Friday, December 1, 2006

Making reminders pop-up over other windows


By Francine Otterson

Reminders seem to be among the biggest problems OutlookPower readers experience. Three recent readers have written in complaining of virtually the same problem. Joel Parayno asks:

How can I make the reminder pop-up to be on top of all my existing documents currently working on? I noticed that when I am working on a document, my reminders do not pop-up on top of document, although I can see it from the task bar. Thanks!

Here's Tom Bates' variant of the same question:

My Outlook reminders always pop-up just as scheduled and with the audio alert. I still miss more than half of these reminders because they pop-up BEHIND other screens that are in current use. Is it possible to have them pop-up in the foreground? Or do you have other suggestions? Thanks.

GJ Case is also frustrated with how reminders pop:

I am frustrated by Outlook's reminder window, which often pops under other windows rather than over them. What use is a reminder you don't see until after the meeting? I have asked my IT group whether there is a setting to fix this bug and was told no, and it's not a bug, it's a feature to prevent the pop-up from interrupting a user's typing stream. Are you aware of a way to fix this, or alternatively, is there a work-around out there?

On Outlook 2003, Microsoft changed the Outlook Reminders window to no longer pop-up on top of others windows. This change was based on customer complaints that it was too intrusive and disruptive to the activity they were currently doing.

Just as our subscribers below, I would like to have the reminder pop-up on top of other windows or in the very least have an option to set it up, but it is not an option in Outlook 2003.

Ironic, but it seems we will have to remember to check the task bar for a flashing icon or listen for the sound alert (often missed) to check reminders. If I could remember to do that then I would not need the reminders at all.

Editor-in-Chief David Gewirtz may have a hack

I've been thinking about this problem and think there may be a solution if you look outside of Outlook itself. Before I share the solution, I need to tell you this is a theory only. I haven't had a chance to get the software and test it. With that caveat, here's the hack (and, oh yeah, it's crude).

There's a $29.99 product out there called PTFB Pro. PFTP means "push the freakin' button", which gives you an idea where this is going. PFTP Pro sits in your system tray and looks for specifically named windows that pop-up. At its most basic, when the window pops, PFTP is designed to click a button to make the window go away -- just the opposite of what we want.

But, apparently PFTP Pro can also trigger a macro on the window pop event. And (can ya feel it?) this is where this scheme begins to take form.

Using PFTP Pro (again, this is a theory), set it up to trigger a macro that brings the Reminder window to the front when the reminder window pops-up.

If you try it, and it works, let us know.