The free Outlook add-on Xobni beats the pants off Outlook's built-in e-mail search. While Xobni's core talent lays in rapidly finding e-mails and contacts based on any keyword search, it also excels at surfacing meetings and file attachments, hyperlinks, and even personal information extracted from social networks, like photos and phone numbers.
Visually, Xobni displays a sidebar that slides in an out from the right and over the reading pane. From there, you'll be able to search for contacts and messages, and interact with the profile, message, or files from there. When at rest, Xobni displays the profile it's collected on the contact in question--from a hyperlinked e-mail address and phone number to a Skype plug-in, Facebook picture, and LinkedIn profile, assuming the contact has enabled third-party sharing in his or her social network settings. You'll likewise be able to get at the contact's network, and past conversations from here.
Xobni also makes an appearance in the navigation ribbon of Outlook 2010, with a search bar and a shortcut key for hiding and revealing the side bar.
Activate the premium version, Xobni Plus, for $30 (and a free, 14-day trial) and you'll open the door to broader search data (appointments and tasks), more powerful search terms (phrases and Boolean), and an advanced search builder. Xobni Plus also includes full text and direct e-mail filters. Best yet, Xobni Plus adds its index of e-mail addresses to the "To" field of every message you compose, sometimes replicating, but nevertheless vastly expanding, your address book.
Unlike many other Outlook add-ons, both free and upgraded versions of Xobni add functionality without greatly dragging down Outlook's performance. The interface doesn't get in the way, and, in fact, makes communication easier. We recommend Xobni for any Outlook user.
Xobni finds all the people you know through your emails, SMS messages and phone calls, and automatically creates a rich profile for them. Each profile includes their photo, signature info and the messages you've exchanged, as well as their updates from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Xobni makes all this information available to you wherever you are (Outlook, Gmail and BlackBerry for now with iPhone and Android coming soon).
Compatible with Xobni Pro. With Pro, you also get:
Contact Export- Add Xobni Contacts to your Outlook address book. Xobni Cloud- Connect Xobni Contacts across Outlook and BlackBerry for now, but Gmail, Android and iPhone are coming soon. Xobni-Ranked AutoSuggest- Access your Xobni Contacts when composing messages. Advanced Search- Search all your contacts and email. Daily Spam Rescue alerts and automatic rescue. Multiple PC support. Xobni Pro for BlackBerry.
What's new in this version:
- Fresh clean design.
- Spam Rescue. Identifies messages that may have been incorrectly filtered into the Junk Mail folder.
- Xobni Gadget Store with more than 20 gadgets for you to add to Outlook including Evernote, Dropbox and WebEx.