Thursday, November 29, 2007

Outlook's killer feature

Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 has one feature that I really miss from using it daily for 2 years -- the ability to copy and paste an image into an email.

I really like taking screen clippings and including them in emails, both because pictures make things fun to read and because they're often worth a thousand words (and who wants to write or read a thousand words?!).

But with all of the web-based email services (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, etc) it seems you have to save the image as a file, then attach the file to the email, and in most cases, it doesn't get inserted in any particular position in the message body.

The fact that this is still the case in 2007 is tragic. I'd even go so far as to switch back to Outlook for work email, except that I imagine when I would send an email with a few pictures between paragraphs from Outlook to a Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo Mail recipient, they would probably often arrive out of order and/or looking different than how they looked when sent? But maybe it would work alright if I switched Outlook from rich text to html email? Has anyone ever tried?

When Ray Ozzie took over Bill Gates's job last year, he was working on a pet project to help bring copy/paste to the web. Has it gone anywhere, or was it a complete failure? Ray hasn't updated his blog at all since mid-2006. (As a sidenote, anyone else notice that regular Windows Live Spaces users get their blogs plastered with ads at the top but Ray Ozzie doesn't?)

Perhaps now that Gmail supports IMAP, I should try the Windows Live Mail client app again. Should I be willing to suck up having to look at banner ads while I read my email if I can paste my screen clippings? Perhaps I'll give it a go...

[Update 12/25/2007] I ended up giving the Windows Live Mail desktop client another try, and it's absolutely wonderful with Gmail's IMAP support. Images pasted into messages still appear inline in Gmail, and it has a great offline sync story. Check it out.


joshie said...

If I can be nitpicky for a moment, it's not really an Outlook killer feature so much as it is a desktop email client killer feature. Our evil email system here (Lotus Notes) can do it. I just did a quick test to see what would happen when I email myself from my work account with an image pasted in, to my gmail account. The image is converted to an attachment, and there is text in the spot where it used to be explaining that there was an image there. It's not clear to me if this was a function of the sending or the receiving mail server, though.

I do agree that it is a feature that would be very nice to have. I would also like to see gmail have the ability (like MS Word) to remove formatting from (or match it) copy/pasted text in an email message. I hate having to paste text into Notepad to strip the formatting before I then copy it again and paste it into gmail (Lotus notes has this shortcoming as well). There is an option to convert the entire message to plain text, but that is not sufficient.

adamjh said...

Aye joshie! Sarcasm was indeed implied in the killer feature label. ;) Specifically, of all the advanced new features and functionality in Office 2007 (SharePoint integration, new UI panes, etc), the only thing that really matters to me is something that any rich desktop mail client can do, but web-based mail services cannot.

After this post, I did go ahead and try the Windows Live Mail desktop client with Gmail's IMAP support. It's working insanely well -- highly recommend it!