Outlook 2007’s Silent Clipboard Revolution

by on June 26, 2009

While I’m obviously rather late on the uptake here, I recently (and rather reluctantly) upgraded to Office 2007 on my work laptop. The “ribbon” UI is now sapping my will to live – I had to resort of Googling to work out where the “Links” dialogue had gone in Word, and many functions in Excel seem to have just disappeared.

But one thing suddenly jumped out and grabbed me the other day as I was using Outlook. Finally, after about 15 years of total and utter madness, the one feature I have wished countless times was different, has changed:

The Office 2007 clipboard in Outlook preserves target formatting by default. Here: watch the video (923Kb FLV).

So at last it’s happend. Somebody somewhere has finally seen what millions of people like me have regarded as the single most idiotic feature of Microsoft Office. The fact that it appears only to be the default in Outlook and not other MS apps is rather strange – perhaps its just a bug – but even so its effect is just dreamy!

I use the clipboard constantly in my everyday life. I have wasted correspondingly untold amounts of time re-formatting text pasted in from one source to another. Why would anyone want to preserve the formatting of the source text in the target text by default? Yet that is way it has always been. Until now.

So, possibly the biggest and most productive change to the usability of any application in about 10 years has just happend, but nobody seems to have noticed. But I for one am celebrating.

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