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SNARF Guide and Help

This guide explains how to use SNARF.

  1. First-time use
  2. E-mail triage
  3. Awareness of incoming e-mail
  4. Reading e-mail discussion threads

Look at the descriptions for detailed descriptions of all of SNARF's functions.

First-time use

When SNARF launches for the first time, it shows two windows: A Startup window and an Indexing Status window. The Indexing Status window shows the status of SNARF indexing all mail in Outlook. This can take up to 10 minutes on some machines, and may take longer on laptops or those with a lot of e-mail. However, once SNARF has completed this the first time, the index will run much faster for all future runs (usually under 1 minute). It is possible to stop the indexing by clicking the Cancel button on the Indexing Status window - however, this is not recommended as SNARF will continue to run but with just a subset of Outlook's e-mail.

The Startup window has a link to SNARF's Web Help, and some introductory text. This window can be closed at any time. The help link is also available on SNARF's main menu. And the option to start SNARF when Windows starts is also available under Menu-Options on SNARF's main menu. So once the text has been read, the user can choose to not show the window at SNARF startup in the future without loosing functionality.

Once SNARF is done indexing, the SNARF Main window will appear. See E-mail triage to start learning the main features of SNARF.

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E-mail triage

This view gives an overview of recent e-mail, to help with e-mail triage. Each pane shows a list of people with their associated messages. To read the messages for a listed person, double-click on their name to see the Message List. If there is just one message, SNARF will open it directly. SNARF shows 3 panes by default. At the top of each pane is a header that lists its name, along with a count of messages and people currently listed in the view. The first pane shows the people who have sent messages over the last week, that are still unread. The message must list the user's name in the To or CC lines to be included in this list - so this pane is most likely going to contain the most important e-mails. The second pane is like the first pane, but will include mail that does not list the user's name in the To or CC lines. The third pane lists all people involved in all mail over the last week. This includes both read and unread e-mail. Note that this view, unlike the first two, lists all participants in the e-mail, and not just the senders. So a single message may be counted multiple times - once for each participant that is listed here.

All the lists sort the people by their relationship to the user. SNARF uses social accounting meta-data to determine this. By default, this is determined by the number of messages the user has sent to each of the people in the last month or year. That is, the more messages sent to that person, the higher they will appear in the list.

For more information, see SNARF Main window for a full list of features, and Settings for how to customize a pane or view.

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Awareness of incoming e-mail

The panes in SNARF can be individually sized, using the gray splitter control between each pane. A pane can quickly shrink or grow by double-clicking on its header. When a pane is shrunk, the count of messages and people can still be seen, without taking up much of the screen. For example, in this picture with all panes shrunk, one can quickly see that the top pane has 5 recent unread messages with the user's name in the To or CC.

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Reading Threads

The Thread View gives an overview of an entire discussion thread, as well as the text of all messages in that conversation - all in a single window.

After receiving many messages in an e-mail thread, right-click on a person in the SNARF main window, and choose Open in Thread View to view the entire conversation. The Unread messages will appear with black text, and Read messages in gray. Individual messages can be marked as Read, or the entire thread can be deleted (and much more), all from within SNARF.

This view is most useful for reading mail from distribution lists, with large active threads. See the Thread View section for more information on customizing the appearance of messages (e.g., which ones will be summarized with just one line), and behaviors of this view. There is an option in the Message List to have SNARF use the Thread View to show all messages. Return to the Guide