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Custom Views

Entourage Only - Outlook uses Smart Folders More info

This article contributed by Mickey Stevens, Mac MVP.

What are custom views? Custom views are the most efficient way to view related items in Entourage. As the name indicates, they are views showing only the items that you want to see at a given moment. You save the criteria, or filters, rather than having to enter the details every time like Advanced Find, but the custom view updates each time you open it to find just the items meeting those criteria at that very moment. They can be restricted to just one sort of item, like tasks or notes, or can search and combine mixed lists of items from calendar events to mail messages. As a matter of fact, if more messages are received that meet the criteria while the View is still open, they will automatically be added to the View, saving the frustration of several clicks back and forth (pressing Command-L will force a refresh at any time).

Why should I use Custom Views? I have a filter box in the upper-right hand corner of nearly every view. Well, the Quick-filter box is useful, as you've discovered. But, it only has a small selection of criteria you can use, and at that, you can only filter by one criterion at a time. Custom Views let you select with multiple criteria reinforcing each other ("if ALL criteria are met") or as alternates to each other ("if ANY criteria are met"), just like Mail Rules. You can then sort the results and even use the Quick-filter box to restrict your query even further. In addition, Custom Views can combine information from all Entourage areas (mail, contacts, tasks, notes, and events), which, for example, can be used to find everything related to a specific name, which is something the Quick-filter box simply cannot do.

Let's say you have rules in place that move your messages to different folders based on who sends them. Then you want to see all messages with a specific subject, but the messages you sent are in Sent Items while the received messages are in the Inbox. How could you see all of these messages on one screen without moving any messages to other folders? Create a custom view!

How do Custom Views help me on a recurring basis? Using Custom Views, it’s easier to call up a commonly used filter. This is essentially what would happen if Entourage allowed you to save a Find query. In fact, you can click "Save as Custom View" in the toolbar of the results window of a Find. For instance, within Entourage X or 2004, in the Mail view, go to Mail Views > Received Today. In Entourage 2001, this view is called "Messages Received Today, and is located under the Custom Views folder in the Folder List. This query is very common, as you can see all messages you've received today regardless of location. Instead of having to input the criteria into Advanced Find whenever you want to see these, you can simply call up this Custom View. And not only that, but the contents change daily without any user intervention, so the view stays relevant!

Where can I find Custom Views? You'll notice that Entourage already provides several pre-configured custom views. You can access these in Entourage 2004 by clicking on the "Project Center" navigation button, shown in the illustration above. In Entourage X, you click the "Custom Views" navigation button. A number of Custom Views for each view type are provided in the Folder List. Click on the triangle "expand" button next to any View folder, then click the desired view to display data matching your criteria in the right pane. In Entourage 2001, click on the Custom Views folder in the Folder List to show the pre-configured Custom Views.

How do I create Custom Views? Go to File -> New -> Custom View. In Entourage 2001, you need to first click on the Custom Views folder for this option to be available. You'll then see the editing window. Notice this has an amazing resemblance to Advanced Find, with many of the same powerful features.

How do I use the "Match" column? If you choose to try some of the sample ones below, please be sure that the "Match" pop-up is the same in your editing window as it is in the examples. This is one of the most common causes for Custom Views supposedly not displaying what they should. Here is an overview of what each option does, so you can create more effective Custom Views on your own.

Option Description
This shows all items that match one or more of the criteria listed below.
This shows only items that meet every criterion specified below.
This shows all items except those that match one or more of the criteria below.
This shows all items except those that match every criterion specified below.

Tip for Custom Views: Use Categories. Many of the provided Custom Views as well as any you create rely on the powerful Categories feature of Entourage. In order for these to work properly, go to Entourage > Preferences, then, under "General Preferences", click the Address Book tab. Enable the option to "Automatically match message categories to sender’s categories". Then all you have to do is to click on the Address Book navigation button, and go wild with assigning categories (click the toolbar button). For more flexibility and more relevant views, create your own categories to assign to contacts.

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Create Custom Views To...

Create a Custom View to see the messages received today from your friends. Think about what you want to see. Well, first of all, you only want to see messages, so that’s all you need checked under Item Types. Now, for Location, you want this to show all messages from friends received today, even if you’ve moved them. So the best location choice would be 'All Folders".

The next section, Criteria, is the most difficult for most people; for this, you need to choose "Category is Friends" to show messages from people in the friends category, and "Date Received is 0 Days" to show messages that have been received less than one day ago. Since you want to see messages that are from friends and have been received today, choose “if all criteria are met” in the Match pane.

My version of the Custom View can be seen below.

Create a Custom View to see all messages with the same subject line (in other words, from a particular "thread"). While in the Custom Views folder, go to File -> New -> Custom View. You’ll see the Edit window. Follow the same steps to create this one as you did the last one, though changing the criteria. Here is my View, which, when completed, will display all messages to and from me regarding “Thursday’s Conference”.

View only threads you've contributed to. This Custom View will display newsgroup (and mail messages) that either you've sent or are replies to messages that you've sent or are replies to replies to messages that you've sent and so on. It's best used for newsgroups to see your own messages and the direct replies. Create the Custom View below, then open it. You can then begin typing the newsgroup name into the Quick-filter box (To Contains) in the upper-right hand part of the Entourage window to only display messages from a certain newsgroup/hierarchy.

Search the Calendar. You may have noticed that there is no way to search the Calendar, or even view all your events chronologically, since there is nothing like the Tasks List for calendar events. Custom Views provide the way. Of course, you can make a Calendar view for just events of a particular category, or just events at a particular location. But you can also display all your calendar events, like this:

Note that you must have the "Match" popup set to "if ANY criteria are met". Many people prefer to exclude holidays from their full list of events, so the View could simply look like the one below. Note that in this case the "Match" popup needs to be set to "unless any criteria are met".

Delete Old Calendar Events. If you want to delete ALL of the events on your calendar, first create the Custom View described in "Search the Calendar" above. Then click on any entry and Select All. Press Delete. If you want to delete calendar entries that precede a particular date and/or exclude holidays or recurring events, for instance, that is possible as well using this general principle. The Custom View below will display all events except recurring events and holidays. This makes it easy to clean the calendar of old entries. Create the Custom View below, then open it. Make sure the "Date" column is present (View -> Columns -> Date), and then click the "Date" header to sort by date (the triangle should be pointing up). Now go to the beginning of the list and select the first entry. Use the scroll bar to find the most recent event you want to delete, hold down the Shift key, and select the event. You'll now have all events before that date selected. Just press the "Delete" button on the toolbar to delete all of these calendar events.

Show Recurring Events. This Custom View will show all recurring events with the exception of holidays. This allows you to clear ones from ages ago that you may no longer need. Once you've created the View, open it, and sort by the "Date" column. The ones on top will be oldest, which should expedite the process, but you'll need to manually choose ones to delete.

Just Work! Finally, to check out which Entourage items — contacts, messages, tasks, calendar events, and notes — relate to Work, make a custom view to find all items of the Work category. Click the "All Items" button and proceed from there.

If you choose to limit by date, change the "Match" pop-up to "if all criteria are met" and add additional criteria.

This article contributed by Mickey Stevens, Mac MVP.