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Sharing Information Between Outlook & Entourage, and Vice Versa

Volume Number: 22 (2006)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: Mac Enterprise

Sharing Information Between Outlook & Entourage, and Vice Versa

by Paul T. Ammann

Corporate environments are known for being heterogeneous environments and being able to move information between different systems is very important. And, it's very common for a corporate environment to use Microsoft's Exchange server as the company's platform for email, scheduling meetings, setting up contacts, and sharing information through public folders.

Windows users frequently use Outlook to connect to Exchange. Many Mac users have standardized on Entourage. But, what happens if you want to share data between Outlook and Entourage.

In this article, I will introduce you to two utilities that will allow to move information from Outlook to Entourage, and vice versa.

Outlook2Mac

For those of you that don't know .pst and .pab files are Outlook's way of storing email and addresses locally.. However there are three ways to get this data from your Outlook client (2000, 2001, and XP) into Entourage. Let's briefly take a moment to review our options. The two best options will require a PC, although Virtual PC, Parallels, and Boot Camp will work fine as well.

    1. The "official" way requires you could upload all of that mail to the server, and the re-download it again. This has the benefit of being very straightforward, and relatively simple. However, the reason that most people have a .pst in the first place is that they have more mail than the server will allow.

    2. If you have too much mail to forward through your server, third parties have outlined a more complex procedure that involves moving the pst to Windows, importing it into Outlook Express, importing that in Eudora, and then processing the resulting mbx files into mbox files with some $20 shareware AppleScripts. Then you can drag and drop the results into Entourage. It should be noted though that this method will not import contacts or email attachments.

    3. The best method we've found to date is a commercial product from Little Machines called Outlook2Mac. This $10 (yes, just $10!) application runs on a PC and will convert whatever you want into mbox files that you can drag and drop into Entourage (as well as other mail clients). It has a lot of flexibility and can export by folder and date range. It also will export with attachments and gives you the ability to filter the export by size and file type. Lastly, it will do your contacts as well. This will be the best $10 you will spend.

To install and start Outlook2Mac, you will need download the program and install it on a Windows PC that is running Outlook. Outlook2Mac supports Microsoft Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP or higher running Outlook 97, 98, 2000, 2003, or XP.

According Little Machine's Web site, it is recommended that you use Outlook2Mac while Microsoft Outlook is open, because O2M runs a little faster if Outlook is already running. However, they caution you to not actively use Outlook while using Outlook2Mac. If you send mail, move folders, delete mail, or perform other Outlook actions while Outlook2Mac is scanning Outlook or exporting your data, Outlook2Mac might get confused and fail to finish its job, requiring you to restart it.

The beauty of Outlook2Mac is the variety options available at your fingertips:

  • You can pick one folder, or multiple folders (see Figure 1).

  • You can convert all email regardless of date, or select range of dates.

  • For large attachments, you can tell Outlook2Mac to skip file attachments of a specific size, or convert everything.

  • Because some email file attachments, such as .exe and .bat files, may only be compatible with Windows, you can select the kinds of file attachments that will not be transferred to Entourage.

  • When converting your calendar, you have the option of selecting all your appointments or with a date range.

  • Additionally, you can choose to have your calendar converted to Apple iCal file.

  • When you send or receive an Outlook meeting invitation, the invite contains the names of everyone who is invited. Outlook2Mac will try to convert these names into valid email addresses so you can replay or respond to invitations by email on the Mac.



Figure 1: Selecting which folders to convert

You can find straightforward directions on how to use Outlook2Mac at http://www.littlemachines.com/o2m/help/wizard.html.

From Entourage To Outlook

Converting information to Entourage to Outlook is a bit more of a challenge, and web searches don't yield a lot of great results on this. But there's hope. Paul Berkowitz has developed a number of specialized AppleScripts for Entourage.

Paul's invaluable Export-Import Entourage 1.3.9 is a collection of over 50 scripts to export and import almost everything - Contacts, Groups, Calendar Events, Tasks, Notes, Messages, Folders, Accounts, Signatures, Mailing Lists and Categories - from one identity of Entourage X or 2004 to any other, to and from Entourage 2001, and to transfer Contacts, Calendar, Tasks and Notes to and from other PIM programs on the Mac and Windows, with special converters for Microsoft Outlook, Excel and other programs.



Figure 2: Export-Import Entourage has many scripts to meet your needs

The scripts enable archiving, restoration, and data synching or transporting. Some operations are not possible for all types of data, and some are not possible to or from programs that do not support the functions required. The Outlook and Other Converters transfer contacts, calendar, tasks and notes -- there are instructions for transferring messages without scripts in the ReadMe.

Export-Import Entourage is shareware ($20.00). You may use two copies of the same or different versions (2004/X and/or 2001) for one registration payment. There is a one-time free Demo mode for exporting and importing 25 contacts.

You can visit Paul Berkowitz Web site at http://homepage.mac.com/berkowit28.

Building On Entourage

Entourage does a lot, but many times you want to go even further. Fortunately, there is a way to make Entourage do practically anything that you want it to, by using AppleScript.

About Entourage's AppleScript Support

Entourage is very scriptable. It has an extensive AppleScript dictionary, which defines the AppleScript commands that the application will understand. Dictionaries also define all the objects that programmers can manipulate with AppleScript commands. Objects can be all sorts of things within Entourage, such as windows, contact records, individual fields, email account setups, calendar events, and so on. Because Entourage is so scriptable, programmers can write scripts to extend Entourage's capabilities in many ways, enabling the program to perform actions that it otherwise could not. For example, there's no way within Entourage to duplicate a calendar event. But you can easily download and install a script that will do just that.

Teaching AppleScript is beyond the scope of this article, so unfortunately the rest of this article won't show you how to write your own AppleScript. But you will see how you can use the power of AppleScript within Entourage, even if you're not a programmer, by using scripts written by people who are experienced developers.

Finding and Installing Cool Scripts

You can download AppleScripts from many places on the Web, but there are a few sites that stand out.

  • AppleScript Central (www.applescriptcentral.com) has a large collection of AppleScripts for both Entourage and many other programs. Updated frequently, this site should be your first stop when looking for useful AppleScripts for Entourage.

  • Allen Watson's Website is no longer available.

  • Mactopia (www.mactopia.com) is Microsoft's own Web site for all things Macintosh. A number of AppleScripts are available on the Downloads page of the site. Choose Help, Downloads and Updates to open the Mactopia Downloads page in your Web browser, and then look or AppleScripts.

Once you've downloaded the scripts you are interested in, follow these steps to install them in the Users/username/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Entourage Script Menu Items folder. Once installed, confirm it's installed by switching back to Entourage and make sure that the script appears in Entourage's Scripts menu (Entourage's Scripts menu is the menu furthest to the right on Entourage's menu bar).

Wrapping It Up

That's it! The secret is out of the box. Regardless of whether you prefer Windows or OS X, being able to transfer information between systems can be paramount and the utilities profiled in this article will go a long way to information sharing a breeze. And, if you are looking to build on the base that Entourge provides, AppleScript may be a great solution for you.


Paul T. Ammann has been working in IT for almost 20 years now. He is happily married to his wife Eve for 7 years, and lives in New Fairfield, CT. He finds writing the author's bio the toughest part the article. He can be contacted at ptammann@yahoo.com.

 
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