Oct
12

Easy way to manage email attachments – reduce the Outlook PST file size

Today we are going to review a group of add-ins purposed for automating the work with Microsoft Outlook attachments. Such solutions may be useful mostly for those who send and receive lots of various attachments on a daily basis. For example, if you regularly receive dozens of attachments (say, from branches of your firm, or from other departments), then it may take quite a lot of your previous time to organize them into some sort of system. I believe you could aim your efforts at something more productive than digging across Outlook folders for the attachment you need and tormenting its Find again and again. I suggest commissioning all such tasks to Outlook add-ins specially designed for storing and managing email attachments.

Add-in Version Developer Price Supports
Attachments Processor for Outlook 4.2 Mapilab $24 Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003 and 2007.
EZDetach for Microsoft Outlook 5.5 TechHit $39.97 Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002 (with Service Pack 2), 2003 and 2007.
DetachPipe 5.3.5 Datamystic $29.95 Microsoft Outlook 98, 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003 and 2007.

Attachments Processor for Outlook 4.2 from MAPILab

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2007, 2003, 2002/XP, 2000
  • Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista.

Attachments Processor for Outlook web-site

The installation wizard provides a few options for customizing the add-in to your liking. Besides choosing the installation folder, three languages of the user interface are available (English, German and Russian), and installation for one or all users of the PC:

Customer information
For this review I used a fully-functional trial version which is available for download here. The only limitation is a 30-day evaluation period.

Also, you won’t have to bother of where to find the add-in in your Outlook upon installation. Its location will be shown beforehand at one of the steps of the welcome wizard:

Location

Considering the main destination of the Attachment Processor: to ease the work with attachments, the integration of the add-in’s settings into the Outlook options seems very logical:

Options

I think you would agree that it’s very convenient to be able to set all parameters in one place rather than rush here and there, just like when you are shopping, it’s a pleasure to find all you need in one big store. With regard to Attachment Processor, you can access its settings using the Outlook options dialog or by just clicking on its toolbar.

Main menu
As you can see on the screenshot above, a click on the Options button opens the settings window. The first tab, General, allows selecting the folder for storing processed attachments, as well as the Outlook folders that you want to process. The options of automatic message processing and applying the rule to all incoming e-mail messages are also available.

By default, the add-in will store all attachments to the folder specified on the General tab, but you can group stored attachments by subject, folder name, sender data, counter and system or message date based format.

The path to the stored attachments is shown in the Output folder sample field.

Folders properties
The Files folder is intended for renaming messages. The screenshot below shows how to get your attachments renamed automatically using the Counter format:

Files properties

However, if you prefer to work with data that are more comprehensible than numbers, MAPILab (the developer of this plug-in) provides a large variety of such ways:
File naming properties

You can group attachments by sender name, sender e-mail, massage subject, system date format, message date format, counter format, and advanced format.

File naming sample
The advanced format is like construction models, it allows you to construct practically any file name using a standard set of fields provided by developers:

Attachment file naming variables

With this approach, by having just a quick look at the attachment file name, you can easily understand what it is and what e-mail message it was taken from. The following variables are available: Message date, Date, Subject, Sender Name, Sender e-mail, Recipient name, Recipient e-mail, Message folder, Full filename, Extension, Counter. Such set will be more than just enough for the most sophisticated senarios.

The Filters tab allows you to set the rules for processing and storing attachments.
Filters properties

You can also set the minimum and maximum file size, “if subject contains” and “if attachment name contains” fields, and create sender / recipients lists using the Outlook address book.

Attachment Processor has a built-in scheduler, available on the tab of the same name.

You can set time, days of week and types of messages (all, read, or unread) for the created rule:
Scheduler properties

The next tab will allow you to automate archiving of processed and saved attachments. You can also protect your archives with password:
Archiving properties

The Actions tab is responsible for actions performed with messages that contain attachments. The following options are available: mark message as read, mark with flag, assign to a certain category, save or move to a certain folder. Setting all these parameters once will allow you to avoid any mess or confusion in future.

Actions properties

The Other tab will require your attention if you are ready to start using the add-in in the advanced mode. So far we used the settings of Attachment Processor in the framework of creating one global rule in MS Outlook. In the Advanced mode you can create any number of attachment policies, and switch easily between them. The core of your work with rules is very similar to creating any other rules and profiles in Microsoft Outlook:
Other properties

The About button, as usual, tells you the current version number and the license type:
About button

For those who have run into any difficulties with Attachment Processor settings, there is an excellent built-in Help system.

EZDetach for Microsoft Outlook from TechHit

Supports:

  • Outlook 2000, 2002 (with SP2), 2003, 2007.
  • Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista.

EZDetach for Microsoft Outlook web-site

Even though the installation of this plug-in went smoothly, to figure out how to find it in Outlook, you will need either an exceptional keenness of observation or opening the Tools menu:

Menu items

The space of the Outlook toolbar where all newly installed add-ins are usually accommodated turned out empty. In the COM Add-ins list, EZDetach didn’t appear either. At last, I did notice its icon (marked in color in the screenshot below):
Setup destination folder

Such placement can hardly be considered felicitous. This area is already badly overloaded with standard Outlook buttons, and it’s not so easy to notice a new gadget there. What is more, the button is placed on the right side, which is a totally opposite direction from where the user normally looks for the add-ins’ icons.
Clicking on that icon opens the window you see in the screenshot below. A click on the Options button opens the other part of the window:

Options

As seen in the screenshot, here you are provided with options for setting the rules and order of file naming and subfolder naming. The After Saving Attachment option allows you at your wish to remove processed attachments from e-mails, execute some application (set in the Execute option) and zip or unzip the attachment. The creation of several rules or profiles for processing attachments is not supported. The drawback of this add-in is the lack of filters, the only one available is “If attachment name contains”. So, you will not be able to set a selective processing of e-mail depending on the sender name, message date, subject, etc.

The Advanced Options panel gives you access to some additional settings. Here are some that could be of real use: saving attachments from embedded messages, adding the sender information to the saved attachment file, processing images in html messages.
Advanced options

DetachPipe 5.3.5 from Datamystic

Supports:

  • Outlook 98, 2000, 2002, XP, 2003, 2007.
  • Microsoft Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, 2003 and Vista.

DetachPipe for Outlook web-site

The installation process will not bring any surprises to you: all is standard, with no problems. After walking through the installation stage, run Outlook straight away. The add-in’s toolbar appears on the right of the MS Outlook toolbar. Though, in case of DetachPipe, it is a full-value toolbar, not just a mini-icon:
Add-in menu items

Before starting the work, you need to select working folders. A click on the Process a set of folders menu item will bring the following dialog:
Select folders for attachment saving

For your work with attachments you can use existing Outlook folders or create new ones. Processing of both incoming and outgoing attachments is supported.

DetachPipe can boast with quite an interesting function purposed to make easier for Outlook users to send attachment files of bid size:

Online attachment saving service

When you use this function, your e-mails will be sent through the DetachPipe server. At this, if the e-mail account of the recipient doesn’t support the size of the attachment sent by you, the addressee will get just a link to the attachment. So, he can download and view it using any available internet browser, bypassing any restraints of the e-mail. For DetachPipe customers, they provide 10mb of free space on their server. The service of creating and registering the account is also free. In addition, you can always find out whether your attachment was viewed or just deleted by the receiver.

Attachment Save from Sperry Software

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2000.

Attachment Save for Outlook web-site

Besides the three add-ins above, (the availability of a trial version was considered an indispensable factor), you can also have a look at Attachment Save from Sperry Software. This plug-in works with all Outlook versions from Microsoft Outlook 2007 through Outlook 2000. Unfortunately, I was not able to see it in action, because they don’t provide a trial, and we’ll have to settle for the information provided by the vendor.

So, the Attachment Save places its toolbar in Outlook. Its main window has the following look:

Main window
Automatic processing of any Outlook folder is available. Also, there is a simple filter with 4 customizable parameters: subject match, filename match, from match and attachment size.

Options

You can rename saved attachments, mark an e-mail as read or unread, delete it or execute some program, say, to archive the attachment or to protect it with password.

  Attachments Processor for Outlook EZDetach for Microsoft Outlook DetachPipe
Installation 5 of 5 4 of 5 4 of 5
Usability 5 of 5 4 of 5 5 of 5
Functionality 5 of 5 4 of 5 4 of 5
Total 5 4 4.5

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