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Preface

Preface

Outlook is a big, complex program. We knew this at the onset of this project, and we were reminded time and time again as we scratched and prodded its underbelly looking for answers. What surprised us, however, was the passionate love/hate relationship Outlook engenders in users. They love it and they hate it. They love it enough to use it every day, and hate it enough to break into more than the occasion tirade when asked about the product. After ten months of exhaustive exploration and living with Outlook for twenty hours a day, we can relate.

Outlook has more than its share of quirks and nuances. Option dialogs reside in the strangest places. Configuration settings for one component quietly affect another. The program's engineers appear to have taken great delight in using multiple naming conventions for identical objects. (Quickly now, what's the difference between a Personal Store, a Store, an Information Store, and a Personal Folders file?)

Outlook has a steep learning curve. The good news is that as you progress along this curve, you'll discover what a powerful and flexible program it is (sometimes too flexible—but flexible nonetheless). As you read through the pages to follow, you will quickly find that Outlook can adapt to almost any style or task you throw at it, sometimes with elegance, and sometimes with a kludge or two. There is not much you cannot do with Outlook given a little patience (well, OK, sometimes a lot of patience) and a healthy dose of ingenuity.

Most users don't even begin to tap into Outlook's full potential. One of the biggest reasons for this is the lack of clear, accurate documentation on how to use its many features and components. Outlook's Help files are woefully inadequate for all but the most basic questions—and even then, the answers Clippit serves up often have no relevance whatsoever. Many of the books already written on Outlook tell you where to find something, but not why you might want to use it. We have done our very best to address these shortcomings in a tone and style that makes learning enjoyable.

The definitive guide to Outlook has yet to be written, and probably never will. The program is just too multifaceted to exhaustively cover in any one place. What we've tried to compile is an accurate and useful reference to Outlook's major components. The end result is 600 pages of densely packed, "need-to-know" material, rather than a 1500 page tome. If you want fluff, this is not the place to look.

In the immortal words of our editor, "Get in, tell it like it is, and get out." Amen, Troy.

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