Baltimore Sun

Point and click to delete duplicate e-mail

Q. I somehow created duplicate e-mail messages that are so numerous (3,000) that going through them manually to delete would be too onerous and take days to accomplish. I have tried every option that seems to be available to identify and delete the duplicates but have had no luck. Do you know of an automated process to ID and delete duplicate e-mail messages?

I am running Outlook version 10 on Windows XP Home Edition. Joseph Deegan

A. Your question opens the door for me to tell many readers about a couple of point-and-click features of the e-mail displays in both full-strength Microsoft Outlook and consumer-oriented Outlook Express that can vastly simplify handling messages.

Since your problematic messages are identical, all you need to do to find them is to move the cursor to the top e-mail in your display and highlight it. Next, look closely at the narrow bar just above the top note and you will see names for each field--such as Sender, Subject, Received Date and others. If you just click the little bar for Subject, the program will instantly display all notes with the same subject line clustered together. It will be no trouble at all to find the one with 3,000 items.

Then go to the first note in that list and click on it to define it. Now use the scroll bars on the right of the display to go to the very last one in the list and hold down the Shift key while highlighting it with a mouse click.

This will paint all messages. Now press the right mouse button and you will find a list of commands, including ones to delete all of them, send them to a separate folder or take other actions.

Since you can do these automatic click-sorts for all fields in the e-mail display, this becomes a great way to do stuff like checking the entire thread of an exchange of notes with a given person or for finding notes flagged for a special action. Sorting becomes one of the most useful tools available for managing large amounts of e-mail. It can speed up everything, from deleting spam from a certain sender to finding every note that arrived on a given day.

Likewise, this lets users segregate a given collection of notes and then forward them in bulk to another person or perhaps to one's home computer for follow-up away from the office.

Q. This is in response to a recent question about a mysterious situation in which a consulting firm was sending spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel to a client, only to have the client discover that numbers were being changed somewhere in the process.

You suggested that a malicious employee might be sabotaging the documents and explained how to put them in encrypted Zip files to stop it.

I want to suggest another method that can do the same thing more easily. There is a way in Excel and other Office programs to lock a spreadsheet or other document so it can only be opened with a password. Why not just do that? Elizabeth Millsap, Chicago

A. Thanks for inserting a measure of calm into my efforts to help reader Franket Kral's mysterious problem. After some serious pondering on my part and asking my sources for help, it seemed likely that somebody was doctoring the documents sent from Kral's office to clients. So I reacted with a hard-nosed solution that probably was overkill--akin to adding a padlock to a door with five locks and a deadbolt.

Your solution is quite elegant and probably sufficient. To password-protect an Excel spreadsheet, you use the Save As command under the File tool. In the upper right corner of the Save As dialog box is a small word "Tools" that should be clicked, and then one needs to pick General Options. This opens a dialog box that lets one pick a password for just that document. Anybody who tries to open it needs to type in the password from then on.

This lacks the draconian 128-bit DES encryption I suggested from acquiring the latest WinZip software (Version 9) to place the spreadsheets in protected Zip archives for secure sending. This is draconian because one needs to use a 32-letter password to get 128-bit protection, the same as required by the Pentagon.

WinZip also permits 256-bit encryption with 64-letter passwords.

I am sure that the vast majority of business users would do just fine using the simple but effective password protection built right in to Excel.

It should be added, as you noted, that this same feature is available for the other components of Microsoft Office, including Word and PowerPoint.

Q. Regarding printing directories from the Microsoft Explorer: Do you know about this solution?: cid=kb;en-us;272623

Paul Froehle, Lemont

A. You are a man of few words, Mr. F., and they are well-chosen ones indeed.

It turns out that Microsoft offers its customers a way to do a bit of computer programming themselves and add a tool to Windows for printing out all of the names of the files in a given folder.

The fact that Windows users cannot do this out of the box may be the most glaring omission in the world's utterly dominant personal computer operating system.

How to print Windows folder listings is a question I get frequently from office folks who badly need a hard copy of all of the documents in a given folder.

They cannot just order one printed because it was left out of Windows, even though it was a major feature of the DOS system that Windows replaced.

Microsoft has posted in its Knowledge Base a set of instructions for writing a small text file of programming instructions called a .bat file that can be installed to add a Print Directory tool to Windows. It is Article 272623 and can be found either by using the Web address in your note or by going to and requesting Article No. 272623.

I use a powerful but simple program called File Monkey to handle this task, along with other bookkeeping matters. Those include renaming a batch of files, appending a number of files into a single document and ordering mass changes of file attributes.

This shareware can be found at, using File Monkey as a keyword.

Have a question for Jim Coates on small-business technology? Please send an e-mail to or via snail mail at the Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago IL 60611. Questions can be answered only through this column.