Nelson Email Organizer Pro 4.0 (NEO Pro)
PROS: Flexibility lets Outlook users adapt it to their needs; great Help resources
CONS: So many options means less-organized Outlook users might find using it overwhelming at first
RATING:4.5 out of 5
PRICE: Starts at $47.45 per seat, volume licensing available
RECOMMENDATION: If you or your users have to wade through a lot of Outlook email, NEO Pro is worth trying for its organizing capabilities and fast Search. CONTACT: Caelo Software • www.caelo.com

As I installed Nelson Email Organizer Pro 4.0 (NEO Pro), a Microsoft Outlook add-on from Caelo Software, I anticipated pain: I’m the type who uses a minimum of folders in Outlook and views Inbox as a catch-all. But instead, I found NEO Pro a nimble program with many organizing options and surprising flexibility.

NEO Pro is a client-side product that creates a catalog independent of Outlook, analyzing the messages you receive and organizing them by indexed attributes such as correspondent, attachment type, and date. It indexes messages even while Outlook continues to update your messages, but no part of NEO Pro is stored on the server and only indexes to messages are stored in NEO Pro’s catalog.

Installation was easy and the various videos and tutorials were clear. The Outlook-style interface offered rows of clickable icons, drop-down menus and commands. Using the tabs nearest the viewing panes I could click Hot, Correspondent, Bulk Mail, Category, Status, Date, Attachment, or Search and quickly find email indexed by that attribute. A message could be found under multiple tabs, depending on its attributes. For example, a new message from Paul Thurrott would be indexed under Thurrott in the Correspondent tab, under Active in the Status tab, under JPG in the Attachment tab, which Figure 1 shows, and at the top of the list in the Hot tab.

NEO Pro’s tutorials recommend spending most of your time at the Hot tab, the equivalent of an Inbox, but I found the Correspondent tab equally useful. True, I could have stayed in Outlook (which was running the whole time) and clicked the From tab in my Inbox to see an alphabetical list of senders and their email messages, but NEO Pro’s view of clickable names was quicker to navigate.

The Status tab displays nodes for Active Mail, To Do, Flagged, and Unread. Active Mail is “a staging area” for email you haven’t acted on, the Help files say. I found the Hot tab more useful.

At the Bulk Mail tab, you’ll find mailing list messages and junk mail. If you do nothing, both of these types of messages get filed in your Unsorted Bulk Mail folder under the Bulk Mail tab. I right-clicked my way into dialog boxes that helped me organize messages from my employer’s corporate office into one folder and create a “Behavior” so future messages would go there as well.

Because a lot of my email contains attachments, I used the Attachment tab often. In the left pane, the Attachment Folders menu displayed nodes labeled by attachment type, from DOC to ZIP. Clicking JPG, I immediately had access to all my email messages that had .jpg images attached.

In Outlook, Search is my main method for slogging through my mailbox, and slog it does. In NEO Pro, I clicked the Search tab, typed a search word, and set it to search all messages. Instantly, the pertinent emails appeared.

NEO Pro succeeds in anticipating ways you might want to organize your email and giving you options to do so. Even better to me, though, is that it gives you the flexibility to choose what options to use.

NEO Pro works with Personal Folders and with all Exchange Server mailboxes using Outlook 2007 and earlier and all versions of Exchange Server, though not with Outlook Express. It operates on Windows Vista and earlier, with or without Exchange Server.