Last week ,we reviewed gwabbit, an app that aims to automatically pull contact data from emails in Outlook. Scott Blitstein was positive about gwabbit, but it didn’t work as well for me when I tried it: sometimes it was unable to extract my contact data, even though it was cleanly presented in the email’s signature block.
I really like the idea of being able to extract that useful information without having to manually copy and paste, though, so when Nicholas Maddix of Textual emailed me to tell me about Anagram, a similar Windows app, and it was also recommended by a couple of commenters on our gwabbit review, I thought I’d check it out.
Anagram is like gwabbit in that you can use it to extract contact data from emails. However, it’s more flexible, in that you can use it to capture information from any text, not just emails, and it’s not restricted to contacts: Anagram will examine any text you throw at it and automatically attempt to capture calendar events, to-do items and notes, too. Here’s a quick screencast of it in action capturing some contact data and adding a calendar event to Outlook:
WebWorkerDaily Screencast: Anagram from Simon Mackie on Vimeo.
Unlike gwabbit, Anagram is not limited to Outlook. It can work with a variety of different target applications:
- Microsoft Outlook
- Palm Desktop/Agendus
Anagram works very well and it’s very easy to use, too. You activate Anagram by highlighting your target text snippet (this can be in an email, on a web site or in a document), then hitting a hotkey combination. By default, the hotkey is tapping ctrl-c quickly twice in succession, which I think feels very natural, but you can change it to a function key if you prefer. Anagram parses the text, figures out what type of information the text contains, launches the target app (if it’s not already open) and populates the fields automatically. All you have to do is check that the information is correct and save the data. In my tests, it was very accurate with little to no manual intervention required. Anagram is a simple app, but if you use one of its target applications and find copying and pasting contact information a chore, it’s definitely worth a try.
Do you use Anagram or a similar app?