If you use Outlook, did you know you can use Word to do mail merge to create custom emails to a group of people? If not you should check out this Microsoft Web page: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HA011464811033.aspx

MAPILabs(http://www.mapilab.com) can take that great feature and make it even more powerful. They have an inexpensive ($24) Word/Outlook add-on that “fixes” two huge Word merge to email limitations.

Word merge to email won’t let you have attachments. In the past my way around this was to put Outlook into “work offline” mode, do the merge, open all the messages in my outbox and manually (or using a macro) attach the file or files, and then switch back to online mode to send the messages.

WithMail Merge Toolkit, I can now select to merge to the toolkit which lets me attach the files right at the time of merging.

The other limitation Mail Merge Toolkit“fixes” is I can now do merge substitutions in the subject line of the email, letting me personalize an email more. Either of these two limitations makeMail Merge Toolkitworth every penny, of course it has other features too.

Another relatedMAPILabsadd-on that is inexpensive (also $24) isSend Personally.

If you want to send the same email to a bunch of people, you can stick all their email addresses in the TO field. That really makes some people mad since it discloses their email addresses to other recipients (want to see how mad, just do that to a large group of journalists, you’ll get flamed in public as they reply all to tell you how stupid you are).

The alternative is to send that email to yourself and use the BCC for the list. But many spam filters assume that BCC sent emails are spam, so some of your recipients won’t get that party invitation.

Send Personallyadds a button to your Outlook next to the send button. If you click theSend Personallybutton, it takes the long list of emails in the TO field and sends the email to each one as if you had done it individually. You can even do some limited data merging without resorting to doing a full scale Word merge.

MAPILabshas other Outlook add-on’s that I’ll write about later.