September 26, 2009

'Fun' with M$ Office.2

For ages, I have wrestled with Entourage, which I love. I really do. But, like the people I love, it sometimes does things in a way that's not the way I would have done it if I were them.

Entourage's Tasks list, for example, can be sorted by due date, or priority, or alphabetically. But, given three items of equal importance with the same due date, it won't let you manually move one to the top because it's a prerequisite for another. Or move one to the bottom because it can't be done because some prerequisite piece of the project yet to be recieved from another person or department.

And there's no obvious way to export the Task list as an editable text file.

Well, I finally discovered this article which describes how to get Tasks out of Entourage using BBEdit. Why I never found it before, I can't imagine. Perhaps it's Google page rank wasn't high enough before. I don't know. I'm just glad to finally be able to get my Tasks out of Entourage and into something editable.

The article was written in 2005, but I tried the technique using BBEdit's sibling, TextWrangler, and it worked just as well. Dragging into Word, however, copies only the first item in a group. So you have to drag each task individually. That means if you have 12 tasks, it will take you 12 times as long to copy them into Word as into TextWrangler.

Oddly, while Word only picks up the first item in a grouped list of tasks, Apple's TextEdit only picks up the last. So TextWrangler rules.

Once you get the tasks out of Entourage and into TextWrangler or BBEdit, they can then be imported into OmniOutliner for even more control. Love it.

This simple drag-and-drop export method also works with Notes and Calendar items.

If only the things ON my to-do list could be handled so easily.

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