In the previous part of this article series, I talked about what message classifications are, and about some of the limitations associated with using message classifications. As I mentioned in that article, there are a hand full of built in message classifications that you can begin using immediately (assuming that you are using Outlook 2007 or OWA 2007). In this article, I want to show you how to use message classifications in an OWA 2007 environment. The ways in which you can use message classifications are a bit limited right now, but later on in the series, I will show you how to create your own message classifications, which will make this feature much more useful.
As I mentioned in the previous article, message classifications are enabled by default in OWA 2007. To classify a message, open OWA and compose a new message. Before you click the Send button though, you will need to categorize the message. If you look at Figure A, you can see that there is an icon on the New Message toolbar that you can use to select a message classification. Simply choose the classification that you want to use from the drop down menu, as shown in the figure.
Figure A You can classify an outbound message by choosing the desired classification from the drop down window.
Once you have chosen a message classification, the message classification, and some text explaining what the classification mean are displayed above the message that you have composed, as shown in Figure B. You should take a moment and read the classification and the corresponding text to make sure that it accurately conveys your intent for the message. After all, this is the exact same message that the recipient will see when they open the message.
Figure B You should verify that the text that is displayed alongside the classification accurately conveys your intent for the message.
OK, so right about now you are probably wondering what the recipient actually sees when they receive a classified message. Well, the answer is that it really depends on several factors. If you take a look at Figure C, you can see what the classified test message that I sent looks like when it arrives in the recipient’s Inbox.
Figure C This is what a recipient sees when they receive a classified message.
When you looked at the figure above, you might have noticed that I was viewing the message through OWA. With that in mind, you may be wondering what an Outlook user sees when they receive a classified message. Well, take a look at Figure D. Notice anything special?
Figure D Outlook will not display message classifications without requiring you to do some tweaking first.
Don’t worry, you’re not going blind. Outlook 2007 did not display any of the message classification information for the message. I’m not really sure why Microsoft decided to do things in this way, but Outlook 2007 will only display message classifications if you make some modifications to the system registry. Of course that’s just the beginning when it comes to the limitations imposed by Outlook. Older versions of Outlook can’t display message classification data at all.
I’ll cover the specifics of the Outlook 2007 registry tweaks in the next article in the series, but for right now there is something that you need to know. As I mentioned earlier, it is possible to create your own custom message classifications. Even so, I recommend adding custom classifications sparingly. The registry edits for Outlook 2007 aren’t merely to enable message classifications, but rather to make Outlook aware of the classifications that exist. This means that every time that you create a new message classification, you are going to have to manually make Outlook 2007 aware of the change that you’ve made.
As you can see, OWA 2007 is ready to use message classifications immediately. For some reason though, Microsoft has decided not to even enable the default message classifications in Outlook 2007. This seems really strange to me if Microsoft wants people to find message classifications useful, but I digress. In the next article in this series, I will show you how to enable message classifications in Outlook 2007.
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