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Issue #701: Dec 27, 2020 – Jan 2, 2021

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Greetings, my dear readers, and welcome to the last edition of It’s Geek To Me for the year 2020.  It has been an amazing roller coaster of a year for all of us.  As I read somewhere since this all began, we are not all in the same boat, but we are all subject to the same whims of the rising and falling tides.  In 2020. those tides saw me coping with the death of my father, about 6 months of 12-hour shifts, taking a leading role in producing online services after my church was forced to shut down its sanctuary, Spouse Peripheral going through a major, non-COVID-related health scare, and finally, a very difficult, but ultimately successful build for Season 13 of my annual Christmas lights and music show, the Geek Lights on the Corner.  Last week, to absolutely no fanfare, I published the 700th issue of this column, and I’m still reeling at that large number of issues that stretch to a point in time all the way back to before the birth of the iPhone.  Now 2021 is right around the corner.  Like many of you, I’m expecting better things in the coming year.  Hopefully, I’ll be right here continuing to answer your questions and making your cyber life smoother and safer.  And hopefully you’ll be right here with me, continuing to send in your questions on all manner of technology.  Happy New Year, my dear Geeks!

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Q: My outlook copies some email to a folder I am trying to move it into. Now I have it in my inbox and the folder.  Deleting the inbox copy deletes the folder copy as well and vice versa.  I can’t get organized this way.

 – Charles D.
City Unknown

A:  Well, Charles, I agree that with what’s going on there you can’t possibly get organized.  Along the same line, I can’t possibly provide a definitive solution to the problem with the small amount of information you gave me.  I wish you had at least told me what version of Outlook you’re running.  It would also have helped to know whether you are set up to use POP3 or IMAP for your mail transfer protocol, and whether you leave your messages on the e-mail server, or download them all to your computer.  I’d also like to know what method you’re using to try and move your e-mail.

Without all that information, I’m making some guesses from here on out.  Let me start by saying that there is a distinct difference between moving and copying items.  I’m guessing you know this already, but since we’re dealing with the topic, I feel the need to cover all the bases.  Of course, “move” means that the item in the source location disappears, and it appears in the target location.  On the other hand, “copy” means that the item in the source location remains, while another, new version of it appears in the target location.  Neither of these two definitions seems to match what you’re experiencing, which sounds to me more like Outlook is creating a shortcut to the Inbox item in the folder.  But I’m unaware of any such functionality in Outlook.

The first thing that comes to mind is that it sounds like you’re not actually moving the e-mail, but rather making a copy of the e-mail header in the destination directory.  Since the header references the actual e-mail, it would kind-of make sense that deleting one of them would cause the other to be deleted.  I could be totally off-base here.  Again, a lot of this is pure speculation.

It strikes me that there are multiple ways to accomplish the moving of an e-mail.  You could be right-clicking it, and selecting “Move” from the menu.  You could also be dragging it and dropping it in the folder.  It’s the latter method that concerns me.  You can either do a move or a copy operation by dragging, and it’s not exactly obvious which is which.  To see it in action, start a drag operation, but don’t drop it in the destination folder.  While still holding the mouse button down, depress the [Ctrl] key.  You’ll see a plus sign appear, and it will disappear when you release [Ctrl].  The plus sign is the indicator that you’re about to perform a copy operation.   If there is no plus sign, the e-mail is moved to the destination folder.  I’m not sure whether this will help you, because in neither of those scenarios will you end up where if you delete one, the other gets deleted as well.

I apologize that I’m not able to give you the answer you’re seeking.  If you’d care to write-in again, and provide more information, I’d be happy to take another shot at it.  The more information you can provide, the more likely it is that I can help.  Screenshots are always good!

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