NEO Pro Makes Outlook More Productive

In the world of collaboration, email remains king, resulting in overloaded inboxes for many of us. Apparently, some 107 trillion email messages were sent in 2010. Dealing with all those messages takes a lot of time, so anything that makes the email experience more productive has the potential for considerable savings for businesses. NEO Pro 5.0 is one such product; it’s an add-on that promises to make the Outlook (s msft) experience more organized and productive.

Installation is straightforward; although if you have a large inbox, it may take some time to do its initial sync. After installation, you’ll discover that NEO Pro isn’t just a simple plugin for Outlook; it’s actually a separate program with its own interface that seamlessly syncs with Outlook. I actually quite like this approach; many of the third-party add-ons for Outlook that I’ve tried in the past have ended up cluttering my screen with additional toolbars and sidebars, leaving less real estate for the actual email. The interface is well designed and is similar to Outlook’s, with large panes showing the contents of your inbox and the currently selected email.

NEO Pro’s main strengths lie in two areas: its organizational and search features. The program automatically categorizes your email, and then offers many different views of it. By clicking on the tabs, you can switch to views showing email by date, status, attachment, or sender. Each view can then be further refined using filters, so you can quickly bring up a view that shows all of the emails in your inbox with Microsoft Word attachments, for example, and then refine that to only show emails with Word attachments from certain senders. NEO Pro’s search is virtually instantaneous; it’s much faster than Outlook’s own sluggish search on my machine. Search can either be performed on the whole email catalog, or on any filtered view of your email.

NEO Pro’s probably going to be most useful for power users who constantly deal with a lot of email; the wealth of organizational options and tools available (and correspondingly, the large number of buttons in the interface) might be off-putting for less experienced users and those who don’t deal with large volumes of email. That said, the interface is similar to Outlook’s, and there is plenty of documentation available, including a handy quick start guide.

NEO Pro’s a flexible and powerful email organizing tool that’s worth trialing if you or your users spend a large amount of time in Outlook. NEO Pro is little pricey: A single license costs $49.95, with volume discounts available. The 60-day free trial can be downloaded here. Note: NEO Pro 5  is not yet compatible with the 64-bit version of Outlook 2010; 64-bit support should be available in the next minor update.

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