Outlinker GUI

The OutLinker script for processing your Microsoft Outlook inbox into GTD next actions and MindManager links now has the default option of using a form instead of an input box as a user interface:

Outlinker Graphical User Interface

The installation program for the software is on the wiki.

This means you can now:

  • Interact with messages directly while program is running (e.g. scroll)
  • Use mouse to navigate and choose options in addition to using command line (a,s,p, etc still work)
  • Use additional check boxes and option buttons to set target date, etc (see image)
  • Send messages to the currently open map/selected topic using the “send now” check box (s2am command).
  • Open attachments — either directly or using the “open attachment” button (o command)

In particular this now makes it easy to set the transferred task as being owed to or form the sender or to be put on a “contact about” list for them (previously using olwf, olio, olca keywords at beginning of task).

The send now command can be handy if you want to keep your short-term items on a current map to work on during the day rather than send into your longer term GyroQ queue.

Note that the form communicates back to the main OutLinker program via the text box codes familiar to earlier users. The start up of the program is also about 2x faster now after some code optimization.


  1. Jose Miguel Bolivar said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 7:11 am

    Wow! That is a fantastic improvement. Still waiting for my company to migrate from Notes to Outlook but eager to start using OutLinker.

  2. ActivityOwner said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 10:58 am

    Thanks JM — You might consider using it at home/blog in connection with Gmail. I find it handy for that.

    Early adopters — please download latest version as I’ve found and fixed several bugs as I’ve moved from developer to user and the early feedback from down under has come in.

    I also revised the “send to active map” check box to be a “transfer” button. This button also gives you the option of sending to the active map or having mindreader choose the destination.

    I think this functionality will be helpful for those days when you don’t “trust your system” and are afraid to move items into a long queue/daily capture map. I also find it handy when I’m dealing with a group of messages related to a particular project to move them in real time and sort them out into information and next actions.

    The “gdelete” functionality is now embedded in the forms behavior. If you have configured to use gdelete, the delete key will actually delete and the archive will leave the message in gmail (not move to local pst).

  3. ActivityOwner said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 11:02 am

    I’ve started posting updates on twitter as new releases come out. If you are a twitter user following this might be a good way to follow updates rather than rss or email subscription. http://twitter.com/activityowner/

  4. ActivityOwner said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

    Note that the new (or newly visible) “I owe” functionality utilizes the “rmme” configuration variable. You can set this to your ResultsManager name. The default is “%me%”, which will work OK on personal maps but confuse shared group maps.

    There actually was a typo in MindReader code (until today) that configured this as %me instead of %me%. You need to either change that in mindreaderconfig.mmap or upgrade to latest version of MindReader, which will fix it for you.

  5. ActivityOwner said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 7:32 pm

    Two more bugs (reply button and gdelete warning) just fixed….

  6. Ron said,

    February 23, 2009 @ 9:47 am

    Well, on first blush I like the direction you are going. I have two minor issues:
    1) The installation script messed up my MM7 installation and I had to go back and reset my Referrences. I tried my usual manual install approach first but missed something – the form I think – and Outlinker crashed the first time I tried to run it. I gave in and tried the install script but that did not fully work either as it assumes you are using MM8. Regardless, all is well now.
    2) The focus does not consistently end up on the form. Sometimes it does and sometimes it ends up on the email you are processing. This is okay if you are a mouse user but it is very annoying if you are a keyboarder like me. You have to take you hand off the keyboard, click on the form and then go back to the keyboard. You cannot even Alt-Tab the focus to the form. I could not see any pattern as to when the focus would end up on the form and when it would not.


  7. ActivityOwner said,

    February 23, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

    Thank Ron — This is very useful feedback (full of next actions and projects).

    The installer’s vbaproject file is set with v8 references. Unfortunately users with v6 and v7 have to go in and check off the reference for the type library of version they are using. In order to get an install that works with v7 out of the box I’d need to get v7 installed on a machine and configure a vbaproject file from there. The installer would also need an upgrade to conditionally install one file or the other. Perhaps there is a way to change the reference programatically? We may have to live with this one for a bit.

    2) The early versions of outlinker had a simple form, but I gave up on trying to support it as it added complexity above simply pasting in the outlook macro. Now that it is key part of the program, I forgot to add the form file to the wiki to enable manual install for those that want to go that route. I’d been maintaining the outlinker macro more for reference purposes lately and forgot about the need for manual installs. The form and the macro need to be in sync so keeping that all in line will add some overhead. I’ll try to put it up tonight with some bug fixes.

    I agree the form focus is annoying. I haven’t found a command yet that will pull it forward. Any knowledge on this out there? Note that if you set “useform:0” in the settings the program will go back to using the old inputbox interface. Perhaps that could be added as a toggle command so that user could choose to use it on occasion.

    Personally I’m finding myself much more productive with the ability to quickly scroll messages, open attachments, and follow message hyperlinks while in the program. As a result I’m doing more 2-min actions rather than transferring to do them later. I was able to plow through a record 530 messages today (mostly bulk newsletters/vendor mail I’d been filtering out of my inbox with rules), so its productivity boost is worth the mouse focus hassle for the moment.

  8. ActivityOwner said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 7:30 am

    Note that the latest version has improved handling of “waiting for” names and also adds ability for addressee to be the “person” involved rather than the sender (good for working with sent items).

  9. Ron said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

    Thanks for the prompt and detailed response.

    There is an additional issue with the installer – any other Macros you have installed are blown away. I did have one small script installed that I am easily able to reinstall, so this is just a minor issue for me but it may not be so minor for others.

    I tried to do a manual install again but I am not that familiar with Outlook forms. When I tried to import the .frm file from the Wiki I received an error because the .frx file was missing. I see that you uploaded one but subsequently deleted it. I tried using a .frx file from the previous version of the form but that wasn’t too successful (duh!). So, I reverted back to the install script and reset everything manually after that.

    Everything is now working well and I really like the new features you are adding, especially the olto keyword. That has long been a pet peeve of mine.

    As for the form focus question, I do agree that the new form adds significant functionality which helps productivity. However, I am FAR faster with the keyboard than I am with a mouse and believe this is probably true for everyone once you learn the keyboard shortcuts.

  10. ActivityOwner said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    Hi Ron — Thanks for patience.

    re: macro — instructions warn about the “other macro” issue. There really is no simple way around that short of the manual install or a lot more programming expertise for serious add-in development.

    Sorry about the incomplete form upload. I got the impression the frx file was some type of supplementary file and not needed. It is uploaded now.

    I added a new undocumented (not that any of this is well documented :- ) feature for you — “oltf” will toggle back and forth from the form to input box. It currently skips over the current message along the way.

    I searched for a solution on the form focus issue. I’m not sure why it doesn’t grab focus in the first place, but there is no straightforward way to pull it to the front when it doesn’t. It can be done by digging deeper into operating system and including special dlls, but I’d rather not go there for now.

    There is a new version uploaded now with the form toggle. This one also has much improved name extraction for resource assignment. I’ve also changed the code so it doesn’t specify the MM version (one less thing to configure).

    I’ve made both forms consistent in that gmail (usegdelete) will archive (leave on server) and delete (remove from server) with a and d. “g” is going away.

  11. ActivityOwner said,

    February 26, 2009 @ 8:24 am

    There is a new version uploaded this morning. It does the resource assignment from the sender/addressee directly in the form rather than sending olwf, olio, etc. codes into the main macro. It also fixes a but opening attachments with spaces in file names. The extraction of names is also cleaned up quite a bit.

  12. ActivityOwner said,

    February 26, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

    New version uploaded that automatically checks the addressee box if you are the sender. This also disables the cancel button as this was leading to next action transfer rather than exit. Use the exit button.

  13. OutLink to your OutLook Task List and other new options » ActivityOwner.Com said,

    February 28, 2009 @ 12:01 pm

    […] new options have trickled into the OutLinker GUI interface as it has gotten some use. These are available in the latest download from the OutLinker […]

  14. Marco said,

    July 28, 2009 @ 10:19 am

    I just returned from vacation to find over 700 emails in my Inbox.
    One thing that jumps to mind is a button in Outlinker to archive/delete the complete thread. Is that something worth considering (yes, I know: evern more buttons min the GUI)

  15. ActivityOwner said,

    July 28, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

    Hi Marco — I’m hesitant to create a thread deletion button due to the branching nature of threads and likelihood of early entries having attachments that need to be retained. I am also a bit lazy and very pleased to have the tool relatively stable for several months :-)

    What I have done is create top level macros (archive and delete) that you can drag onto your outlook toolbar in addition to the outlinker button. These allow you to select 1 or more messages from outlook and archive or delete in one click rather than running through them individually within the outlinker interface.

    Using the “delete” macro rather than the regular delete allows your counters to increment.

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