By JR Raphael
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
Fellow Outlook users, prepare to revolutionize your email experience.
Allow me to introduce you to my new best friend and personal assistant, Xobni (pronounced ZOB-nee, and spelled like a backwards inbox). He and I just met this morning, but we’ve really hit it off.
Xobni is a powerful little tool that’ll save you time and effort in your electronic communications. It’s been under development in a limited beta release up until this week, so now’s your first chance to give it a whirl. I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of how it can help me, and I’m already blown away. Let me get you acquainted.
Perhaps the most useful part of Xobni is how it indexes and threads content. Taking a cue from Gmail, the program lists emails in “conversations,” so you’ll see all the back-and-forth replies to any message together in one window within Outlook (Xobni runs as a sidebar inside the program). Having that info so readily available, without even having to navigate away from your current message, is quite a convenience.
But where Xobni one-ups Gmail is in its attachment handling. Who hasn’t needed to find an old attached file and forgotten where you saved it? When you have an email open, Xobni’s displays a box that shows you every single file you’ve ever exchanged with that person and lets you easily access them. I have no doubt this will save me on many occasions. But it’s only the beginning of what Xobni can do for your inbox.
The neat thing about this utility is how it logically connects everything in Outlook. Open up an email from someone, and everything you could possibly need to know about them appears in the sidebar:
- You get all their contact info, including — here’s the best part — phone numbers extracted from their past emails. Xobni will pull their digits from their signature and save them for you, without you ever having to do a thing.
- You get a list of people related to your sender, like coworkers or others with measurable connections. Xobni analyzes emails they’ve sent, looking at things like shared recipients, to deduce and organize this data.
- You get a bar graph of what times of day they email you, so you can easily figure out when they’re usually at their computer and most reachable.
- And you get a chart showing the balance of inbound and outbound messages. Think you’re emailing your boss way more than he’s emailing you? Xobni will let you know at a glance.
Xobni also has far more powerful (and far less time-consuming) searching than Outlook, plus another fun Google-esque feature: analytics. Makes you wonder why Microsoft didn’t think of all that.
Xobni is available for free downloading at the developer’s web site. The program supports Outlook 2003 or 2007 running on XP or Vista.