Like many Mac users, I manage my email, calendar, and address book using Entourage, the personal information manager (PIM) component of Microsoft Office 2004. Since I use Entourage extensively throughout the day, every little rough patch or sharp corner that I encounter in the user interface is elevated from mere annoyance to exasperating aggravation.
I’m the first to admit that I can’t program my way out of a paper bag. I have the greatest respect for engineers who can create powerful products such as Entourage, but I have little tolerance for any product that doesn’t work as advertised, or makes me work harder than is necessary. Join me as I recount the top 10 things I hate about Entourage. If you know of any workarounds for my pet peeves, or you’d like to share your own list of things that drive you crazy, please post your comments below.
1: Screwy Sorting
Like almost all Mac programs, Entourage allows you to sort lists by clicking the desired column heading, with a second click reversing the sort order. That’s the way things are supposed to work. However, if you have Address Book contacts that lack first and last names (such as when you’ve entered only a business name), and you click the Name column, Entourage duplicates the display of the business name in both the Name and Company columns (see Figure 1). I’m sure that Microsoft thinks this is a feature, not a bug, but in my book, if a field in a record is empty, it should be displayed as a blank field.
Curiously, if you have contacts that lack business names, and you click the Company column, Entourage doesn’t duplicate the display of the individual’s name in both the Name and Company columns. Not only is the strange sorting behavior wrong, it’s inconsistently applied.
Figure 1 Why does Microsoft deem it necessary to duplicate the display of the company name, rather than just leave the Name field empty for those contacts without an individual’s first and last name?
Another example of how Entourage’s sorting is screwed up is the inability to set a secondary sort order. Suppose you want to sort contacts by Company, and then by Name, so that all Apple Computer employees are grouped together, and Jonathan Ive comes before Steve Jobs, for example. In Excel, this would be a snap because you could choose Data > Sort, specify that you want to sort by one column (Company), and then by another (Last Name), and even by a third (First Name). But the sort feature in Entourage isn’t nearly as flexible. And you can’t even use the old trick of first sorting by Name, and then sorting by Company to achieve the desired result.