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One Search to Rule Them All

May 01, 2015, 12:00 PM ET


This is an excerpt from the original article that is featured on the Canadian online legal magazine, Slaw.

Lawyers need to find information, the faster the better. As the years go by, your electronic files expand and your ability to retrieve information quickly can suffer. I've already looked at desktop search by itself and want to look at search that incorporates your e-mail this time around. A search tool that digs into your inbox and, potentially, everything else on your computer, can eliminate the need to repeat searches in more than one place.

Search Your Email

All of the e-mail clients I've used have included search. Most, like Microsoft's Outlook or Mozilla's Thunderbird, will search your local e-mails, those that you've downloaded and stored on your hard drive. Microsoft Outlook can also be connected to your Windows search for a more powerful retrieval tool. If you use Microsoft's Exchange server or IMAP, you may also be able to search e-mails stored and archived on the server.

Finding information can mean looking in more than one place. E-mail search on its own may not index the contents of attachments or even help you remember when you had them. Google's GMail helps with that for their users, who can search their e-mail and also retrieve matching documents they have stored in their Google Drive.

Better Search Add-Ins

One way to improve your e-mail search is to use an add-in. Microsoft Outlook has a good dozen or more available for personal use as well as firm-wide "enterprise" options. FewClix is representative of the sort of thing you'll find when using one of these add-ins. Once activated, you will see a new search bar appear below your Outlook ribbon.

One Search to Rule Them All

You can do a keyword search, or use the drop down boxes to filter out matches. One of the filters I like best is the file type filter, allowing you to quickly show just those files with attachments. Once the add-in completes its initial index of the files you have in your folders, it updates as you switch to each folder.

FewClix automates some steps that you can accomplish on your own within Microsoft Outlook without an add-in. Like a set of pre-built macros you might get for Microsoft Word, an e-mail add-in can save you time by providing you shortcuts, saving you time.

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To view the article on the Slaw site, please click here.