Interested in using Microsoft SharePoint to store, find and share your Microsoft Outlook messages?
Finding that the out-of-the-box integration of Outlook and SharePoint is awkward to use?
SharePoint add-on software called MacroView Message may well be the answer if you want to save Outlook emails to SharePoint.
Out-of-the-box Outlook / SharePoint Integration
There are a number of ways you can save an Outlook email message to SharePoint using the native facilities of Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft SharePoint. These include:
- Save As from Outlook 365, 2010, 2013, 2016 or 2019
- Explorer View of a SharePoint document library
- Connect to an Outlook discussion and save the message
- Email-enable your SharePoint document libraries
- Exchange Managed Folders
- Drag and drop to a Discussion Board that has been connected to Outlook
Unfortunately all of these approaches fall short in one way or another. Frustrations include difficulty of visualizing and navigating the SharePoint environment, attachments being split off and saved separately, poor naming of the saved message files and custom metadata not being prompted for immediately as the message is saved.
Recognizing that better management of email communication is a key issue for many organizations, a number of vendors have developed add-in software that improves the out-of-the-box integration of Outlook and SharePoint. All of these add-ins let you drag-and-drop in Outlook to save an email message to nominated areas in SharePoint, in most cases with automatic capture of email attributes such as To, From, Subject etc.
“With MacroView Message you can start simple – just drag and drop to save emails to SharePoint – but if you need more email management or document management features then MacroView Message and its companion products can deliver.”
Drag and Drop to Save with MacroView Message
If all you need is a way to let your users drag-and-drop to save their Outlook emails into SharePoint then MacroView Message is the answer. MacroView Message adds a new pane to your Microsoft Outlook environment that makes saving, viewing, finding and retrieving emails and their attachments in SharePoint intuitive and efficient. By “SharePoint” we mean on-premises SharePoint, Office 365 SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business.
MacroView Message provides great support for saving and uploading by drag and drop:
As part of the drag and drop save, the attributes of the emails (e.g. To, From, Subject, etc) are automatically recorded as metadata (see Automatic Capture of Metadata and the resulting files in SharePoint are automatically named to prevent duplicates (see Prevents Duplicate Copies of Emails ).
Going Beyond Drag and Drop Saving
Once users see that they can drag and drop to save emails easily to SharePoint they often reveal other requirements, such as being able to:
MacroView Message can handle all of these requirements, for both SharePoint Online and on-premises SharePoint Server.
The same excellent Outlook integration is also available in MacroView DMF. MacroView Message is a sub-set of MacroView DMF – all the parts of MacroView DMF that run in Microsoft Outlook. In addition to Outlook, MacroView DMF also integrates SharePoint with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Reader / Adobe Acrobat and Windows itself. This is relevant if you want a consistent, user-friendly experience as you perform a wider range of document management tasks – such as editing Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF documents and working with documents from Windows itself.
The key email-handling features of MacroView Message and MacroView DMF are listed below and explored in more detail later in this document..
- Browse, Preview, Open – Emails and other Files
- Efficient Navigation of a SharePoint Document / Email Store
- Automatic Capture of Metadata
- Prevents Duplicate Copies of Emails
- Automatic Filing of Emails
- Excellent Handling of Attachments
- Searching based on Content and / or Metadata
- Moving and Copying Emails and Attachments
- Re-Branding and Other Customizations
- Prevents Saving of Some Types of Message
- Improved Support for Email-Enabled Document Libraries
- Migration of Existing Emails
- Support for Working Offline
- Administrator-Friendly Deployment of Software and Licences
- Good Performance, even with the Largest SharePoint Environments
- Support for SharePoint and Outlook Versions
Browse, Preview, Open – Emails and other Files
MacroView Message adds a new pane to your Outlook environment that provides an intuitive tree-view display of a document store that is implemented in SharePoint on-premises, SharePoint Online, One Drive for Business or a hybrid combination of these platforms. Once you register an on-premises SharePoint web application MacroView Message will display all its site collections, sites, libraries, document sets and folders that contain content for which you have permission – even if those areas are located under one or more breaks in permission inheritance. The site collections that correspond to My Sites for yourself and your colleagues will also be displayed. Registering an Office 365 tenancy will cause all its areas down to the first permission inheritance break to be displayed.
Unlike many competitor products, you do not have to register each site collection – MacroView Message discovers them for you. The MacroView tree display can extend to cover multiple Office 365 tenancies and multiple web applications supported by on-premises SharePoint Servers.
The tree-view extends to show any Metadata navigation that is defined for a Library. For Managed Metadata columns based on hierarchical term sets you can drill down to progressively refine filtering based on the value of that column – effectively creating ‘virtual folders’ of files based on their metadata values.
The tree-view display is not only comprehensive – it is also accurate. Sites, document libraries, document sets and folders are displayed with the same icons as are used in the SharePoint native web browser UI. The additional tree-view pane means that MacroView Message can provide an accurate display of even the largest SharePoint document store, without overloading the MAPI tree by attempting to represent a large SharePoint structure with a large number of extra folders in the Mail Folders pane of Outlook.
Clicking on a document library, document set or folder displays the default View of that area in the central pane of Outlook. You can sort and filter any available View and see new / changed views immediately as they are defined in SharePoint. Sorting by Subject arranges the emails in a library by Conversation Topic – the same sort arrangement as in Outlook itself.
MacroView Message displays a formatted preview of emails and other types of file stored in SharePoint. The preview is located immediately under the file list for the View. These previews allow you to page through the complete message and they can be searched, printed and resized. Attachments are displayed as hyperlinks in these previews. You do not need to open an email with large attachments from SharePoint to see what the message contains.
If you double-click on the entry for an email (or right-click, Open) the email will be retrieved from SharePoint and opened in Outlook, exactly as it was at the moment it was saved. You can then use Reply or Forward in the normal Outlook manner.
Clicking on a site in the MacroView Message tree-view displays the front page of that site in the right pane of Outlook. This facilitates access to Contacts, Events, Tasks and lists managed in SharePoint.
Efficient Navigation of a SharePoint Document / Email Store
The MacroView Message tree-view enables rapid and efficient navigation of large SharePoint document environments. By right-clicking in the MacroView tree-view you can use the SharePoint search engine to find and locate to the site, document library, document set or folder that you want to work with. This find-and-locate is very quick even in the largest SharePoint environments.
In an on-premises SharePoint environment you can also efficiently filter the display of sub-nodes of a node – e.g. all the document libraries in a site whose titles contain a certain text string. This filtering is performed server-side and can be made even more efficient by enabling server-side caching.
Favorites enable one-click navigation to frequently used parts of the overall tree – e.g. to the Site that corresponds to a Client or Project that you use often. You can expand the Favorite site to see the sub-sites, libraries, document sets and folders that are nested within that site.
Your Favorites can be pushed out to you automatically and you can also subscribe so that (subject to security) the Favorites that are created for your colleagues are created for you as well.
By using this Push Favorites mechanism your organization can arrange for you to have Favorites created automatically corresponding to the Customers or Projects that you are assigned to in a CRM or Project Tracking System.
Bulk Saving of Emails and Attachments in the Background
With MacroView Message you can drag-and-drop in Outlook to save an Outlook email (or multiple emails) to ANY document library, document set or folder in SharePoint (on-premises or Online) for which you have permission. You can also drag and drop to save one or multiple attachments. If you drop multiple emails, the save process proceeds in the background after a quick initial check that the emails do not already exist. While the save proceeds in the background you can continue working in Outlook – including performing other saves by dragging and dropping. This saves a lot of time when you are filing your emails at the end of a busy week or project.
Automatic Capture of Metadata
As it saves an email to SharePoint, MacroView Message will automatically record email attributes – e.g. To, From, SentOn date/time, Attachment Count etc. – in fact all the standard attributes of an email except those that are personal. An attribute like Category is personal because it can have a different value for each different user. There is going to be only one copy of the email stored in SharePoint and rather than record the value for only one user, the out-of-the-box action of MacroView Message is not to record personal attributes (like Category) at all.
Out-of-the-box MacroView Message will record email attributes in metadata columns that have specific internal names (e.g. the To attribute of the email is recorded in a column with the internal name mvTo, the From attribute in a column with internal name mvFrom, etc.). Part of the installation for MacroView Message is helping to ensure that these columns are readily available for use in your document libraries.
However MacroView Message can be custom-configured so that it records other email attributes (including Category) and so that the metadata columns can have whatever names you like.
As you save emails and attachments MacroView Message will prompt for any custom metadata columns that it cannot set automatically. When saving to an on-premises SharePoint server MacroView Message supports all SharePoint column types – including External (based on Business Connectivity Services). When saving to Office 365 SharePoint Online all column types except External are supported.
If you are saving multiple emails or attachments, MacroView Message lets you capture common metadata and have it recorded for all the files, rather than prompting you separately for the metadata to be applied to each file. Another time-saving feature is the ability to set Personal Default values for metadata columns that you use frequently.
As you save attachments, file system attributes (such as Created Date, Last Modified Date and Author) can also be recorded automatically. This overcomes one of the frustrations reported by folks who move their File Shares to SharePoint, which is that the Created date becomes the date you loaded the file to SharePoint, and the original Created Date in the file system is lost.
Prevents Duplicate Copies of Emails
MacroView Message automatically names the MSG file that it creates to save an Outlook email so as to prevent other recipients from creating duplicate copies of that email in any one SharePoint location. MacroView Message can be configured to automatically delete emails from their Outlook folder once they are saved successfully to SharePoint. Alternatively MacroView Message will set a yellow Saved to SharePoint category on the copy of the email in your Outlook folder to highlight that it has already been saved.
If you attempt to save an email to an area where that email is already stored, there are no confusing questions as to whether you want to replace it or create another version. Instead the email is simply marked Saved to SharePoint or deleted from your InBox or other Outlook folder, depending on how MacroView Message is configured.
Automatic Filing of Emails
Out-of-the-box MacroView Message lets each user define Filing Rules so that incoming or outgoing emails are automatically saved in SharePoint or Office 365 SharePoint Online. These filing rules are similar in concept and operation to Outlook’s own rules – including the way the system works through existing rules in order, executing the first rule that it finds satisfied by an email.
MacroView Predictive Email Filing (MacroView PEF) is an optional module available for MacroView Message (and MacroView DMF). Installing MacroView PEF adds a Drag files here… drop zone to the top of the MacroView pane in Outlook. If you drag and drop an email onto this drop zone, MacroView PEF will display a list of suggested save locations in SharePoint or Office 365 SharePoint Online. These suggestions are based on where other emails from the same sender (for a Received email) or to the same recipient (for a Sent email) has previously been saved.
As an email is saved MacroView PEF can append a Tracking Tag to the subject of the email. This tracking tag makes the saving of subsequent emails in the same conversation thread much more efficient. The subsequent emails will be saved to the same location with either zero effort or by simply dragging and dropping to the drop zone, depending on configuration. MacroView PEF can also be configured to recognize tracking tags that the organization itself is appending to emails – e.g. emails that are generated by a line-of-business application. Again the tracking tag makes the saving of incoming and outgoing emails require either zero effort or very little effort.
Excellent Handling of Attachments
Incoming attachments are saved as part of the stored message and can also be saved separately. You can rename an attachment as you save it to SharePoint – e.g. so that an incoming attachment is stored as the latest version of an existing file with a different name. This is very useful in situations where you send a file to someone for their comments and they email it back with a different name.
If an attachment’s file name contains characters that are illegal in SharePoint they are automatically trimmed out, with no confusing error message from SharePoint. If the destination library contains the appropriate metadata column the original unstripped file name complete with its illegal characters is automatically recorded and will subsequently be re-instated when the file is later retrieved from SharePoint and inserted as an attachment to an outgoing email. That way a customer is unaware that the illegal characters had to be removed in order to store the attachment in SharePoint.
You can easily retrieve files from SharePoint to insert as attachments or links in new messages – either by right-clicking that file in SharePoint and selecting Send as, File or Send as, Link , by clicking Insert, Attachment or Insert, Link to a file in a new message window or by selecting the file (or files) from search results (see below).
MacroView DMF also enables convenient saving to SharePoint of PDF attachments that have been opened in Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat. The Save to SharePoint command that MacroView adds to these Adobe products provides the same versioning and metadata capture as if you were saving from Word, Excel or PowerPoint. You can also use Open from SharePoint direct from Adobe.
Searching based on Content and / or Metadata
MacroView Message facilitates searching based on metadata and / or content for email messages and other files stored in SharePoint, while you work in Outlook. You can click to see a formatted preview of search results and rapidly navigate to and display the SharePoint location wherein a search result file is located. You can also save and re-run your searches.
MacroView Message sends queries to the SharePoint Search Engine (or FAST Search if it is configured) – you do not need to create additional search indexes. If the Server is running SharePoint 2013 or FAST Search for SharePoint 2010 is deployed, MacroView Message also supports Refiners.
If you are running against an on-premises SharePoint Server you will see Email Search and Keyword Search available in the drop-down list of Search Types immediately after installation. You can readily customize the corresponding search panels, and / or add new search panels that reflect the way metadata is used within your organization.
MacroView can assist with adding custom pickers to your search panels – e.g. a picker that lets you type-ahead or click to expand a tree display to choose values from a hierarchical term set. This is much easier and safer than having to key the values that you want to use as search criteria.
Moving and Copying Emails and Attachments
MacroView Message support for moving and copying files stored in SharePoint is the best available in the market today. You can drag and drop to move or copy files from one SharePoint document library to another, even if the destination library is located in a different SharePoint site collection or web application. As it moves, MacroView Message retains existing Version History, reuses existing metadata and prompts for any metadata defined in that library that is not present on the file being moved.
Re-Branding and Other Customizations
MacroView Message and MacroView DMF are designed to be customisable, which enables a good fit to the specific requirements of organizations – especially larger organizations. All the labels and messages displayed by the product can be adjusted – e.g. all instances of “SharePoint” can be replaced by “Acme Docs”. This re-branding can really help with user adoption.
MacroView can add custom items to the right-click menus of MacroView Message – e.g. a Workflow item in the menu that displays when you right-click on an item for an email in the MacroView file list or a Create New Customer option in the menu that appears when you right-click in the tree-view.
The MacroView profiling dialog can also be customised to support additional functionality – e.g. create a new customer or project record in a CRM or line-of-business system. You can also customise MacroView search panels – see “Searching based on Content and / or Metadata”, above.
Prevents Saving of Some Types of Message
There are some messages that you just don’t want saved in your SharePoint store. A good example is emails that have already been archived by a tool such as Enterprise Vault – what is left in your InBox is a stub that points to the archived message somewhere in the Vault. If you attempt to save a stubbed email MacroView Message can display a warning, or if you prefer, prevent the save.
Improved Support for Email-Enabled Document Libraries
Email-enabling a SharePoint document library creates an SMTP email address for that library so that you can send an email directly into that library. Unfortunately the result is an EML file that cannot be opened in Microsoft Outlook and attachments split off and saved separately so that it can be hard to know what email they relate to.
MacroView Email Handler is an optional module for MacroView Message (and MacroView DMF) that overcomes a key frustration of using email-enabled document libraries for managing emails in SharePoint.
When MacroView Email Handler is deployed, emails that arrive in the library via its SMTP email address are automatically saved in the same way as emails that you drag and drop into that library from Outlook. The result is a MSG file that is named to prevent duplicates and can be opened in Outlook. MacroView Email Handler automatically records the attributes of the incoming email in like-named metadata columns (see ‘Automatic Capture of Email Metadata’, above).
Migration of Existing Emails
If you already have a large number of emails stored in SharePoint you might be wondering about how these would be impacted if you were to move to MacroView Message. The good news is that MacroView can supply the Standardiser utility, which streamlines the updating of existing email files so that they have the same format, naming and other metadata treatment as emails that you save with MacroView Message.
MacroView Standardiser can also update the structure of existing document libraries so that they have the metadata columns that MacroView Message can record automatically. Standardiser also streamlines deployment of Views to existing libraries – e.g. so that all libraries have a common Emails view.
MacroView Standardiser is popular with organizations that are migrating a large number of emails from Outlook folders – including Exchange Public Folders – to SharePoint. One way to handle such a migration is to save them via MacroView Message. A more efficient approach can be to bulk load the emails into SharePoint and then standardize their naming and metadata by using MacroView Standardiser.
Support for Working Offline
When you are offline in Outlook and working in Outlook Web Access you are still able to drag and drop emails and attachments to the Outlook Folders that correspond to your Favorite document libraries, document sets and folders in SharePoint. You can also use Outlook Rules to automatically save copies of incoming and outgoing messages into those folders. When you are next Online and connected to the SharePoint server you can use the Upload Offline Emails feature of MacroView Message to complete the saving of emails in your Favorites folders.
If your client PC does not have SharePoint Workspace, SkyDrive Pro or One Drive for Business installed, the MacroView DMF right-click menu will contain a Take Offline option, which checks out the selected file and copies it to a SharePoint Offline folder on your PC. Otherwise the right-click menu will contain Create a Synchronized Copy, which will make a copy of the email or file in the folder that is synchronised with OneDrive for Business.
Administrator-Friendly Deployment of Software and Licences
MacroView Message is deployed at client PCs by running an MSI, which is supplied at the secure product download site. There are a wide range of configuration settings, all of which are compatible with Group Policy. GPO can be used to enforce values for settings. An ADMx template that contains all configuration settings together with documentation of all settings is available at the secure download site.
Individual users do not have to enter license details. Instead these are installed centrally and accessed automatically on behalf of users.
MacroView Message is proven to be compatible with popular virtual desktop deployment environments, such as Citrix and VMware.
Good Performance, even with the Largest SharePoint Environments
MacroView Message is designed to provide consistently good performance and efficient resource utilisation when saving to and navigating SharePoint document stores, including those with large, deeply-nested Site Collection / Site / Library / Folder trees and very large document volumes. A key to this good performance and volume capability is the patented web service that installs as part of deploying MacroView Message in an on-premises SharePoint server.
Support for SharePoint and Outlook Versions
MacroView Message supports tenancies in Office 365 SharePoint Online, and on-premises servers running SharePoint 2019, 2016 or earlier. On client PCs, MacroView Message will run in Outlook 365, 2019, 2016 or earlier. Different versions of Outlook can be run across different client PCs, which makes it easier to stage deployments.
Contact MacroView for more information about our solutions for document management, email management, document drafting and automated document assembly.