Outlook Signatures

Filed under Office, Utilities

On a lark a few days ago, I decided I’d like to have random rotating quotes appended to my outgoing emails. I use GMail for mail preview (and access when I’m away from my desk), but usually, I use Outlook when I’m at my desk.

Supporting random email signatures in GMail is a topic for another day, and I’ve honestly not even investigated it at all.

But Outlook. Surely, I thought there must be a free little utility to do that out there.

Well there are a few, but most aren’t free, and the few that are, aren’t particularly well built from what I can tell.

The one free one I did see that seemed to hold promise was QLiner. After a quick install, and then converting some quotes to a plaintext file, I fired it up and set things up.

It works, but it seems finicky to me. For one, it doesn’t actually template out the signature, so much as it completely replaces the existing signature with a rebuilt version (with the new quote) on a configurable timeout. So if you sent 3 messages within 5 minutes, and the timeout was set to 10 minutes, it’s likely all 3 messages will have the same quote.

Plus, it seemed to just “stop working” after a time. I never could see a pattern to this, but, invariably, after a few days, I’d notice that the signature wasn’t changing anymore. Stopping and restarting the program fixed it each time, but that’s not the hallmark of a solid app.

In the end, I uninstalled it, and I believe I’m going to throw my hat in the ring on this one.

I’m calling it Sig-Licious. The idea is that it is a simple COM Outlook addin that monitors for new email creation events, intercepts it, and parses and replaces keywords in the signature with specific bits of info.

For instance, {Date}, {Quote}, {QuoteAuthor}, {CurrentTrack} (ie what piece of music you’re listening to right now, if any), etc, etc.

Any thoughts on what other variables might be nice? To totally geek it up, how bout any ol’ Environment Var? Or the content of a performance counter at the time? Or maybe your CPU fan speed? I’m thinking various Active Directory fields might be nice, if available. Or maybe info from arbitrary Text files? Or maybe info from arbitrary posts you store in specific folders within Outlook proper.

I’ll post something when I’ve got it a bit farther than just messageboxes<g>.

Or stop me before I get too far and tell me the URL of that nifty app you’ve found that can do all this. Please!


I found a few more apps out there for this. First, ADOLSign is 129$! For what is essentially a search and replace tool. Jeez.

Then there’s Exclaimer. It’s even more expensive, but does a lot more. For an enterprise setup, I could see spending a few bucks for this sort of functionality, but for your average joe, like me? Um, no.

I also just ran across Symprex Mail Signature Manager. It’s freakin’ expensive and you can only get a min 10 user license, and it appears to require Echange, but if you need something like that, it looks pretty complete.

And finally, Bells and Whistles. It’s also basically a glorified macro search and replace. 29$. Better, but still, 29$ for this?

So far, nothing for the loan gunman looking for nifty sigs. I think I’ll continue on with my little addin.


  1. Ralf says:

    Hey, you might peek at SigSwap (http://www.rblevin.net/sw_ss.htm) a freebie from Rich Levin.

    Granted, it’s basic — none of the cool taggy things you’re planning — but it has potential. Could even build an add-on (to the add-on) and mokney with the plaintext file SigSwap uses and embed your tags there.

    Disclaimers: I’m not Rich Levin. I don’t use SigSwap; never seen it. Don’t even use OutLook. I’m not wearing pants.

  2. Darin says:

    Interesting, but Rich’s app is very much like QLiner that I mentioned. Basically, it’s an exe that runs in your systray and essentially just copies one of any number of "signature" files, replacing the main "signature" file that Outlook actually loads.
    While that approach is ok, I suppose, getting variables into the signature doesn’t appear to be supported. Plus, as far as I can tell, it doesn’t support the HTML and RTF sigs that Outlook supports.

    I was all about to put SigLicious up last night when I realized that there’s actually a menu item (or ribbon button) that allows you to insert a signature after the email has already been opened.

    Doh! Kinda messes up my plan of only parsing the email for tags once when the email is first opened. Still not the end of the world. I just have to intercept those menu items and perform a parse afterwards as well (ok, not quite so simple, but not terrible either).

    Just out of curiousity, what email client do you prefer? I’ve looked at thunderbird (though not the very latest version), but wasn’t blown away enough to convince me to switch…

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