Making the Most Out of Your Email

Learn more about two ways that attorneys can make the most out of their email programs: saving emails and using read receipts.

Q: How do I save email from within my email program?

A: I have two suggestions for saving sent and received emails, and which procedure you choose will depend on your need for future access of the correspondence.

1) If the email is a case-related correspondence, you probably want to save it as a text (.txt) file and organize it by case number within your document management system. Here's how to save an email as a text file in MS Outlook: from an open email go to File and choose Save As. Choose the location to where the file will be saved from the drop down hierarchy. Name the file in the File name field, and be sure to change the Save as type to either Text Only (.txt) or Rich Text Format (.rtf).

Some readers asked how they could save the email to a portable storage device. To do this, choose the A: drive from the drop down hierarchy. Except in cases of necessary transport, I generally discourage the use of saving files to portable storage devices due to the high likelihood of losing data.

2) If the main reason for saving email is for archiving purposes, and your need for organization is not of paramount importance, follow this method for saving email: In the Outlook Inbox go to File and choose Import and Export; select the Export to a File option and the file format I suggest is the Personal Folder File (.pst); select the folder to export from (Inbox) and then select a location to save your file. This is a great way of backing up your email and can be restored by following the Import procedure.

Q: Is there a function in email that will notify me when the recipient of my email reads it?

A: The answer to your question depends on how you access your email. If you have an HTML based email account through Yahoo or Hotmail, then it is currently not possible to use the Read Receipt feature. But, if you are using an email program such as Outlook or Outlook Express, you can easily set up a Read Request so that when the recipient opens the email, a receipt will be returned to you.

To set this feature up for all outgoing messages in Outlook, go to Tools and then Options. A window will popup. On the preference tab, click the Email Options button, which will open another window that presents a Tracking Options button (click it). Place a check in the Request a read receipt for all messages I send box to enable the Read Request option. Similarly, in Outlook Express this option is available on the Receipts tab.

Two important things to note when using the Read Request feature:

1) The recipient of your email is automatically prompted as to whether to send a read receipt back to you. So even if you activate this feature, it is up to the recipient whether to allow such a receipt to be sent.

2) Just because you receive a Read Receipt, it doesn't necessarily mean the person has actually read your message, only that the message has been opened.

Tips courtesy of Chuck Linebaugh of O'Hagan, Smith & Amundsen.