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Greetings! Welcome to Vol. 9, No. 5, 10 June 2004, of Exchange
Messaging Outlook, a biweekly newsletter about Microsoft Exchange
and Microsoft Outlook.
TAMING YOUR INBOX
Everyone has different methods they
use to keep their Inbox under control. My method involves heavy use
of flags and I never mark messages read automatically. Since I
usually only mark messages read when I reply to them, I always have
around 1800 unread messages in a mailbox with about 3500 messages.
I don't like using rules to move messages as they arrive, rules
break too often and when messages aren't in the Inbox they are too
easily forgotten. Outlook's Search folders help, but old habits die
hard and I still spend a large part of my day in the Inbox.
Two new Outlook utilities are helping me organize my Inbox. The
first, Auto-mate, applies rules to messages hours or days after they
arrive, offerig basic rules conditions - To, From, CC, Subject,
Importance, Read Status, and Flag Status. This allows me to leave
messages in the Inbox long enough for me to see them and (hopefully)
act on them. I use it to file messages from mailing lists, server
reports, and mail from specific people or with a specific subject.
The second new add-in is Quick Mail Sort. It moves messages based
on who they are from--scanning the contacts folder for e-mail
addresses, moving messages to folders created for each contact,
naming the folder using the Contact's e-mail display name field. It
can move just messages from contacts considered business contacts or
include Personal contacts as well as messages from people not in the
contacts folder. Unlike Auto-mate, it's not automatic, I need to run
it when you want to file my messages, such as at the end of the each
day or week. It runs on the currently selected folder, so Outlook
2003 users can create Search folders to control what is filtered, as
the filtering options are limited to the classification of the
sending e-mail address, read and flagged status.
I'm a fan of ExLife, but Quick Mail Sort is easier to configure
(no configuration required) and very simple to use. However, if you
want to sort mail based on rules and don't have Outlook 2003, try
These programs all work with Outlook 2000 and up.
Quick Mail Sort
For a list of other rules utilities, see
HOW GOOD IS THE INTELLIGENT MESSAGE FILTER?
One question often asked after the release of the Intelligent
Message Filter was "How good is it?" The answer is "surprisingly
accurate". I configured it to archive messages with a Spam
confidence level (SCL) rating of 6 on the server and have a false
positive rate of less than 1 in 800 messages. Using an SCL of 5, I
had 6 in 300 false positives. With the client SCL set at 2, the
false positive rating on Inbox filtering is worse, partly because
very little spam gets into the mailboxes to begin with. Mailing
lists and newsletters are problematic, with a false positive rate of
close to 20% before white-listing addresses. Fortunately, the false
negative rate is very low and almost all of the spam is removed from
IMF fails noticeably with spam sent to mail-enabled public
folders. Before enabling IMF on the Exchange server, I used GFI's
Mail essentials on a gateway SMTP server at the firewall. While the
false positive rate for my configuration was in the range of 1 in
500 messages, spam was all but non-existent in the public folders.
Most of the spam delivered to the public folders has a SCL of 5, so
lowering the server setting from 6 would help, but it would also
increase the false positives.
In this situation, the ideal setup is an anti-spam filter on the
gateway, configured to insure a low false positive rate, with IMF on
the Exchange server removing the remaining spam. When used in
conjunction with a well-tuned third party spam filter, IMF can
eliminate a large portion of the spam your organization receives,
with the client side SCL settings removing the remaining spam from
user's Inboxes. Sunbelt Software reached a similar conclusion in
First Look: Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filtering
available in PDF format.
The bottom line? The IMF is good, but not good enough to
eliminate third party filters in many organizations. Smaller
organizations who can't or won't invest in a third party programs
will benefit and it should make Exchange 2003 easier to sell to
As you know, the IMF assigns a spam
confidence level rating to each message and filters messages based
on that number. But can you find what level it assigns to messages
you find in the archive or Junk E-mail folder?
To add the SCL number to message headers on messages moved to the
archive folder on the Exchange server, follow the instructions in
Chapter 6 of the deployment guide to add the ArchiveSCL value to the
registry key. This adds the SCL number to the top of the message
header in this format: X-SCL: 7 95.18%. In this example, IMF is
95.18% confident the message is spam and assigned it 7 points.
deployment guide includes instructions to change the location of the
archive directory, filter messages sent by authenticated users,
since by default, authenticated users bypass filtering. The guide
also has instructions for creating a registry key that allows you to
configure the maximum size of the safe and blocked sender's lists.
If you want to see the SCL number on messages in Outlook, you
need to add the SCL field to a view to see the SCL ratings, as they
aren't exposed in the message header. To learn how to create the SCL
field, follow the instructions at
You had me at EHLO:.
Once the SCL field is added to a view using Outlook, you can use the
view in Outlook or OWA to see the SCL rating. If you're using cached
mode with Outlook, disable cached mode when you create the view to
insure the view is saved on the server and available to OWA. Once
the view is created, select it from the Views menu next to the
Folder name in OWA.
For at least the first few weeks, you should archive messages and
review the archive, so that you can be sure the filter settings are
optimal for your organization. Reviewing the archived messages can
be time consuming, since opening the messages in notepad is safest,
but it takes a long time to review them. Dropping the archived
messages into Outlook Express folders for review is faster and
easier, but if you use this method, make sure you turn on the option
to read all mail in plain text and turn off the preview pane. While
you can exit out of the Outlook Express dialogs and avoid creating a
profile, I added the postmaster account using the IMAP protocol so I
can forward false positives to the intended recipient.
If you don't want to use OE to browse the archives, a free utility
written by James Webster is available at GotDotNet. Use the IMF
Archive Manager to browse the archived messages and if you find any
false positives, you can easily resubmit the message to Exchange. It
also includes options to copy the content to the clipboard or
forward by e-mail to an address.
Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter Deployment Guide
IMF Archive Manager
FORCING OUTLOOK 2003 TO CREATE UNICODE PSTS
Many Outlook 2003 users ask how to force Outlook to create only
Unicode pst's. By default, Outlook will create a Unicode pst when
possible. The exception is when creating pst's to be used with IMAP
or Hotmail/MSN accounts, those must be ANSI. While not usually
necessary, you can force Outlook 2003 to force Unicode pst's by
setting a registry value for NewPSTFormat.
To force Unicode or ANSI psts, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook
Add the NewPSTFormat value with one of the following values:
Prefer Unicode PST: 0 (default)
Prefer ANSI PST: 1
Enforce Unicode PST: 2
Enforce ANSI PST: 3
By using a value of 2 or 3, you can restrict all new .pst files to
either the old format or the new format. Note however, that Outlook
will not open the mailbox folders if you are using IMAP or
Hotmail/MSN accounts and try to force Unicode format pst's - they
require the ANSI format used by Outlook97/2002.
Read more about this in the Office 2003 Resource Kit online at