available. Also from the welcome screen you can learn about main functions performed by the add-in:

Automatic printing out Microsoft Outlook email messages, items and attachments, printing items within a data range, printing documents fro ZIP and RAR archives and more.

Installing Print Tools for Outlook

At this point, I’d like to note that for more flexibility and universality, MAPILab provide their printing plug-in with its own built-in rule manager, and keep the possibility to use the Outlook built-in manager.

Well, let’s start from the very beginning… You can use Print Tools for Outlook in a trial mode for 30 days:

Print Tools for Outlook: Trial information

You will not have to make any guesses about where to search for the newly installed add-in.

Welcome screen will tell and show you everything:

Print Tools for Outlook: Add-in location window

Both quick print options (Print items and attachments, Print items only), and the Print wizard are at your disposal.

The same applies to the settings window:

Print Tools for Outlook: Add-in settings location window

Here you can specify types of files you want to be printed. You can select all types of attachments, specified attachment types or print all except for specified ones.

Such a brief tour on main functions of the add-in. The Print Tools add-in places its button on the main Outlook toolbar:

Print Tools for Outlook: Menu

For the moment we are particularly interested in the Print wizard, since all other items of the drop-down menu above are self-explanatory: printing items with attachments, only items or only attachments. As mentioned above, Print Tools for Outlook can print out files directly from ZIP and RAR archives without extracting them. As to file types, if you can print them manually, the plug-in will also cope. Though, there is always place for experimenters wishing to check out how the software would behave it to feed it with video or audio files.

It turned out that the remark about using Print Tools together with the Outlook built-in rule manager was definitely in place. You will never get lost in this wizard:

Print Tools for Outlook: Print wizard

At the same time it enhances the functionality of the add-in exactly to the extent that you may need for dealing with most common tasks. You can easily, just with one click, select the desired print range. As to the Print what section, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, just commit this work to the built-in Outlook Rules Manager. In this window you can also choose the preferred printing style: print in a table, or as separated items.

The add-in settings are located in Outlook options on the Print Tools tab:

Print Tools for Outlook: Options window

So, you can select the Outlook attachment type(s) to be printed, create exceptions, or print all. Also, you have an opportunity to look at Advanced Options, though it’s not quite clear why we cannot get there directly from the Options window. It looks a bit illogical. However, opening the Tools menu, we can find the desired option:

Print Tools for Outlook: Add-in full menu

The Advanced options window will allow you to choose the printer, and to select the buttons you want to have on your Outlook toolbar:

Print Tools for Outlook: Printer setup

The option of selecting from all printers available in the network deserves special attention. You can do it once, or select a new printer every time depending on the circumstances. The same applies to the printing dialog.

As to the Print tools buttons, they have the following look:

Print Tools for Outlook: Button menu

Summing up, I could say that once again MAPILab created an excellent plug-in, that they maintain their reputation, that the price / quality ratio is the best you can get. Instead of all this I just recommend trying their printing plug-in.

OutlookPrinter from Wisco

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003.
  • Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, 2003.

Wisco OutlookPrinter web-site

The installer of this plug-in doesn’t raise any questions either, though its options are limited to choosing the installation folder.

Starting your Outlook, you will see the following window:

Outlook Printer: License information

In fact, it is the form for purchasing and activating the plug-in. Since I had no intention to do either of the actions, I simply closed that window, keeping in mind that I have 14 days for evaluating the Outlook Printer plug-in. As it became clear later, I needed to click the Start button to go on familiarizing with the add-in.

The developers give us no hint about how the plug-in’s toolbar should look like. From their web-site, I learned that it is a button and that it is to be located in the lower left corner of the Outlook toolbar. That’s true, in the lower corner. But I had started to search for the toolbar before I read Quick start. Looking over the customary places I, naturally, didn’t find the plug-in. My Outlook swears it not responsible for that and doesn’t have a malicious intent to hide plug-ins:

Outlook Printer: Toolbars

Following directly the instructions, I did manage to pin down the button. In spite of a rather unusual location, when clicked on, the button duly provides access to the menu which has the following look:

Outlook Printer: Add-in button

The menu provides access to templates, settings, updates and help. It should be also noted that the button can be easily moved to the usual location.

Let’s go through the printing settings.

Outlook Printer: Add-in button

Among the available options are: showing a dialog if attachment cannot be printed, showing report after printing and the default paths to the template and log-file.

Settings of automatic printing reside in a separate group:

Outlook Printer: Auto print window

This is the case when they are reinventing the wheel. It would be wrong to call it the rules manager. Also, it’s not quite clear how to use all this stuff. Being taken to the Outlook address book would be to the point, but this::

Outlook Printer: Filter

What kind of value, and in what format? It’s hard to imagine, and frankly speaking I have no desire to carry out research on this issue. After all, the task of printing out Outlook emails and attachments is very trivial. It’s rather a question of comfort and convenience for the user.

From the very beginning I was interested in the “Templates” tab. Probably the developers have some ace up their sleeve. When I hear the word “templates”, I assume they provide some flexibility for the user. All the more, an effective use of any templates is inconceivable without a clever manager. This is what we have run into.

Let’s click on the “Templates” tab and see what is behind the scene.

Outlook Printer: Templates manager

In general, we have an ordinary window for an ordinary task. Let’s dig deeper and see how we can use it.

Clicking on the Edit button opens a Microsoft Word file with the following content:

Outlook Printer: Template sample

Have a look at another template:

Outlook Printer: Another template sample

I cannot come up with any idea of how it can be used in practice. Let’s see how matters stand with rules… Click on Edit:

Outlook Printer: Template properties

Firstly, each template is bound to a certain printer. It is inconvenient. What if I want to print a photo from a given Outlook attachment on a photo printer instead of the usual office printer. This will require creating a new template. In this case, it is easier to choose the printer when we need it, than to create a template for each possible situation.

Now let’s have a look at the attachment types:

Outlook Printer: Select filetypes

This is done excellently, especially if to compare with all other stuff. However, printing out a Teleport Pro project (it is an offline site explorer) is hard to imagine.

A conclusion: In my view, this is the case when a compromise between good functionality and a user-friendly interface was not reached.

Message Save from TechHit

Although the name of this plug-in doesn’t suggest the idea of printing out attachments
(its main function is to back up Outlook messages as described in our review of
Backup plug-ins for Outlook e-mail messages, files, contacts and address book),
it can be used for this purpose as well. When writing that review, I didn’t notice the printing ability in this plug-in. But it turned out very easy: if you purchased MessageSave, you may be interested in so called custom actions. Downloading a special script on your hard disk, which is free, and connect it to the add-in, you get the ability to print out Outlook attachments. I cannot state that it is done in a way comfortable for the user, still may be someone will find it useful.
It is not so easy, though:

  1. Save this file printfile.vbs to c:\printfile.vbs
  2. Select one or several messages which you would like to print and click the MessageSave Outlook toolbar button.
  3. In the MessageSave “Save Messages” dialog, check the “Execute” checkbox and type c:\printfile.vbs in the field next to it.
  4. Click “Save Now”
  5. That’s it. The messages should be printing on your default printer.

As I said, it is not the best way for auto printing attachments. But you have already purchased MessageSave you can make use of it.

MP Print from Add On Mail

  • Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003.
  • Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, 2003.

web-site

The setup file is supplied with an excellently illustrated PDF file which covers all aspects of work with this plug-in.

To start working with the MP Print plug-in, you need to configure it. This can be done via the Microsoft Outlook Tools menu and the Rules Wizard menu item:

MP Print: Configuring Outlook Rules and Alerts

Then you need to create a rule in the built-in rules manager. For example, in which folder to place certain e-mails:

MP Print: Configuring rules wizard

Accomplishing this task, select Perform a custom action:

MP Print: Custom action adjustment

After that, in an opening dialog window, select MP Print.

MP Print: Choose performed action

Clicking on Change, you get a possibility to set the printing options:

MP Print: Printing options

The following options are available: choice of the printer, number of copies, types of attachments to be printed, and rule exceptions.

If you truly believe that the result is worth the time spent, the add-in deserves your attention. If you have another free _ 190, of course. I personally cannot understand why the price is so high.

Blueprint 4 Outlook from Savvisoft

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003, 2007.
  • Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista.

Blueprint 4 Outlook web-site

This printing plug-in is available in three versions: Basic, Professional, and Enterprise Edition. They differ in price from $14.99 to $44.99, and naturally, in functionality.

For this review I chose Blueprint Professional Edition, whose price of $34.99 seems quite reasonable.

The installation process is simple and undemanding. You can install the plug-in into any folder of any disk.

After the installation is completed, you will see the Blueprint button on the Outlook toolbar which opens the following menu:

Blueprint 4 Outlook: Add-in menu

Three quick print options are available: printing out attachments, selection only, or the current item.

The look of your printed document depends on the selected template. These settings are located in Tools>Options MS Outlook.

Blueprint 4 Outlook: Options window

In the same window, you select buttons which you want to have displayed on the Outlook toolbar. You can also edit the template:

Blueprint 4 Outlook: Template manager

Blueprint 4 Outlook: Edit template

And set the printing options:

Blueprint 4 Outlook: Print options for template

Well, what can I say as a conclusion? Today, yet again, the absolute leader is the MAPILab plug-in, Print Tools for Outlook. No other printing plug-in can boast with such a perfect combination of a user-friendly interface, flexibility of settings and rich functionality.

Blueprint 4 Outlook could also deserve your attention, especially its vision of templates, if it were not for its quite unnaturally segmented versions.

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