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During the recent battle of the Worm.ExploreZip virus, my company wanted to send an important notice to clients warning them of the potential dangers of the virus. To grab clients' attention and differentiate this message from the myriad messages users get, the administrator set the Importance to High, put a flag symbol next to the message, and—most important—made the message sender and subject line appear in red. Here are the steps to accomplish these tasks:

  • To set the Importance to High, when composing the message, click Options. In the Message Settings section, change the Importance from Normal to High. (A shortcut is to click the red exclamation point icon on the toolbar.) This option doesn't change the speed of delivery; it simply puts a red exclamation point in the left margin of the Inbox next to the message.
  • To put a red flag in the margin, click the Flag for Follow Up button on the toolbar when you create a message, or select Actions, Flag for Follow Up. This step causes a flag to appear next to the message.
  • To make the sender's name and the subject line appear in red, stay in the Flag for Follow Up dialog box. Set a Reminder that is earlier than the current date and time. This warning will appear: The specified date and time are in the past. No reminder will be sent. Is this OK? Click OK to accept this message. When you click Send, another warning message will appear: The date and time on the follow-up flag for this message has passed. Click Yes to send the message anyway.

The result of these actions is a highly visible message in recipients' mailboxes. This functionality is usually available to clients within only your Exchange organization. However, in her April 1999 column, Sue Mosher explains how to get the same results with Internet recipients by sending the message in Rich Text Format (RTF). To retain the impact of highlighted messages, use these techniques sparingly.