System requirements

Project Colletta will install on 32-bit or 64-bit Windows Vista or Windows 7.

It requires Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 and Internet Explorer (IE) 7, 8 and 9. The hard disc footprint is quite modest but, as this is a managed suite of tools, at least 1GB of RAM is recommended.

It is also recommended to install the latest drivers, particularly graphics drivers, for your PC (from the manufacturer’s site if necessary) before you start the install.

How to install

Step 1 Download
Download the Project Colletta installer and unzip to some local directory.

Step 2 Before installing
Make sure no Internet Explorer or Office application windows are open. If you are upgrading from a previous version, it is strongly recommended to uninstall the old version first, reboot, and then install the new version - your existing tags will be preserved.

Step 3 Run Setup
To install run setup.exe. This will install any necessary prerequisites, such as the .NET 4 client framework, along with Project Colletta itself. A wizard will guide you through the installation.

Once installed, you can find the Project Colletta DeskBar within Microsoft Research Project Colletta in your Programs list on the Start button.

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A number of applications support the addition tags to specific document types, but there is little that brings the different applications together. Project Colletta spans multiple document types (including email items and URLs as well as file system objects) and exposes the tags outside of the applications.

Project Colletta consists of two main components that enable tag creation, editing and access, called the DeskBar and the DocBar:


The DeskBar is located at the top of your primary screen. Its main purpose is to provide access to the complete list of your tags and their associated resources (documents, emails, web pages) as well as to host shortcuts to tags.

The menu showing your complete list of tags is called the Manager. It provides access to all the tags you have defined and is also the means for managing those tags. Clicking the triangle icon on the DeskBar will display or hide it.

When you click on each tag, a documents window will appear to the right listing documents associated with that tag. Hover over a document to see its thumbnail and some metadata. Double-clicking on the tag (or clicking the pin on the documents window) will cause the documents window to be pinned to the desktop.

When you click on a tag you also “select” it to be able to perform a subsequent operation via the right-click or context menu: the available options change slightly depending on whether you selected one or more tags or documents. You can select a group of tags by pressing the control key while clicking other tags.

On the DeskBar itself a list of pinned tags gives you quick access to selected tags. Clicking the system icon on the left end of the DeskBar pops up a short menu of system related options.


For a range of supported applications, namely Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Acrobat Reader and IE, we have designed a toolbar called the DocBar that sits at the bottom of the application window (note that the DeskBar component of Project Colletta has to be running for the DocBar to appear). From here you can quickly add and remove tags and access related documents.

The triangle icon is used to open the Editor, a lightweight tagging mechanism that allows you to link documents with existing or new tags or to break that link.

The Editor has two views: RECENT, which is a summary, indicating currently linked tags and a set of most recently used tags; and ALL, which provides a full view of all your tags. You toggle between these using the and button at the bottom of the Editor window.

If you start typing in the text box at the bottom of the Editor, the view switches to all tags automatically and filters the tag list based on text matching. Hitting Enter here will associate the document with the selected tag, creating a new tag with the specified name if no others match. Within the Editor, hovering over each item shows a or graphic which indicates that the tag can be linked to or unlinked from the document. Clicking on the Tray tag, a placeholder tag, or any of the icon tags, called functional tags, will attach/detach those tags from the document.

On the DocBar, clicking the system icon on the left pops up a short menu of system related options. For files, the folder icon can be used to open a Windows Explorer window in the directory containing the current document. Next to the folder icon is a list of associated tags and a list of linked functional tags. These tags have right-click or context menus which allow you to detach them from the document. Finally, at the right end of the DocBar, the icon hides a small text editor window allowing you to add notes to the document.

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Tag creation and editing

There are alternative ways of tagging your files; depending on whether the file is open or closed, whether you want to apply one or more tags to one or more documents, you will find one way or another more convenient. In the interface, components used for tagging are the Editor on the DocBar for supported applications, a “floating” version of the Editor, and the Manager on the DeskBar:

  • Tagging via the Editor allows you to apply one or more tags to a single open file (using Microsoft Internet Explorer, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote and Acrobat Reader applications only).
  • Tagging via the Floating Editor allows you to apply one or more tags to a single closed file (any file type).
  • Tagging via the Manager allows you to add one or more files to a single tag (any file type).

Creating a tag

To create a new tag, go to the Manager. At the top of the window is a text box which can be used to filter the list below to show only tags which contain the typed letters. You can create tags by typing a new name here and hitting Enter. The new tag will be added to the list.

To learn how to add documents to a new tag see Tagging a document.

As a special case, you can also create a new tag by dragging and dropping a directory from Windows Explorer on to an empty space on the Manager window. The new tag will take the directory name as its label and all the files in the directory will be associated with this new tag.

Tagging a document

Tagging Microsoft Office and PDF documents

Certain applications (Internet Explorer, Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Acrobat Reader) have a DocBar attached to the bottom of the application window which allows you to tag documents while they are open.

To add one or more tags to a document do one of the following:

  • Go to the Editor and type a tag name into the text box at the bottom. The list of tags will be filtered to only show matching tags. If no existing tags match what you typed, a new tag will be created. Press Enter to add the tag to your document.
  • Go to the Editor and select one or more tags you want to add to your document from the list of tags. To see a list of all tags or recently created tags only switch between and located at the bottom of the Editor window.

Added tags will be highlighted in grey in the list of ALL tags or will move to the top of the list in the list of RECENT tags. They will also appear on the DocBar.

Tagging other types of document

The following two options allow you to tag any file type as long as you have access to the file:

  • Go to the Manager. Now find the file you want to tag (e.g., in Windows Explorer or elsewhere in the Project Colletta interface) and drag it onto the tag you want to apply in the Manager or the tag’s open documents window. You can also drag documents from the documents windows onto other tags or documents windows. You can tag multiple files by dragging a set of files onto a tag. If you drop a shortcut file on to a tag, the shortcut link will be followed and the target file will be associated with the tag. And note that you can also drag URLs from IE's address bar on to tags.

  • On Windows Explorer right-click one or more selected tags. From the context menu select Edit Project Colletta links. When you select this menu item, you see a floating Editor window pop up. To add tags to the document proceed as outlined in Tagging Microsoft Office documents.

Un-tagging a document

To detach a tag from a document do one of the following:

  • Go to the Editor and select one or more tags you want to detach from the top of the list in the RECENT list or from the tags that are highlighted in grey in the ALL list – those are the tags that are currently attached to your document. Removed tags will also disappear from the DocBar.
  • Right-click a tag on the DocBar and select Detach from the pop-up menu.

Note that detaching a tag from a document will not remove the tag for any other documents associated with the tag. Go to Deleting a tag to learn how to remove a tag from all its associated documents.

To detach a document from a tag:

Go to the Manager select a tag to see its associated documents. Right-click the document you want to detach from the tag and select Remove from activity from the context menu.

Note: detaching a tag from a document will not delete the document.

Deleting a tag

Deleting a tag will remove the tag from all documents associated with the tag. However, unlike deleting a folder, deleting a tag will not delete any documents associated with the tag.

To delete a tag open the Manager. Select one or more tags you want to delete, then right-click the selected tag(s) and select Delete [tag name] / Delete tags from the pop-up menu.

Tip: You can select multiple tags by holding down the Ctrl key during selection.

Renaming a tag

To rename a tag open the Manager, right-click the tag you want to rename and select Properties from the context menu. Edit the tag name in the Name text box and click OK.

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Working with tags

In addition to tag labels as discussed above, there are two additional types of tags:

  • Functional tags: these are markers such as importance levels or reminders to email or print a document.
  • The Tray: this is a single instance specific tag which exists as a temporary scratch pad for the “current” activity, somewhere to put things until you work out what you want to do with them (at which point you can make the tray become a normal tag and a new tray is automatically created).

Generally functional tags are specific to a document, rather than being seen as a means of collecting documents together. However, at times it is useful to process these tags as groups of documents, if only to show the complete set of documents (e.g. all ‘To Print’ files). The right end of the DeskBar is reserved for icons of those functional tags which have one or more associated documents.

Functional tags

Functional tags are markers indicating levels of importance or reminder to act on a document in a certain way (e.g. print or email). They are represented as icons in the interface.

Tagging documents with functional tags

To add a functional tag to a document open the Editor and select one or more functional tags from the bottom of the window. Attached functional tags will appear highlighted in the Editor and on the right end of the DocBar.

Creating functional tags

One way you can create a functional tag is by first creating a tag (see Creating a tag) and then converting it to a functional tag. To do this, select Properties from the tag’s context menu to open the Edit tag name dialogue box, select an appropriate icon from the list and make sure the Functional tag? check box is ticked before clicking OK.

Alternatively, you can click the New button at the bottom of the Manager to create a new functional tag and then proceed as outlined above, optionally changing the default tag name (usually “Functional Tag #”).

Editing a functional tag

To edit a functional tag go to the Manager and right- click the functional tag you want to edit and select Properties from the context menu. On the Edit tag name dialogue change the tag name and/or icon. Make sure the Functional tag? check box is ticked. Click OK.

Deleting a functional tag

At the bottom of the Manager window is a list of the available functional tags. To delete a functional tag right-click the one you want to delete and select Delete from the context menu.

The Tray

The Tray is a special tag: this appears at the start of the pinned tag list on the DeskBar, and cannot be moved elsewhere. It always exists and is intended to be a dumping ground for potentially useful documents to be organised later. If you rename the Tray (via the Properties menu item), a new empty Tray is created.

To add a document to the Tray, go to the Editor and select the Tray button at the bottom. The document has been tagged when the Tray button is highlighted.

Annotating documents

The icon on the right of the DocBar pops up a notes window into which you can type a short piece of text; some formatting commands are available on a right-click menu within the note editing surface.

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Accessing tagged documents

There are several ways of accessing documents in Project Colletta: first, the entire collection of tagged documents is accessible via the Manager. Second, quick access to a subset of documents can be achieved by pinning a selection of tags to the DeskBar. Finally, for documents with DocBars there is also quick access to related documents, i.e. documents sharing tags with the current document.

Opening a tagged document

To open a document in its default application, do one of the following:

  • On the Manager, DeskBar or DocBar, click a tag to show the documents window. Double click the document to open it.
  • On the Manager or DeskBar click a tag to show the documents window. Right-click on a document and select Open document from the context menu.

Hovering over a document in the list will cause a tooltip-like popout to appear containing a thumbnail of the document (if available) and some metadata.

Note: When accessing documents via the DocBar the current document does appear in the documents window’s list, but greyed out.

Opening a document’s directory (for files only)

Throughout the interface Project Colletta provides access to a document’s file location. To open a documents file location, do one of the following:

  • On the DocBar click the folder icon.
  • On the Manager or DeskBar click a tag to show the documents window. Right-click a document and select Open document folder from the context menu.

The directory containing the file will be shown in a new instance of Windows Explorer.

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Managing tags

Merging tags

Merge tags if you want to combine the contents (i.e. all associated documents) of two or more tags. Merging tags takes the documents associated with all selected tags and associates them with a new or existing tag.

To merge tags go to the Manager (click on the DeskBar) and select at least two tags you want to merge. Then right-click anywhere on the tags you selected and select Merge tags from the context menu. On the Merge Tags dialogue specify a name for the tag you want the source tags to be merged into. Click OK.

Note: If you want the merged tag to replace the source tags you will have to delete them manually.

Exporting tags

Exporting a tag will copy all documents associated with the tag to a user-specified directory, along with an XML index file (and style sheets to allow it to render as HTML).

To export tags go to the Manager, right-click the tag you want to export and select Export tag [tag name] from the context menu. On the Browse For Folder dialogue specify the directory you want your tag to be saved. On clicking OK Project Colletta creates a folder named after the tag in the specified directory.

Importing into tags

Importing into tag takes a previously exported directory and links its contents to the specified tag.

To import a directory go to the Manager, right-click the tag you want to import into and select Import into tag [tag name] from the context menu. On the Specify import index XML for activity dialogue select the (previously exported) XML file you want to import and click Open. The documents referenced in the XML file are added to the chosen tag.

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Adjusting the workspace

Pinning tags

For convenience, you can pin the tags you work with most to the DeskBar, so that you do not have to open the Manager to locate them.

To pin a tag to the DeskBar do one of the following:

  • Go to the Manager and select one or more tags you want to pin. Right-click the selected tag(s) and select Pin [tag name] / Pin tags from the context menu.
  • Go to the Manager. Now select one more tags and drag and drop them onto the DeskBar.

To unpin a tag from the DeskBar do one of the following:

  • On the DeskBar right-click the tag you want to unpin and select Unpin from deskbar from the context menu.
  • On the Manager right-click the tag you want to unpin and select Unpin tag [tag name] / Unpin tags from the context menu.

Note: Unpinning a tag will remove the shortcut from the DeskBar. The tag will not be deleted but still be available via the Manager.

You can also use drag and drop to reorder the pinned tags: click the pinned tag on the DeskBar you want to move, and drag it to the desired position.

The pinned tags behave in the same way as the corresponding tags in the full list, showing the same document list window. If there are more pinned tags than will fit on the screen, an overflow dropdown becomes available.

Pinning documents windows

You may find it convenient to keep documents windows visible on your desktop so as to keep files handy. Pinning a documents window detaches it from the tag list and lets you position anywhere on your desktop.

There are two ways of pinning documents windows to the desktop:

  • Click on the pin icon in the top right corner of the documents window.
  • Double click a tag in the Manager.

The window is now pinned to the desktop and can be repositioned by dragging its title bar. On pinned windows, the pin graphic is replaced by an “X” which can be used to close the window, removing it from the desktop.

Any tag – whether pinned or not – which has an open documents window on the desktop also appears on the DeskBar. You can identify these tags because they have a red background, and tags which are pinned to the desktop but not the DeskBar appear towards the right hand end of the DeskBar while the documents window is pinned.

Note: You can have at most a single permanent documents window for a given tag – if you try to pin a second one, the first closes.

Changing the order of tags or documents

To change the ordering of tags in the Manager right-click anywhere inside the Manager window and select from the following menu options:

  • Alphabetically orders tags from A to Z
  • By time orders tags by recency with which the tag was last changed
  • By size orders tags by the number of associated documents

To change the ordering of tagged documents right-click anywhere inside the documents window and select from the following menu options:

  • Alphabetically orders documents from A to Z
  • By time orders documents by the recency with which the document was tagged
  • By type orders documents by document type
  • By folder order documents by shared folder location

Resizing the Manager window

You can resize the Manager window by positioning the mouse cursor on the bottom edge of the window. When the cursor changes into an up-and-down arrow drag it up or down to adjust the size of the Manager window.

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Technical notes

About Project Colletta

Clicking the system icon on the DeskBar presents a menu with the following options:

  • About – shows the program version number.
  • Configure files and folders – dialogue for restoring and maintaining links when files are moved. See Moving documents below.
  • Search for moved Outlook items – see Moving documents below
  • Send feedback – creates an email to send to the rd-beta alias, we welcome all comments and suggestions
  • Go to project home page – launches a web browser pointing to the project’s home page
  • Exit – closes Project Colletta

Moving documents

Although this guide was phrased in terms of associating tags with documents, the implementation is actually associating tags with document locations. This has a number of repercussions: first, if a document is moved, some action needs to be taken to patch the link between the document and tag – this does occur automatically most of the time, fortunately. Second, if a document has no location, it can prove tricky to link to it! In the current code, there is a heuristic that works for file-based documents, which are given the name "" where a name has to be shown within the user interface; however, there is no similar working heuristic for emails – you cannot tag an email before it has been saved into a folder (which is pretty much equivalent to it being sent or received). Note, also, that what looks like the “same” email in, say, the Sent Items folder and Inbox are actually two distinct email documents – in just the same way that two copies of a file in different directories are different objects.

While Project Colletta is running, it watches how the user moves files in the filing system and emails within Outlook. However, there is a subtlety in file watching: many files are changed behind the scenes as the computer is operating, and responding to all of those would be very wasteful – instead, the user needs to specify which directories should be monitored.

To do this, click on the DeskBar and select Configure files and folders from the menu. Follow the instructions given in the first section of the Configure Project Colletta dialogue box.

Second, for both files and email items, Project Colletta can spot items being moved only while it is running: if items are moved while it is not running, Project Colletta loses track of them.

To re-find files click on the DeskBar and select Configure files and folders from the menu. Follow the instructions given in the second section of the Configure Project Colletta dialogue box.

To re-find e-mails click on the DeskBar and select Search for moved Outlook items from the menu.


Because this is a research prototype, we have built in some logging to help with study analysis though this is turned off by default: only if specifically enabled, via a registry setting, almost all Project Colletta operations are logged to a database in the directory mentioned above and a snapshot of the entire screen taken. All the files are stored locally and will not be copied from your machine automatically.

Known problems

All feedback is welcome but here are some current known problem areas.

Screen layout

The supported applications will reserve some space at the bottom for toolbar placement when Project Colletta is running. A side-effect of this is that maximized windows are not fully recognised by the operating system as maximized and do not change their borders correctly: for example, on Windows Vista and Windows 7, Aero glass is not turned off when a window is maximized, leaving the windows a few pixels smaller than they ought to be. A suggested workaround for this is to reduce border padding to zero in the display advanced properties control panel applet.

Moving files

A current limitation of the system is that moving documents or emails to new folder locations will break the link between the document and the associated tags, though when Project Colletta is running, most moves will be tracked.

Wrong application thumbnails

Thumbnail capture can sometimes fail to update correctly.

Graphics issues

Because Project Colletta is implemented as a number of cooperating WPF modules, it can stress your graphics card. In particular, laptop drivers tend not to be well represented on Windows Update and you may see some random screen artefacts when you use the tools (such as application windows not redrawing themselves correctly). It is recommended that you check your laptop supplier’s web site for updated video drivers. For Dell laptops, for example, head to (drop the “euro” if connecting from the USA) and follow the links to drivers for your model of computer.

Colletta may interfere with other devices’ faulty drivers – we had an example of an SD card reader misbehaving when Colletta was running, but that problem was corrected with a driver update for the card reader.

Loss of connection with Outlook

Sometimes Project Colletta and Outlook stop communicating with each other – this presents itself as all email items appearing in Colletta as "<item not found:gt;". Another symptom of this is that the Project Colletta DeskBar application takes a very long time to start up (attempting to communicate with Outlook, and failing after a timeout). The fix is to close both the Project Colletta and Outlook, checking in task manager than both processes have exited, then restart Outlook followed by Colletta.

Acrobat Reader support

Our support for PDF files is a recent addition and not as well developed as the rest of the system. It has only been tested with Adobe Acrobat Reader 9.3 on Windows Vista and Windows 7. Note that it requires that Acrobat Reader is running in SDI mode (i.e., each document has its own window). We should also point out that on a small number of machines, no DocBars appear for PDF files, but the reason for this is as yet unknown.



Manually enabling/disabling the toolbars

The DocBars themselves are enabled via the registry: each hosting application has a dialog box of some sort to access those regions of the registry rather more conveniently than using RegEdit. If you find that one of the DocBars is getting in your way, you can disable that one.

In Word/Excel/PowerPoint, head to Word/Excel/PowerPoint Options (off the round “Office button” on the top left of Office 2007 windows, or the File button on Office 2010), Add-ins, COM Add-ins. In Outlook 2007, you get to the same place via Tools, Trust Center, then Add-ins, COM Add-ins; and in Outlook 2010, use the File button as for the other applications. From here you can enable or disable each DocBar (called RD_ApplicationAddin) – you can also remove the DocBar altogether via these dialog boxes.

For IE, go to Tools, Internet Options, Programs, Manage add-ons: here you can enable and disable Microsoft.ResearchDesktop.IEAddin.

After disabling a DocBar, you should close all instances of the application and reopen them, to ensure the DocBar code is no longer in memory.

You can re-enable the DocBars in the same way – however, please do this when Project Colletta is not running because Project Colletta may get confused about the state of the applications.

Of course, if the DocBar is preventing you from starting the application, you may need to remove it via the registry. For the Office toolbars, run RegEdit and visit HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Application\Addins: underneath this will be a key for each add-in that particular application can load; delete the RD_ApplicationAddin key to remove the toolbar. For IE, it’s easier to manipulate the registry via RegAsm than directly in RegEdit. Open an elevated cmd window and execute: C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\regasm -u "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Research Project Colletta\ResearchDesktop\RD_IEAddin.dll" (assuming Project Colletta was installed in the default location).

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Getting Started.pdf
User Guide.pdf