Qlockwork Time Tracking for Outlook Tips – How We Tell When You are Away

Qlockwork is a tool for automatically tracking time spent at your PC in Microsoft Outlook. We are often asked if Qlockwork just always tracks your open applications or if it can tell which application you are working on and whether you are actively working on it or away from your PC having a coffee!

The good news is that Qlockwork can tell and it only tracks the application you are actively working on. It does this by talking directly to Windows using something called the WinAPI (Windows Application Programming Interface). Through this Qlockwork can talk to your mouse and your keyboard to find out if you are still there and which applications you are using, so it just tracks the time you are active.

If you’d like to know more, just give Qlockwork a try, it’s very quick and easy to set up.

Qlockwork Time Tracking Tips, How To Find Lost Files

Sometimes you just forget the folder where you filed a Microsoft Word document or Excel spreadsheet. That’s not too bad unless you’ve also forgotten the name of the file! Fortunately Qlockwork can help you find out the name of the file. But let’s start with the simple situation where you remember the name.

You Know the Filename

If you know the name of a missing file you can find it with Windows search. In Windows 7 go to the search box in the start menu and just enter the name of your lost file:

How to search for files on Windows 7

Windows will display all the matching files, emails etc.. on your PC.

In Windows 8 you can search by just typing straight onto the Start screen.  A search box will appear on the right. By default Windows 8 searches apps. To search for files instead click on “Files” in the right hand menu.

You Don’t Know the Filename

If you have forgotten the file name then things get a little trickier. Fortunately Qlockwork can help.

  • Go to Qlockwork and choose “View Activities in a List”

List all activities in Outlook and sort by type

  • Now click on the top of the “Type” column.
  • This will sort your activities by application in alphabetical order.
  • If you are looking for a Word document, scroll down to type = “Microsoft Word”.
  • Qlockwork will list every Word document you have worked on, in date order.

List of all the Microsoft Word Documents you have worked on

  • You can now look down the list until you find the document you are looking for. If you know roughly when you worked on the file that will help narrow the search because the files are listed in order of when you worked on them.
  • You can use the same technique to find missing Excel spreadsheets. Just scroll down to Type = Microsoft Excel. You can use this technique to find any file, as long as you know what application you would have used it in.

Once you have found the name of your missing file, you can use Windows search (see above) to find where you saved it.

Outlook 2010 tips, How To Delay Sending Emails In Outlook

In our last post we showed you how to automatically reply to emails in Outlook using rules. In this post we’ll look at how to delay sending certain emails. We can then combine these 2 techniques into a way to send automated replies with a delay.

The downside is we can only introduce a delay of 120 minutes using standard Outlook rules. To delay longer than that we need to do something a little more involved, we’ll cover that in a future post.

We can introduce a simply delay in sending emails to all or just specific emails using standard Outlook rules.

  •  Start to create an email rule as normal by going to Home->Rules->Manage Rules and Alerts

manage rules and alerts

  • Click on “New Rule”
  • Under “Start from a blank rule” select “Apply rule to messages I send” and hit Next

apply rule to emails I send

  • Now select a criteria, for example emails to a specific person or with a specific subject and hit Next
  • For the action check “Defer Delivery by a number of minutes”
  • Then click on the “a number of” link in the Step 2 section
  • In the popup, specify how many minutes you want to defer delivery (up to 120) and press OK

select number of minuites to defer email

  • Click Next to continue and then enter any exceptions and click Next again
  • Finally, name your rule and hit Finish

You now have a client-side rule that will defer the delivery of any emails you send according to a rule (recipient, subject etc..)

This is all fairly basic, though useful.

You may wish to combine this technique and the one described in the last post ( how to automatically reply to emails in Outlook using rules) to automatically send follow up emails after a delay. For example, if you receive an email automatically when someone downloads a whitepaper from your site, you may wish to send an automated reply after 60 minutes asking them how they are getting on. This would give them time to look at the whitepaper before you contact them.

Alternatively you could just use this technique to put a delay on sending any emails to your boss to ensure you have chance for second thoughts ;-)  Let’s call it a cooling off period ;-)


Outlook 2010 tips, How to Automatically Reply to Emails using a Rule

Setting up a client-side rule to automatically reply to received emails is very easy in Outlook.

  • First of all, we need to create a reply template. Open a new email message as normal and fill it out as you want your reply email to look.

Email reply template

  • Now save this as a template by choosing File->Save As on the email and selecting to Save as type: “Outlook Template”

saving an email as a template

  • This will save the template into the default Outlook template folder. Just remember the name of the template file you have created. You can now close your email and you don’t need to save it as a draft, you already have your template.
  • Now go back to your main Outlook window. Start to create an email rule as normal by going to Home->Rules->Manage Rules and Alerts

manage rules and alerts

  • Click on “New Rule”
  • Under “Start from a blank Rule” select “Apply rule to messages I receive” and hit Next

Outlook start from a blank rule

  • Choose your criteria (emails from a specific person or with a specific subject, for example) and hit Next
  • For the action select “Reply using a specific template”

Choose reply action for Outlook rule

  • Now in the Step 2 section click on “a specific template”

Select a template for an email reply

  •  Choose “User Templates in System” from the Look in dropdown

choose user template

  • Now choose the email reply template you created right at the start and click Open

select your template

  • You should now return to the rules wizard and see your template has been populated in the Step 2 section. Hit Next
  • Add any exceptions you want and hit Next
  • Finally name the rule and Hit Finish

name your rule

You have now created a rule that will automatically reply to specific received emails straight away with the text you want.

In our next post we’ll be looking at ways to delay your email reply. After that we’ll look at ways to personalise the reply.





Windows 8 tips, How to Turn Off your PC in Windows 8

How do you turn off Windows 8? The easiest thing to do is press CTRL+ALT+DEL and Windows will show you a screen where you can choose to “Lock”, “Switch User” or “Sign out”.

In the bottom right of this screen is an on/off switch icon. Press that to switch off. I may find other ways, but this works.

Window 8 Tips, How to Customize the Windows 8 Start Screen

In our last-but-one post we talked about how to cheaply and rapidly install Microsoft Windows 8 (how to upgrade to Windows 8). In the next few posts I’m going to talk about how to make Windows 8 more usable in a work environment.

The first thing you’ll notice about Windows 8 is the start screen. This is what you have instead of the nice discrete Start menu from earlier Windows versions.

Microsoft Windows 8 Start Screen

I don’t want news stories popping up on my work PC. Life is already too distracting! So, I’m going to personalize and clean up my Windows 8 Start screen.

  • The first thing I want to do is remove or “unpin” some tiles.
  • I want to get rid of all the ones that flash unnecessary info at me.
  • I position my mouse over the tile I want to remove and right click. A menu appears at the base of the screen. I click on “Unpin from Start”.Customizing the Windows 8 Start Screen
  • I unpin all the unnecessary tiles to leave me with a cleaner start screen.
  • This doesn’t uninstall the applications, but it does take them off my start screen.

Now I have a smaller number of tiles on my Start screen but I want to arrange them better. I just click on a tile and drag it where I want. If you hit “Enter” on the Start Screen then Windows 8 will execute the top left hand tile. I want this to be the desktop because I’ll go there most frequently, so I drag the desktop tile to the top left position.

Nearly empty Windows 8 start screen

Now I want to add some of my commonly used applications to the Start screen so I can launch them quickly like I used to do with the start menu.

  • In the Start Screen I right click with my mouse.
  • A menu appears across the bottom of the screen. In the far right corner it says “All apps”.

Find all your applications from Windows 8 Start screen

  • Clicking on “All apps” shows me all my installed applications.
  • I mouse over the application I want to add to my Start screen and right click.
  • A menu appears at the base of the screen. I click “Pin to Start”

Add new applications to the Windows 8 Start screen

Now I have a clean Start screen and I can easily move to the desktop by hitting “Enter” or by clicking on any of my commonly used application tiles, which launch the application on my desktop. I can get back to the start screen by hitting the Windows key or mousing over the bottom left of the screen and clicking on the start screen thumbnail that appears (see How to get back to the Start screen in Windows 8). Not bad for now.

My Custom Windows 8 Start Screen

At Qlockwork we’re Outlook and Windows developers with a keen interest in office productivity and usability. To find out more about how you use your time on your PC, try the Qlockwork free trial. Qlockwork automatically tracks how you spend your PC time.


Windows 8 Tips, How to Get Back to the Start Screen

After spending several fruitless minutes trying to get back from an application to the start screen in Windows 8. Here are 2 things that seem to work:

  1. In any view, hover your mouse over the very bottom left of screen (where the start menu used to be). A thumbnail of the start screen will appear. Click on it and you return to the start screen.
  2. Press the Windows key on your keyboard (The key with the wobbly Windows icon). That also seems to return you to the Start screen.

If you are interested in tracking how much time you spend in Windows applications, try our Qlockwork time tracking add-in for Outlook.


The Cheapest and Quickest Way to Buy and Install Windows 8

Microsoft Windows 8 is now out! Let’s buy it and  install it as cheaply as possible on an old PC.

Microsoft Windows 8 Start Screen

According to Microsoft we can upgrade an old XP, Vista or Window 7 PC to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99 (or $69.99 if we want the CDs) plus sales tax.

I’m going to skip the CDs and go for the cheapest and fastest option of $39.99 and download the software directly to my PC.

  • First thing to check is that my old PC is powerful enough to run Windows 8. According to Microsoft, the Windows 8 requirements are:
    • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2
    • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB  (64-bit)
    • Hard disk space:  16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
    • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
  • These aren’t very tough requirements and our 3 year old XP PC meets them easily.
  • You can check the processor and RAM on your PC by going to Start->Control Panel->System

Windows System

  • You can check the graphics card by going to the PC’s Start menu and in the “Run” box entering “dxdiag” (without the quotes) then hitting OK. The System tab will tell you your DirectX Version.

dxdiag screen on Windows

  • If in doubt, you can always just try running the upgrader and see if it complains.
  • Before we start, if there is anything you care about or want to keep on your PC (files, photos etc..) BACK THEM UP NOW on a separate device.
  • My next step is to go to the Microsoft site Windows 8 buy page (Microsoft Windows 8 upgrade buy page).
  • I do this using IE on the PC I want to upgrade.
  • On the Microsoft purchase page, I click on the green button to Download Pro for $39.99

Download WIndows 8

  • I’m asked if I want to save or run the upgrader. I choose Run
  • I’m then asked if Microsoft has permission to do stuff on my PC, I say Yes.
  • Now the dark blue Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant runs for ages “Checking apps and devices”….
  • Eventually it gives me a list of all the applications that I have installed that are not compatible with Windows 8. I decide can live without these applications so I hit Next.
  • The next thing I am asked is what files I want to keep on my PC. I don’t care about keeping any files on this PC so I select “Nothing” and hit Next.
  • On the next screen I’m prompted to buy Windows 8 in my local currency (that’s £24.99 because I’m in the UK, plus Sales Tax or “VAT” in the UK). I click the Order button to buy.
  • I proceed through the checkout and choose the 2GB download without the DVD.
  • Once I’ve finished and bought the upgrade, Microsoft sends me an email with my product key and the upgrader starts downloading the new OS onto the PC I am upgrading. That’s going to take a while, so time for a coffee!
  • Once the download is complete, the uploader asks me if I want to install the OS now or later. I choose now.
  • I’m asked if I want to proceed with my settings (install now, save no files). I choose yes and the install continues. I’m warned this may take some time. Time to do something else for a while and come back.
  • After a couple of reboots I’m asked to choose a colour scheme and a name for the PC, I do so and click Next.
  • On the next screen I choose the “Express Settings” and click Next.
  • On the next screen I enter my email address and click Next.
  • On the next screen I enter a password for my Microsoft account (I already have a Microsoft account so I use that password) and hit Next.
  • On the next screen I enter my phone number for password recovery and hit Next.
  • After a few more minutes of churning away with no further questions it’s done! Windows 8 is installed successfully and quite painlessly.

Of course, Windows 8 doesn’t really feel like Windows and I hate the lack of a start menu. Next post will be about how to navigate around Windows 8 with no start menu to use…

At Qlockwork we are Outlook and Windows developers with a keen interest in productivity. If you want to find out how you spend you time at your PC why not give a free trial to Qlockwork, our time tracking software for Office and Outlook. Try it free for 10 days from our downloads page.


Microsoft Outlook 2010 Tips, How to Run a VBA Macro on New Emails

VBA (or Visual Basic for Applications) is the easy programming language that all Microsoft Office applications provide so that you can add extra function into Office. It’s very useful.

To find out how to enable VBA, set your security settings correctly and create a simple Macro see Microsoft Outlook tips, how to enable vba and use macros in Outlook

Once you have created a Macro, it is easy to have it trigger when a specific new email arrives in your inbox using Outlook Rules. First you need to create a Macro that takes an email as an input. To do this:

Open the visual basic editor in Microsoft Outlook 2010

  • Now create a macro that takes a mailItem as a parameter. See ExampleMacro2 below. ExampleMacro2 is a simple macro that displays a popup message if an email is flagged as important

Example VBA macro for Microsoft Outlook 2010

You can create this by cutting and pasting the code below into  the Visual Basic Editor:

Sub ExampleMacro2(MyMail As MailItem)
On Error GoTo Qlockwork_err
    ‘ COMMENT: create a namespace, Outlook  almost always needs this
    Dim ns As NameSpace
    Set ns = GetNamespace(“MAPI”)

    ‘ COMMENT: Check if the supplied email is flagged as important
    If MyMail.Importance = olImportanceHigh Then
       ‘COMMENT: display a message box indicating email is important
       MsgBox “This is an important email!”
    End If

‘ COMMENT: Clean up after ourselves
    Set ns = Nothing
    Exit Sub
‘ Handle errors
    MsgBox “An unexpected error has occurred.”
    Resume Qlockwork_exit
End Sub

  • Now save amd compile this macro (File->Save, then Debug->Compile)
  • Now we need to link this macro to an Outlook rule. Go to the Home Tab and Select Rules->Manage Rules and Alerts

Microsoft Outlook 2010 Manage Rules and Alerts

  • Select “New Rule”

Create new rule in Outlook

  • Select Blank Rule Applied for new messages I receive and hit next

Create a blank rule for newly received messages in Outlook

  • Choose your criteria for triggering the macro, for example messages from your boss or a colleague and hit next

Select rule criteria

  • Next, check the action “Run a script”. This is the action that links a rule with a VBA macro.

Associate a macro with a rule in Outlook 2010

  • In the “Step 2″ window click on “a script” to assign  the script and then pick your macro from the dropdown and hit OK

Choose the Macro to assign to a rule in Outlook 2010

  • Now set any exclusions (lets say none), assign a name and click finish and OK to save

Now your macro is linked to a rule. Try it and see, when you get a new email from whoever (your boss or your colleague) you should get a popup if it is marked as important.

Obviously, that isn’t particularly impressive because the ExampleMacro2 doesn’t do that much. In the next post we’ll look at creating more powerful macros to assign to rules.

At Qlockwork we are Outlook developers with a keen interest is making your PC time more productive. If you want to find out how much time you currently spend in Outlook, or any other application, then try the Qlockwork free trial from our downloads page. Qlockwork automatically works out exactly how you spend your time on your PC.


Microsoft Outlook 2010 Tips, How to Enable the Developer Tab and Use VBA and Macros

VBA (or Visual Basic for Applications) is the easy programming language that all Microsoft Office applications provide so that you can add extra function into Office. It’s very useful.

Before you can use VBA, you need to tell Outlook you want to do so. You do that by enabling the Developer Tab. In Outlook 2010  you can enable the developer tab very easily as follows:

  • On the File tab, choose Options to open the Outlook Options dialog box.

select options for Microsoft Outlook 2010

  • Click Customize Ribbon on the left side of the dialog box.

Customize the ribbon on Microsoft Outlook 2010

  • Under Choose commands from on the left side of the dialog box,
    select Popular Commands.
  • Under Customize the ribbon on the right side of the dialog box, select Main tabs, and then select the Developer check box.

Enable the developer tab on Microsoft Outlook 2010

  • Click OK.

You should now see the developer tab on the main Outlook 2010 ribbon:

Developer tab in Microsoft Outlook 2010

Once you have the Developer tab in Outlook 2010, you can start creating macros. Macros are little bits of code that you can write to do some pretty sophisticated stuff in Outlook. To create a Macro, click on Macros on the Developer Tab

Create a VBA Macro in Microsoft Outlook 2010

Now enter a macro name and press “Create”

Example Macro Outlook 2010

You can create macros to do loads of things. The macro below will just say “hello world”

Basic Outlook 2010 Macro - Hello World


Here’s the code you can cut n paste in:

Sub ExampleMacro()
On Error GoTo Qlockwork_err
    ‘ COMMENT: create a namespace, Outlook usually needs this
    Dim ns As NameSpace
    Set ns = GetNamespace(“MAPI”)

    ‘ COMMENT: Say Hi
    MsgBox “Hello world!”

‘ COMMENT: Clean up after ourselves
    Set ns = Nothing
    Exit Sub
‘ Handle errors
    MsgBox “An unexpected error has occurred.”
    Resume Qlockwork_exit
End Sub

Once you have created your macro, save it using the save button then click Debug->Compile Project to compile it (basically get it ready to run)

How to compile an outlook 2010 VBA macro

Then you can test it by choosing run->run:

Run a macro in Outlook 2010 to test it

At this point you’ll probably see a security error. You have 2 choices:

  • you can digitally sign the macro (Tools->Digital Signature) if you have a code signing certificate
  • alternatively, just go to Macro Security on the Developer Tab:

View Outlook 2010 Macro Security Settings

  • then set the security to “Notify” on all macros (from notify on all signed macros) click OK and restart Outlook.

Change macro security settings on Outlook 2010

  • Don’t forget to restart Outlook after doing this.

This simple macro is not very useful in itself but it shows you the basic operations of a macro. For more on macros see Outlook 2010 tips, how to run a simple macro on all new emails

At Qlockwork, Outlook development is what we do, so we are big fans. We are also big fans of automating things you do every day and saving time. Tasks you do all the time in Outlook really add up over the years. If you can write macros to do stuff for you, they’ll make you much more efficient!

If you want to find out how much time you currently spend in Outlook or any other Windows application then try the Qlockwork free trial from our Downloads page. Qlockwork automatically works out exactly how you spend your time on your PC.