The best features in Outlook 2010 are not social network updates or threaded conversations, though those are invaluable. The best features are the little-noticed “Clean Up” and “Ignore”. In 2008 on this very blog I pined for official versions of these features’ early incarnations, Thread Compressor and Thread Killer. Now that these features have made it into the consumer product, I can show you what they do and you will wonder what you ever did without them!
You know how threads can go on and on but you don’t want to delete all of the messages but the most recent because the conversation could have forked or you could lose valuable attachments? Well the Clean Up button solves that problem. It moves all messages in a thread to a specified location (defaulted to the Deleted Items folder) if they are already contained in the thread elsewhere. So it will keep the stray forked messages and the messages that contain attachments, but delete the rest of the duplicated messages. If you are hesitant to run it on your important inbox messages, you can at least run it on folders that contain messy mailing list messages or archives of old messages. And the space you save – breathtaking! I love watching my inbox count go from 78 to 12 in an instant.
Isn’t it irritating when you find yourself on a long thread that has nothing to do with you? Now instead of deleting it, you can Ignore it. Ignoring the thread will automatically delete all previous and subsequent messages you receive. Take that, Canon vs. Nikon holy war! My coworker, Omar Shahine, created the first version of Ignore, called Thread Killer, back in 2005. For that, and many other reasons, he is a local hero.
So there you have it – two wonderful surprises that I’ll bet you didn’t even know were hiding in the email program you use every day. Who knows what the next release will bring?