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Summary:

I’m often surprised by the number of people who use Microsoft Outlook as their primary email and information manager who don’t also take full advantage of its contact capabilities. While I wouldn’t say it compares with a full blown CRM system, it is certainly a capable […]

gwabbit_logoI’m often surprised by the number of people who use Microsoft Outlook as their primary email and information manager who don’t also take full advantage of its contact capabilities. While I wouldn’t say it compares with a full blown CRM system, it is certainly a capable program for maintaining contact information.

I think the main reason for this lack of adoption is that the process for capturing and maintaining this supplemental information in Outlook is just too tedious. The information you need is likely included in all those email signatures, but it takes a lot of cutting and pasting to parse it out and place it in to the proper fields.

Enter gwabbit – an Outlook plug-in, launched today at DEMO, that makes this process ridiculously easy.

gwabbit - capture screenThe idea is simple really. Gwabbit runs in the background, scanning your email and alerting you if it finds new contact information within. A single click of the gwabbit button and it creates (or updates) a contact record with the info it gathers.

The update functionality is particularly handy, as it can let you know when the information you have is out-of-date or incorrect.

I’ve been playing around with gwabbit for about a week now and it generally works as advertised. Depending on how your contacts arrange their information, it can occasionally get confused but it was always easier to clean up than it would have been to start from scratch. If it finds ambiguous or incomplete information, it will also prompt you to clean it up or correct it. Highlighting the signature block can help point it to the right place.

The notifications can initially be overwhelming, so it’s good that you can configure them. I ended up turning off all prompts and just using it manually to capture information a bit more selectively. It was really quite easy to go through my email archives and quickly build up a contact list.

Obviously, once this information is stored in Outlook it’s easy to sync to a multitude of mobile devices or export for use in your CRM.

gwabbit isn’t a life-changing application by any means, but if Outlook is the hub of your communication and contact info, it is a handy way to automate something you’re already doing, or should be doing, pretty regularly.

gwabbit is obviously Windows-only but it does support a myriad of Outlook versions from 2000 up to the current Outlook 2007.

A downloadable 14-day trial is available that you can use for up to 20 contacts, above which it will cost $19.95.

Do you use Outlook to maintain your contacts? How complete is the information you keep?

  1. I use Outlook at work. I just downloaded Gwabbit and it is GREAT! I went back into all my emails with signatures and saved them in seconds. Really a no brainer.

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  2. Pretty cool plugin. I might have to download it when my job migrates to Outlook. I currently use Gmail and their Google Contacts.

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  3. Definitely worth paying $19.99 for. How many times have we forgotten to save a client’s details and had to trawl through emails to find it in their footer…!

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  4. Anagram is another software that does this type of thing. Who uses Outlook? Noone reading this blog I hope. I am using something else no need to plug another company, but why don’t these programs convert to vcard format? Then you could use them for 100’s more applications.

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  5. Maseratij, there are millions of Outlook users. Very popular with businesses. So there are plenty of people out there.

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  6. I’m using Outlook so i will definitely download and test the plug-in. Seems interesting.

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  7. @maseratij why would you “hope” that no-one reading WWD uses Outlook? It’s a very good e-mail, calendaring and contacts app used by lots of people.

    Most email apps do use vcards. Outlook, for example, can import and exports contacts to vcard

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  8. Let me retreat gracefully. I am not working in a corporate environment as a Realtor. What is interesting about this blog for me is the focus on doing business with new web tools for greater productivity, that adapt to a changing social and work arena’s of the 21st century. Since there are several writers that contribute to this blog, I sometimes transfer the opinions of one writer to this blog in general. There has been more reviews of Outlook alternatives in this space than there have been of Outlook, in this space, by a wide margin. In regards to Outlook, as a single user, the size of the .pst grew ever and ever larger, with archiving in place as well. Took forever to load, took up a lot of resources, and that was before any add-in’s were enabled. I can live without Outlook so I do. Sorry if I came across as intolerant.

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  9. @simon You are write most email apps do have vcard compatibility so why not have something like the software reviewed here, do its business in Vcard format. Instead of directly into Outlook and outlook onl.

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  10. @maseratij I think I see what you mean, but then you’d have to have another program running apart from your email client. I guess gwabbit went after Outlook because it’s a huge market. I’ll wait for Gmail to add this functionality as a Labs feature :)

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