Add a Tabbed E-Mail View to Microsoft Outlook

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If you've lamented the lack of tabs in Microsoft Outlook, lament no more. Now you can give the program the one feature Microsoft seems determined to keep out.

See, tabs make sense. They let you keep multiple documents, pages, or the like readily accessible within the same window. That's why every browser on the planet has adopted them, and why a good many applications have followed suit.

But Microsoft hasn't really done much in the tab department. Sure, Internet Explorer finally got the feature in version 7, but what about Microsoft Word? What about Excel? (Admittedly, individual worksheets are separated across tabs, but each complete spreadsheet must be opened as another instance of the program.)

And, for heaven's sake, what about Microsoft Outlook? Surely it makes sense to use tabs for different e-mail folders so you can easily hop between them, keep important ones visible, and so on. Of course it does--and don't call me Shirley. (Hmm. That joke just doesn't work in blog form.)

OutlookTabs brings a tabbed e-mail view to Outlook. It's a smart and effective little plug-in that lets you open different Outlook folders in different tabs. And not just e-mail folders, but also calendars.

Once installed, OutlookTabs adds a New Tab option below the Ribbon and also to context menus. Thus, one click is all it takes to get your tab on. You can reorder open tabs by dragging and dropping them, and even use keyboard shortcuts to cycle through them. Plus, the plug-in conveniently remembers your tabs between sessions, so whatever ones you have open now will reappear the next time you start Outlook.

OutlookTabs requires Windows XP or later and works with Outlook 2007 and 2010. It costs $25 for a single license, but there's a free trial available so you can test-drive it first. And you should: on my PC, the plug-in wouldn't run. (But I don't blame OutlookTabs; I've encountered similar problems with other Outlook plug-ins, so something is hosed in my installation.)

What do you think? Is this feature worth $25? Personally, I wish it worked with individual e-mails instead of just folders. That would add a lot more value.

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