Xobni for Outlook

Xobni is an ingenious little utility for Outlook that's worth checking out. And what's more it's free.

Download Xobni

Basically here's what you get for nothing:

  • contact information provided by LinkedIn and Facebook
  • threaded conversations
  • lightning fast search of Outlook e-mail
  • quick attachment discovery

Especially given its price, this application is simply a must-have for anyone who lives in Outlook. Xobni is "Inbox" spelled backward. The reason behind the name (as per the company blurb) is that this tool allows you to look at your e-mail inbox from a whole new perspective. The add-on improves management of messages and contacts, one of Outlook's biggest shortcomings. It provides functionality that Outlook should deliver natively, and does so without affecting the e-mail client's performance. Given our focus on Contact Management and CRM at OutlookWise and ExchangeWise, the fact that Xobni organises e-mail by person/contact makes it a very noteworthy product. So instead of treating e-mail conversations, contacts, and calendars as separate entities, Xobni weaves them together in a responsive, intuitive interface.

In a quick summary, Xobni incorporates itself into Outlook as an additional pane of information to the right side of the Outlook interface that slides open when you need it and back when you don't. It collects and efficiently presents information related to the selected sender or recipient of the e-mail that is chosen.

Xobni requires Outlook 2003 or 2007, and runs on Windows XP or Vista. When you install Xobni, it indexes your mail, so you can search for contacts and text. The add-on uses the indexed information to create contact profiles, as well.

If you're reading a message from John Smith, for example, it shows the number of e-mail messages John has sent you, broken down by the time of day they were sent. From this information, you can tell if John tends not to respond until a certain time of day, so you can anticipate when he might reply to future e-mail.

Your contact profiles show (with a photo, if you have one) in the top of the Xobni pane; the application also displays each contact's phone number, which it extracts from e-mail messages. Below each contact profile, you see a thread of conversations you've had and files you've exchanged. You can quickly find and view threads by specific topics; a slider control reveals more or fewer lines of the conversation.

Xobni also creates a kind of social network by keeping track of any additional recipients on e-mail messages sent to you. You can add your friends' contacts to your address book or quickly draft e-mail to them from within Xobni. This includes anyone that has been included as a recipient in an e-mail to or from the contact. This allows you to quickly determine other related contacts that could be a resource for information related to a previous e-mail. If you hover over the person’s name you can see their e-mail and phone number if they exist in your address book already, or just their e-mail address if they aren’t currently in your address book. If you have Skype's VoIP service on your PC, Xobni integrates with it nicely; a quick tap of a phone number within a Xobni profile generates a SkypeOut call. Two template options also appear in this pane: One creates a blank e-mail, and the other creates a meeting request. For the latter, Xobni saves you time by autofilling the request with open time slots pulled from your Outlook Calendar.

You can use Xobni for simple searches within Outlook, too, and it often returns results much more quickly than Outlook's search does. Xobni also goes far beyond speedy searching, providing logical social information and extended functionality that Outlook simply doesn't.

One can also see a list of attachments that have been included in previous e-mails with the selected contact. How many times have you been reading a response to a message and it references an earlier attachment with some kind of data in it you needed. Now you no longer have to exit out of the message you’re reading to go find the attachment with the information you need out of the attachment. If you hover over the attachment information you can see the text of the e-mail message that included the attachment. To open the document in it’s default viewer all you need to do is click on it.

Another feature available is the Xobni Analytics. There are loads of graphs and charts providing information like:

  • Daily summaries
  • Mail traffic
  • response times
  • unique contacts
  • folders used
  • subjects
  • recipient types
  • flag status
  • context of e-mails

and lots more.

Download Xobni from here