Jul
29

5 Outlook plug-ins to send automatic CC /BCC copies in Outlook 2007, 2003 – 2000

Today I’d like to focus on a service that lies in the cradle of the Internet. I’m speaking about E-mail, that has become in indispensable part of today’s business and the work of any company from the mega-corporation to small business enterprise is inconceivable without it.

In this review I’ll dig into the problem that is very typical for companies and firms. Say, you want to be in the know of the Outlook e-mail correspondence of your employees with clients. Or, you work in a support team that has a shared e-mail account, so you need to know if this or that request from a customer has been replied to or not, so that you can avoid situations what one e-mail is responded twice.

Well, you can easily say, why to invent the bicycle if Outlook has the built-in CC / BCC function. But on closer examination, we will see that it has too many limitations:

  1. Every time you need to send a copy of an e-mail (carbon copy or blind carbon copy), you have to enter CC / BCC e-mail addresses manually. Seems easy enough, but not if you have hundreds e-mails daily. Or, you can make use of the built-in Outlook Rules and Alerts wizard to create rules for outgoing messages, mind, only CC rules are allowed.
  2. The BCC field is hidden by default.
  3. To create rules to automate sending BCC copies is impossible in Outlook.

So, today we will look closely at Outlook add-ins that allow creating an automatic BCC (blind carbon copy) or / and a CC (carbon copy) in Outlook 2007 – 2000. As usually, on the top of the list we will put the ratio of functionality, usability and price. So, intuitive interface, simplicity and flexibility of settings – how wonderful it would be to have all this in one plug-in. Well, let’s try to find it. 

Today we will review the following e-mail add-ins for sending Outlook BCC / CC copies automatically: Message Autofill from MAPILAB (this plug-in is part of MAPILAB toolbox), Hidden BCC from Wired Box, Auto BCC\CC from Ablebits, and SilentMail for Outlook from Digital Software Development SRL.

Name of the add-in Vendor Outlook versions supported Price Trial available
Message AutoFill MAPILab Ltd. 2007, 2003, 2002/XP, 2000 $24.00 Yes
Silent Mail Digital Software Development SRL 2003, 2002 (XP), 2000 $39.95 Yes
Auto BCC / CC AbleBits 2007, 2003, 2002, 2000 $29.95 Yes
HiddenBCC Wired Box 2003, 2002 (XP), 2000 $3.50 Yes
Always BCC Sperry Software 2007, 2003, 2002, 2000 $24.95 No

Message Autofill from Mapilab

On running the installation wizard we see the customary for Mapilab’s plug-ins window asking to select the installation type: for one or all users of the PC:

Immediately after running Outlook, you will see the Mapilab Toolbox wizard. It looks absolutely justified if to take into consideration that their Outlook collection contains 18 different plug-is. However, this is the advantage for the collection, and we are reviewing only the Message Autofill plug-in:

The Wizard will show you where to find all add-ins of the collection upon installation. This can be considered an asset of the Message Autofill add-in for Outlook itself:

You can enable the needed add-in through the Options menu item:

The selected add-ins will become available in Outlook.

This e-mail plug-in allows you to create your custom rules but it differs a bit from the work with standard Outlook rules. Message Autofill binds the rule to a certain Outlook folder. Created rules will be automatically applied to the “From”, “To”, “CC”, “Subject” fields for different Microsoft Outlook folders. This seems an excellent solution if you, say, work with several clients or just keep your e-mail correspondence in order. The main window of the Autofill add-in has the following look:

Here you set or edit rules. The other tab, Folders, is used for managing your Outlook folders which is evident from its name :-)

So, what is my impression of this e-mail add-in: efficient managing of rules like you get used to in Outlook is not possible. Rules are bound to folders, so only one rule can be bound to the folder and you need to keep in memory which rule is associated with this or that folder. No other options are available: you cannot set a rule for the To, CC, BCC, Subject field etc.

In all other respects the add-in leaves quite pleasant impression, but again it’s up to you to decide if you need their whole collection (Message Autofill is sold as part of the Mapilab Toolbox) and if the idea of binding rules to folders is acceptable for you. The big advantage of this plug-in is that the CC and BCC fields are filled in right when you start writing a new message. So, you can always remove CC or BCC address in case you don’t want them in this particular e-mail.

Silent Mail from Digital Software Development SRL

The Silent Mail is designed for secret monitoring of Outlook outgoing e-mail. It will send automatic BCC copies of all outgoing messages to the indicated e-mail address.

It’s very pleasant that more and more developers begin to understand that there may be more than one user of the PC:

The next step of the installation took me by surprise. Is it really just the installation stage? Yes, it is, and is confirmed by the corresponding icon at the upper right corner of the screen:

Right off the bat indeed. To tell you the truth this is the first case in my practice when I have to select the settings of the add-in right at the installation stage. I am sure you know that the host application should be closed when the add-in is being installed, installation wizards of many plug-ins will remind you about it. Naturally my Outlook was closed.

However, the attempt to postpone setting of the add-in failed.

Well, enter a simple template ( name@domain.com) and proceed further:

As shown in the screenshot above, you can choose from 3 different setup types which in fact have only tiny differences.

Well, it turned out the only feature if Silent Mail is the add-in itself.
The last screen of the installation wizard bewildered me a little:

So, as it should be for a secret e-mail monitoring add-in, Silent Mail is invisible on my PC. However, let’s keep in mind that add-ins installed for all users of the PC (not registered in the current user branch) will not be in the COM Add-ins list. What if we install the add-in for the current user?

The first thing we see after running Outlook is this error message:

Silent Mail still is not in the COM Add-ins list. Another serious drawback of this add-in is that it doesn’t support Outlook 2007. The supported Outlook versions are 2000, 2002 (XP) and 2003.

So my conclusion: this add-in can become an indispensable tool of secret monitoring of Outgoing e-mail. The scrutinized user will hardly ever detect its presence on his / her PC. The only thing that raises questions is the option of installing the add-in for one particular user: in this case to hide the add-in is impossible.

Auto BCC / CC for Outlook from AbleBits

The Auto BCC / CC for Outlook is available through Tools in the main Outlook menu:

Unlike other add-ins reviewed above this plug-in allows you to create your own rules for sending CC / BCC copies automatically and easily manage them in the way you like:

The process of creating and editing the rules is wizard-based and looks very much like creating a standard Outlook rule but with far more options:

So, here you can set all parameters, such as: account, subject, attachment name, To, CC and BCC. When setting the CC and BCC fields you will be taken to your address book where you can comfortably select and add the contacts needed:

Later you can always edit your rules:

You can set the rule in the way that BCC / CC copies will be sent for all outgoing emails, or for e-mail sent from a certain account only, or to the specified addresses only, or if the subject line or the attachment name contains particular words, etc. If you select For All Outgoing E-mails, BCC or CC copies will be sent for all outgoing messages whether it is a new e-mail, an email reply or a forwarded message.

If can enter different destination e-mail addresses for BCC (blind carbon copy) and CC (carbon copy). Or use just one of these options. In other words, you can choose what is the best for you.

Clicking on the “Help” button opens an excellent help system with lots of screenshots. And, the last but not the least Auto BCC / CC for Outlook supports Outlook 2007 as well as Outlook 2003, Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2000.

Also, it should be mentioned that the Auto BCC add-in comes together with the free Administration tool that is worth special attention. By using the Administration tool you can protect the rules set by you with password:

The Administration tool provides one more option: it allows hiding the Auto BCC plug-in so that it will operate like Silent Mail:

Hidden BCC from WiredBox

This Hidden BCC add-in sends a copy of all outgoing messages in Outlook to a predefined e-mail address(s). The only limitation of the trial version is regularly appearing reminder asking to register the add-in. As stated of the vendor’s web-site, with this add-in you can always be sure that every outgoing message is sent to a reviewer or it goes to a special archiving e-mail address.

But what if this particular e-mail is not intended for the reviewer? In case with the Silent Mail the matter is absolutely clear, its “espionage” nature is evident. Unfortunately, the developers of the Hidden BCC add-in don’t provide any other settings but for the destination e-mail and logging:

In the COM Add-ins list, the Hidden BCC is easily seen:

You can adjust the add-in in the process of installation. In Outlook, Hidden BCC settings are not available. The same as Silent Mail this plug-in supports Outlook 2000, 2002 (XP) and 2003 only. I think the developers should hurry up, Outlook 2007 was released more than 6 months ago.

At the end of our today’s review I’d like to draw your attention to one more Outlook add-in that unfortunately doesn’t have a trial version. It is Always BCC from Sperry Software. In spite of the fact that its full-value testing is impossible before the purchase I recommend it yet as one more add-in that allows setting filtering rules for sending CC / BCC messages. As far as I can see in the screenshot, this add-in doesn’t have the rules wizard, and I can assume that only one rule can be set. But, remember it’s just an assumption since the add-in has no trial.

This add-in also supports all Microsoft Outlook versions: Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2002 and 2000. One license of Always BCC costs $24.95.

Thus, all actually depends on your needs. If you need to secretly monitor all correspondence of your employees and nothing else, the Silent Mail add-in is the best option. If you want to CC / BCC your outgoing e-mail selectively, or need to organize effective processing of email inside your company or work group, you’d better choose Auto BCC from Ablebits. The Auto BCC add-in also will allow you to try on the James Bond role should you wish it. The Message Autofill from Mapilab offers its own approach to sending BCC /CC copies but is sold as part of the Outlook collection only. If you need all or part of their plug-ins, that will be a good deal. From the viewpoint of comfort of work, usability and efficiency, the best choice is Auto CC/BCC from Ablebits. The add-in allows a wide variety of rue setting that can be easily adjusted to your very needs.

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