Act! 3 for Windows for Dummies

Overview

Enhance your productivity and organize your workday once and for all with ACT!® 3 For Windows® For Dummies®. With ACT!, the world's most popular contact manager, you no longer need a pencil, paper, calendar, day planner, Rolodex, or many other contact management tools that clutter your desk. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned user, Jeffrey Mayer helps you make the most of ACT! so that you can become more efficient and effective in no time!

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Overview

Enhance your productivity and organize your workday once and for all with ACT!® 3 For Windows® For Dummies®. With ACT!, the world's most popular contact manager, you no longer need a pencil, paper, calendar, day planner, Rolodex, or many other contact management tools that clutter your desk. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned user, Jeffrey Mayer helps you make the most of ACT! so that you can become more efficient and effective in no time!

ACT!3 works with Windows 3.1, Windows 95, and Windows NT, so no matter which platform you work on, you can use this book to increase your productivity!

Inside, find helpful advice on how to:

  • Schedule your calls, meetings, and to-dos with a click of your mouse
  • Use ACT!'s contact database to keep track of all the important people in your life
  • Send and receive your e-mail messages with ACT!
  • Create an electronic database of contacts so that you can toss that old Rolodex and stack of business cards
  • Produce custom reports, letters, envelopes, and labels
  • Get rid of those sticky notes cluttering your desk by using ACT!'s notepad
  • Keep ACT!'s alarm by your side to keep you on top of your meetings and appointments
  • Use macros to automate ACT!
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764500275
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/28/1996
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 7.36 (w) x 9.15 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction

Why I Love ACT!
How to Use This Book
What I Assume about You
How This Book Is Organized
Part I: Getting to Know ACT!
Part II: Using Your Database
Part III: Scheduling: A Play in Five ACT!s
Part IV: Communicating with the Outside World
Part V: Advanced ACT! Stuff
Part VI: The Part of Tens
Conventions Used in This Book
Icons Used in This Book
Where to Go from Here

Part I: Getting to Know ACT!


Chapter 1: ACT! 3.0: An Overview

Some Very Important ACT! Information
ACT! is people oriented, not task oriented
Remember to record history items
Put everybody you know into ACT!
Turn ACT! into your electronic Rolodex file
Back up your ACT! database
Getting Help When You Need It
ACT! 3.0's New Features
View contact information in the Contact window
Click on a tab to view contact information
Contact notes and history are combined
View your contact's activities with the Activities tab
View your list of contacts in a spreadsheet
View all of your calls, meetings, and to-dos as a list
Select your own word processor
Take advantage of the group feature
Customize your ACT! calendars
Enhanced scheduling features
Customize the look of each window
Define and redefine your ACT! fields
Design your own ACT! layouts
Customize your ACT! toolbar, keyboard, and menu commands
Use the right mouse button
Using ACT!'s Windows
Opening your windows
Changing the size of ACT! split-windows
Viewing tabs in the contact and group windows

Chapter 2: Getting Contacts into ACT!

Creating a New ACT! Database
Converting a Database from a Previous Version of ACT! into ACT! 3.0
Importing Contacts into ACT! from Another Database
Importing Contact Information from Non-Electronic Sources
Managing Your ACT! Database
Opening an ACT! database
Closing an ACT! database
Deleting an ACT! database

Chapter 3: ACT!'s General Preferences

Preferences Dialog Box Basics
The General Tab
Which word processor do you want to use?
What faxing software do you want to use?
Where are your ACT! files located?
What key do you want to use to move from one field to another?
Would you like ACT! to prompt you on exit?
Would you like ACT! to remember your password?
Would you like to use ACT! 2.0's shortcut keys to move between records?
The Startup Tab
Contact window options
Group window options
Database options
Macro options

Chapter 4: The Contact Window

What's in the Contact Window?
The menu bar
The Toolbar
The status bar
The Fields of the Contact Layout Layout
The top half of the Contact Layout layout
The User Fields tab
The Phone/Home tab
The Alt Contacts tab
The Status tab
The other tabs of the Contact Layout layout
The Classic Contact Layouts for ACT! 2.0 Users

Chapter 5: Working with the Notes/History, Activities, and Groups Tabs

The Notes/History Tab
Entering notes
Writing a note
Recording the history of your activities
Entering history notations with the Record History dialog box
Attaching files to contact records
Opening an attached file
Viewing the details of a note, history entry, or attachment
Deleting a note, history, or attachment
Cutting, copying, and pasting notes, histories, and attachments
Modifying the particulars of a note, history item, or an attachment
Viewing notes, history, and attachments
Working with columns
Changing the appearance of your Notes/History tab
The Activities Tab
The Groups Tab
Changing the contact's group membership
Changing the Groups tab's appearance

Chapter 6: Defining ACT! Fields

Selecting a Record Type to Customize
Customizing Fields
Changing a field's name
Deciding what type of data to enter in a field
Sizing a field
Choosing a field format
Applying rules to the field
Working with Default Settings When Adding New Contacts to Your Database
Setting a default value when you add a new contact
Making a field a primary field
Automatically Recording Information in Fields as History Items
Setting Block Synchronization
Creating a New Field
Deleting Fields That You Don't Use
Creating Drop-Down Menus
Exporting drop-down menu items
Importing drop-down menu items
Turning a Field into a Trigger Field
Launching a program when you enter a field
Launching a program when you exit a field
Creating Your Own Indexed Fields
Creating a new index
Performing a lookup on an indexed field
Deleting an index
Working with Advanced Options
Enabling transaction logging
Enabling duplicate checking
Using the Match duplicates using options
Allowing history editing

Part II: Using Your Database


Chapter 7: Entering Information into Your Database

My Record Is Your Record
It's Your Database, At Least While You're Using It
My Record information is used in your documents
Your contact record (My Record) is ACT!'s home base
Entering Information into a Contact Record
Using the Tab key to move from one field to another
Using your mouse to move around the contact layout
Using the Enter key
Using the Salutation field
Getting names right so that ACT! can find people
The Many Data Fields of ACT!
Working with Drop-Down Menus and Edit List Dialog Boxes
Customizing your drop-down menus
Customizing an item's description
Making a field a drop-down menu field
Customizing Your Individual Fields
The Title field
The City field
The State field
The Zip Code field
The Last Results field
The ID/Status field
Changing ACT! Information
Editing Several Contact Records At Once
Changing field information
Moving contact information between fields

Chapter 8: Viewing Your Contacts as a List

Viewing Contact Information
Selecting the information you wish to view
Changing the appearance of the Contact List window
Changing the order in which contact information is displayed
Changing the Information in a Contact Record
Scheduling Activities from the Contact List
Phoning a Contact from the Contact List
Managing Your Contacts from the Contact List
Adding a new contact to the database
Deleting a single contact
Deleting more than one contact
Refining Your Lookups with the Contact List

Chapter 9: Adding and Removing ACT! Contacts

Adding a New Contact Using ACT!'s New Contact Command
Adding a New Contact Using ACT!'s Duplicate Contact Command
Using the Duplicate data from primary fields command
Using the Duplicate data from all fields command
Saving your new contact record
Removing Old Contacts from ACT!
Deleting a contact
Deleting a lookup

Part III: Scheduling: A Play in Five ACT!s


Chapter 10: Finding People in ACT!

Lookup Basics
Using ACT!'s Instant Lookups
Finding your My Record
Looking up everyone in your database
Viewing your previous lookup
Performing ACT!'s Standard Lookups
Looking up people who work for the same company
Looking up people with the same first name
Looking up people with the same last name
Looking up people who live or work in the same city
Looking up people who have the same phone number prefix or area code
Looking up people who live or work in the same state
Looking up people who live or work in the same zip code area
Looking up people who have the same ID/Status
Looking up other indexed fields
Refining Your Lookups
Narrowing your lookups
Expanding your lookups
Sorting Your Database
Sorting alphabetically
Changing the sort order
Searching Your Entire Database by a Key Word
A word about key word searches
Wild cards, you make my heart sing
Viewing the Status of Your Lookup
Determining the position of a contact record within a lookup
Moving through a lookup one record at a time
Moving to the first or last record in a lookup
Using the Lookup indicator
Displaying a list of your contacts
Using ACT!'s Contact List to Further Refine Your Lookup
Removing a single person from the lookup
Removing more than one person from the lookup
Scrolling through your contact list
Saving Your Lookups
Performing Custom Database Queries
Performing custom contact lookups
Using the Query Helper dialog box
Checking your SmartQuery
Sorting your query
Executing a query
Saving a query
Opening a query
Creating a new query
Adding your custom queries to the Lookup menu

Chapter 11: Grouping Your Contacts

Opening the Groups Window
Setting Your Group Preferences
Creating a New Group
Creating a new group using New Group command
Creating a new group using ACT's Duplicate Group command
Deleting Old Groups from ACT!
Entering Group Information
Defining Group Fields
Editing the Membership of a Group
Selecting contacts for group membership
Adding people to a group
Removing people from a group
Viewing Group Information
The Contact tab
The Activities tab
The Notes/History tab
Other Group window tabs
Changing Group Layouts
Performing Group Lookups

Chapter 12: Scheduling Your Activities

Scheduling Preferences
Setting your activity defaults
Dealing with cleared activities
Making your scheduled activities public or private
Configuring conflict checking
Rolling over unfinished activities
The Actual Act of Scheduling Your Activities
What type of activity would you like to schedule?
What is the date of the activity?
What is the time of the activity?
What's the duration of the activity?
What are your priorities?
What is the activity regarding?
With whom are you scheduling the activity?
Setting the alarm
Making activities public or private
Sending an e-mail message
Adding color to your activity
Scheduling a recurring activity
Saving an activity
Rescheduling an activity
Clearing Activities
Clearing a call
Clearing a meeting
Clearing a to-do
Scheduling a follow-up activity

Chapter 13: ACT!'s Calendars

Setting Your Calendar Preferences
Viewing Your Activities a Day at a Time
Scrolling through the calendar
Changing your views
Viewing activities scheduled for a different date
Printing your calendar and taking it with you
View activities
Scheduling a new activity
Modifying a previously scheduled activity
Changing the date or time of your activities by dragging and dropping
Clearing an activity
Unclearing a cleared activity
Grouping your contacts in a lookup
Using ACT!'s Mini Calendar
Opening the Day calendar
Viewing your scheduled activities
Scheduling a new activity
Viewing Your Activities a Week at a Time
Viewing Your Activities for a Whole Month
Customizing the Look and Feel of Your Calendars
Printing Your Calendar
Selecting the printout type
Selecting the size and type of your paper
Choosing your calendar options
Getting ink on paper

Chapter 14: Using the Task List

Filtering Your Activities
Managing Your Activities from the Task List
Scheduling a new Activity from the Task List
Clearing a completed activity from the Task List
Modifying a previously scheduled activity by using the Schedule Activity dialog box
Modifying a previously scheduled activity by making changes directly from the Task List
Messing Around with Columns
Adding columns to the Task List
Changing the position of your columns
Removing a column from the Task List
Changing the width of a column heading
Locking your columns
Showing and hiding grid lines
Sorting Your Task List
Grouping Your Contacts from the Task List
Creating a lookup for a single contact
Creating a lookup of selected contacts
Customizing the Task List
Printing the Task List

Part IV: Communicating with the Outside World


Chapter 15: Using ACT!'s Telephone Features

The Easy Way to Make an ACT! Call
Dialing your calls
Choosing whom to call
Using the Dialing From field
Having ACT! dial the phone for you
Keeping Track of Your Calls with the Record History Dialog Box
Recording the history of your telephone calls
Using ACT! with Caller ID
Setting Your Dialing Preferences
Using the dialer
Setting up your modem
Indicating your location
Specifying your address
Setting other dialing options
Creating Phone Formats for Foreign Telephone Numbers
Changing Area Codes
Adding New Phone Fields
Printing Your Address and Phone Book
Selecting your Address Book options
Producing hard copy

Chapter 16: Using ACT! to Write Letters

Selecting Your Word Processor
Writing a Letter, Memo, or Fax
Writing a letter
Printing envelopes and labels
Writing a memo
Creating a fax cover page
Printing, Faxing, and E-Mailing Your Letter
Printing your letter, memo, or fax
Sending your document as a fax
Sending your document as e-mail
Saving your document
Creating Form Letters
Using form letter templates
Sending a form letter to a group of ACT! contacts
Converting your ACT! 2.0 templates to the 3.0 format
Inserting ACT! merge codes into a form letter template
Testing your letter template
Preparing customized form letters
Saving your form letter template
Merging an ACT! form letter with a group of contacts
Modifying your Write menu to include your form letter template
Some Useful Third-Party Products
DAZzle
Seiko's Smart Label Printer Pro
FedEx Ship
OAK!Ship!

Chapter 17: Formatting Documents in ACT!'s Word Processor

Opening ACT!'s Word Processor
Opening a word processing document or template
Creating a new document or template
Setting Your Word Processing Preferences
Working with the Page Setup Dialog Box
Setting Your Page Margins
Justifying Your Text
Changing the Spacing of Your Text
Keeping Your Paragraphs Together
Setting Your Tabs
Applying Your Tab and Margin Settings to Another Paragraph
Inserting Headers and Footers
Inserting Other Things into Your Document
Inserting a page break
Inserting the current date into your document
Inserting the time into your document
Inserting page numbers within your document
Inserting special or extended characters into your documents
Changing the Look of Your Document
Printing Your Document
Saving Your Document
Checking the Spelling in Your Document
Finding and Replacing Words within Your Document
Exiting ACT!'s Word Processor

Chapter 18: Working with Reports

Generating a Standard ACT! Report
Accessing ACT!'s Standard Report Templates
Converting your ACT! 2.0 Report Templates to the 3.0 Format
Creating Custom Reports
Setting up the Report Designer
Understanding the sections of an ACT! report
Adding, changing, and deleting sections
Changing the size of a report's section
Working with graphic objects
Inserting merge fields into a report template
Changing ACT!'s merge field properties
Selecting Default Settings for Reports
Testing Your Report
Modifying Your Report Menu

Chapter 19: Using ACT! to Send and Receive Electronic Mail

ACT!'s Supported E-Mail Systems
Setting Your E-Mail Preferences
Adding an E-Mail Address to an ACT! Contact's Record
Creating an E-Mail Message
Addressing your e-mail message
Using your e-mail address books
Entering the subject line
Typing your e-mail message
Attaching a file to your e-mail message
Attaching a contact or group record to your e-mail message
Deleting an attachment
Setting the priority
Getting a receipt
Sending your e-mail message now or later
Creating an E-Mail Message from within Your Word Processor
Sending an E-Mail Message to Confirm a Scheduled Activity
Sending a Report as an E-Mail Message
Using the E-Mail Outbox
Using your E-Mail Inbox
Logging onto an e-mail system
Reading your e-mail messages
Replying to an e-mail message
Forwarding an e-mail message to someone else
Using Your Briefcase When You're Offline

Part V: Advanced ACT! Stuff


Chapter 20: Designing ACT! Layouts

Doing the Basics
Opening an ACT! layout
Changing layouts
Creating a new layout
Closing the Layout Designer
Naming and saving your layouts
Setting Up Your Layout Designer
How should the rulers be set up?
How should the grid lines work?
Changing the Tabs on Your Layout
Working with Graphic Objects
Inserting graphic objects
Moving graphic objects
Changing an object's size
Moving objects from front to back and vice versa
Making objects the same size
Getting objects to line up
Aligning your objects to the grid
Inserting, Moving, and Removing Fields
Changing the field entry order
Changing field properties
Making Your Layout Look Better
Adding rectangles, ellipses, and lines
Adding text
Changing your background
Saving Your Layout

Chapter 21: Customizing ACT!'s Commands

Customizing the Toolbar
Change the Toolbar's position
Change the size of the icons
Show Tool Tips
Customizing the commands on the Toolbar
Customizing ACT!'s Menu Commands
Change a command's position
Change the command's description
Add a new command
Add a menu or submenu heading
Customizing ACT!'s Keyboard Shortcuts
Change a keystroke combination
Add a new keyboard shortcut
Delete a keyboard shortcut
Reset your keyboard shortcuts
Creating Commands to Run Macros or Launch Other Applications
Creating a custom command
Making a macro a custom ACT! command
Other Custom Command features
Automating Repetitive Tasks with Macros
Recording a macro
Playing your macros

Chapter 22: Customizing ACT!'s Windows and Tabs

Changing a Window's or Tab's Font
Changing a Font's Color
Changing a Window's or Tab's Background Color
Displaying Grid Lines

Chapter 23: Database File Management

Doing Routine Database Management
Opening a database
Closing a database
Deleting a database
Creating a new database
Exporting contact and group records to a new database
Copying (saving) a database as a \delimited (.TXT) file
Merging Databases
Setting merge options
Mapping your Contact and Group fields
Importing Contacts from Another Database
Sharing Information through Data Synchronization

Part VI: The Part of Tens


Chapter 24: At Least Ten Database Maintenance Tips

Keep Your Databases in Tip-Top Shape
Get Rid of Duplicates
Setting your criteria
Enabling Duplicate Checking for contact and group records
Scanning for duplicates
The Bare Minimum on Administering a Multiuser Database

Chapter 25: More Than Ten Technical Resources

ACT! Certified Consultants
ACT! User Groups

Index

Reader Response Card

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter 10
Finding People in ACT!

In This Chapter

  • Performing ACT! instant lookups
  • Performing ACT! standard lookups
  • Looking up other indexed fields
  • Refining your lookups
  • Sorting your database
  • Searching by keyword
  • Viewing the status of lookups
  • Refining your lookups with the Contact List
  • Performing custom database queries

One of the most important -- and most powerful -- features in ACT! is its lookup feature. With the lookup feature, you can find anyone in your ACT! database in just a fraction of a second. (You can also search your ACT! database for any piece of information, or key word, but searching can take a lot longer than a fraction of a second if you have a large database.) When you perform a lookup, you're searching your ACT! database for contact records that contain similar or identical pieces of information.

Lookup Basics

When you use the Lookup command, you're actually creating a group of contacts from within your ACT! database. For example, if you do a lookup of Chicago by executing the Lookup-->City command and type Chicago, you create a group of contact records of people who live or work in Chicago. Or if you do a lookup of Smith by executing the Lookup-->Last Name command and typing Smith, you create a group of contact records of people who have the last name of Smith. Here are some lookup tips:

  • A lookup remains active until you do another lookup.
  • You can create specific groups of ACT! contact records while keeping your ACT! database intact. (I discuss how to do this task in Chapter 11.)
  • To see your whole ACT! database after you've performed a lookup, select Lookup-->All Contacts.

If you can't remember how a person's name is spelled, just type the first two or three letters of the name when you do a lookup, and ACT! creates a list of all your ACT! contacts whose names have those letter combinations. To see a list of the contact records that were grouped in a lookup, select View-->Contact List, click the Contact List icon, or press F8, and the Contact List window opens (see Figure 10-1). Then you can scroll through the list until you find the name that you're searching for.

The Lookup menu offers you a number of ways to look up information in ACT!. You can look up contact records by My Record, All Contacts, Company, First Name, Last Name, City, Phone, State, Zip Code, ID/Status, Other, Previous, Keyword, and By Example.

Make ACT! your electronic Rolodex

Add to your ACT! database the names, addresses, and phone numbers of everybody you speak with or meet because you just don't know if -- or when -- you'll need to speak with that person again. And when you do need to find someone's phone number, just look up either the person's first or last name, and the contact record is displayed before you can blink your eye. To perform the lookup, I suggest that you use the keyboard because you'll find it so much faster than using the mouse.

To lookup a person by first name, just press Alt+L+F (Lookup-->First Name), type in the first three or four letters of the first name, and press Enter. To lookup a person by last name, press Alt+L+L (Lookup-->Last Name), type the first three or four letters of the last name, and press Enter. Then, if you have a modem, use ACT! to dial the phone for you. As a result of the conversation, you'll probably have to schedule some type of activity with that person. Go ahead and schedule that activity now, before you move on to your next task.

Using ACT!'s Instant Lookups

Three selections in ACT!'s Lookup menu are predefined -- My Record, All Contacts, and Previous. All you need to do is make your selection.

Finding your My Record

When you want to find your contact record, you could perform a lookup and search for either your first or last name, but in ACT!, you don't have to work that hard. Instead, you can just look up My Record by selecting Lookup-->My Record, which is the contact record that contains information about the owner or main user of the database, who is you when you're using it. (If you're sharing a database, the My Record contact record displays the contact information of the person who is currently using the database.)

When you first turn on ACT!, your own My Record contact record is always displayed.

When you're using ACT! on a network, you tell ACT! that you're the user when you enter your name and password. After you enter your name and password, ACT! knows which My Record contact record to activate.

Looking up everyone in your database

To find everyone in your ACT! database, or in the current group, select Lookup-->All Contacts. ACT! lists all of your contacts alphabetically, first by the company's name and then by the contact's name. So when you just want to scroll through your entire database, just look up everyone and then press F8 to open the Contact List. Refining your lookups with the Contact List is discussed later in this chapter. (I discuss the features of the Contact List in Chapter 8.)

Viewing your previous lookup

To view your previous lookup, select Lookup-->Previous and ACT! displays your previous lookup.

Use the Previous command when someone needs a phone number or address. Say, for example, you're talking to Jane on the phone, and she asks you for Tarzan's address. Do a lookup for Tarzan, and after you give Jane the information, use the Previous command to return to Jane's contact record.

Performing ACT!'s Standard Lookups

The majority of your lookups may be for information in the following ACT! fields: Company, First Name, Last Name, City, State, Zip Code, and ID/Status. ACT! considers these to be standard lookups.

When you do a lookup for Company, City, State, Zip Code, or ID/Status, you can access the same drop-down menus that are used in the respective field in the Contact window -- if the respective fields have been designated as drop-down menu fields in ACT!'s Define Fields dialog box. (To read more about defining ACT! fields, turn to Chapter 6.)

After you perform any of the lookups listed in this section, you can view the contact records individually by using the Page Up/Page Down keys or by clicking the Previous/Next Contact buttons on the Toolbar. Or you can view the group as a list by pressing F8, which opens the Contact List window.

Looking up people who work for the same company

When you want to perform a search for the contact records of all the people who work for the same company, choose Lookup-->Company from the menu. This lookup groups all the contact records of the people who work for that company together. Figure 10-2 shows the Lookup for Company dialog box.

The Replace lookup, Add to lookup, and Narrow lookup commands are discussed later in this chapter.

Looking up people with the same first name

When you want to find someone by his or her first name, choose First Name from the Lookup menu, type in the person's first name, and ACT! creates a group of all the people in your database who have that same first name.

Many times, I look up people by their first name because I can't remember how their last name is spelled, and I then open the Contact List where I can scroll through the list. After I locate the person, I double-click the Contact button to the left of the name, and ACT! brings up the contact record.

Looking up people with the same last name

When you want to find someone by his or her last name, choose Last Name from the Lookup menu, and ACT! creates a group of all the people in your database who have that same last name.

I use the ACT! Last Name lookup feature all day long. When I want to find a person's contact record, I just press Alt+L+L (Lookup-->Last Name) to bring up the Last Name Lookup dialog box; I type in the first three or four letters of the person's last name, press Enter, and ACT! groups all of the people together who have those letters in their last name. Then I use the Page Up/Page Down buttons to scroll through the list.

Looking up people who live or work in the same city

When you want to perform a search of all the people who live or work in the same city, choose City from the Lookup menu, type in the city's name or select it from the drop-down menu, and ACT! creates a group of all the people in your database who live or work in the selected city. If the City field has been designated as a drop-down menu field, you can access the City drop-down menu by clicking the drop-down menu button. (I cover designating fields as drop-down menu fields in Chapter 6.)

Every once in a while, I find that I want to call someone but I can't remember the exact spelling of either his or her first or last name, so I perform a lookup of the person's city, and then I open the Contact List (by pressing F8) and scroll through the list.

The next time you plan an out-of-town business trip, search for all the people who work in the cities you'll be visiting to see if there are any additional people you should be meeting with. You can then group-schedule a call, instead of scheduling a call one contact at a time, to remind yourself to call all these people. You can also send out a mass mailing to these people.

Looking up people who have the same phone number prefix or area code

When you want to do a lookup based on a phone number prefix or area code, choose Phone from the Lookup menu, and ACT! creates a group of all the people in your database who have the same phone number prefix or area code. You must include the area code in the search criteria. For example, if you wanted to send a mailing piece to everybody in the northern suburbs of Chicago, you can do a lookup for the 708 area code, and ACT! groups everybody who has a 708 area code.

Forget phone directories. Forget operators. Forget list brokers. Forget all the things that used to slow you down or just plain stop you from locating the person or business you are seeking. With Select Phone, the award-winning reverse-search phone book on CD-ROM, you can now look up, find, count, locate, tag, download, call, mail, and even map anyone or any group of residential or business listings in the blink of an eye. Pro CD, Inc., makes Select Phone. Contact them at 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923; 800-99-CD-ROM.

Looking up people who live or work in the same state

When you want to perform a search for all the people who live or work in the same state, choose State from the Lookup menu, and ACT! creates a group of all the people in your database who live or work in the same state. If the State field has been designated as a drop-down menu field, you can access the State drop-down menu by clicking the drop-down menu button.

Looking up people who live or work in the same zip code area

When you want to search for all the people who live or work in the same zip code, or zip code range, choose Zip Code from the Lookup menu, and ACT! creates a group of all the people in your database who live or work in the same zip code area.

If you wanted to look up everybody in Atlanta and the surrounding areas, enter 303. To find everybody in Chicago and the surrounding areas, enter 606.

Looking up people who have the same ID/Status

When you want to search for people who have the same ACT! ID/Status, choose ID/Status from the Lookup menu, and ACT! creates a group of all the people in your database who have the same ID/Status.

You can use the ID/Status field to assign your own categories to your contacts. For example, you may want to identify contacts as customers, prospects, clients, vendors, friends, family, relatives, and so on.

You should definitely designate the ID/Status field as a drop-down menu field so that all your contacts can be categorized in the same way. And when you perform a lookup for contacts by their ID/Status, use the drop-down menu. This ensures that you're using the correct search criteria.

Looking up other indexed fields

By selecting the Lookup-->Other Fields command, you can select from the list of available fields in the Lookup Other dialog box, which is shown in Figure 10-3.

From the drop-down list in the Available fields field, you can perform a lookup on any field that you have selected as an indexed field. (Any ACT! field can become an indexed field. I discuss defining ACT! fields in Chapter 6.)

Refining Your Lookups

Sometimes you may want to expand and/or refine your lookups. Doing so saves you the time and trouble of performing sophisticated database searches.

Narrowing your lookups

When you narrow your lookup, you are refining the number of contacts that match certain search criteria. For example, say that you were going on a business trip and wanted a list of all your customers in Boston. This is what you do:

  1. Select Lookup-->City, enter Boston, and click OK.

    ACT! creates a group of everybody who is in Boston.

  2. Select Lookup-->ID/Status and enter Customer (this assumes that you've used the ID/Status field to categorize your contacts and that one of your categories is Customer).
  3. Select the Narrow Lookup option, which tells ACT! to search the already existing lookup list for contacts matching the current lookup criterion. This option creates a smaller and more refined lookup. (See Figure 10-4.)
  4. Click OK, and ACT! creates a lookup of all your customers in Boston.

Expanding your lookups

When you expand your lookups, you're adding the results of two or more lookups together. For example, say that you were going to California and wanted a list of all your contacts in Los Angeles and San Francisco. This is how you can compile your list:

  1. Select Lookup-->City, enter Los Angeles, and click OK.

    ACT! creates a group of everybody who is in Los Angeles.

  2. Select Lookup-->City, and enter San Francisco.
  3. Select the Add to lookup option so that you can add the contacts found using the lookup criteria to the current lookup. (See Figure 10-5.)
  4. Click OK, and ACT! creates a lookup of everybody you know in both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Sorting Your Database

When you perform an ACT! lookup, the program sorts the contact information as shown in Table 10-1.

Table 10-1

The Sort Order of Contact Information

Sort By

Sort Order

Company

Company, Last Name, First Name

First Name

First Name, Last Name, Company

Last Name

Last Name, First Name, Company

Phone

Phone Number, Last Name

City

City, Company, Last Name

State

State, City, Company

ZIP Code

ZIP Code, City, Company

ID/Status

ID/Status, Company, Last Name

Let me give you an example of how ACT! sorts the database when you do a lookup for a company. First, the lookup is sorted by the company's name; next, the contacts are sorted alphabetically by their last names; and finally, should two or more people have the same last name, they are then sorted alphabetically by their first names.

Sorting alphabetically

To sort your ACT! database alphabetically, select the Lookup command that you want -- such as Company, First Name, Last Name, and so on -- leave the Lookup dialog box empty, click OK, and your lookup is sorted in alphabetical order.

Changing the sort order

To change the ACT! sort order, select the Edit-->Sort command from the ACT! menu bar, and the Sort Contacts dialog box, shown in Figure 10-6, appears.

You use the Sort Contacts dialog box to sort the database in ascending or descending order. Three fields can be used to customize the sort, and there are three sorting sections:

  • Sort Contacts by: In the Sort Contacts by section, you specify the first field (criteria) that you want to sort your lookup by. You can also choose whether to perform this sort in ascending or descending order.
  • and then by: In the and then by section, you specify the second-level criteria that you want to sort your lookup by. You can also choose whether to perform this sort in ascending (A to Z), or descending (Z to A) order.
  • and finally by: In the and finally by section, you specify the third-level criteria that you want to sort your lookup by. You can also choose whether to perform this sort in ascending or descending order.

To sort by one set of criteria, choose None as the second and third sort criteria.

Searching Your Entire Database by a Key Word

To search your entire ACT! database -- the contact database, the notes database, the history database, the activities database, and your e-mail addresses -- select Keyword from the Lookup menu, and the Lookup Keyword dialog box appears (see Figure 10-7). Enter the key word or string of words (a phrase), and ACT! creates a group of all the people in your database who have that key word or phrase somewhere within their contact record.

A key word search lets you search for a word, a part of a word, or a string of words (a phrase) that may be anywhere inside your databases. This search can include every word in each field of your contact records, every word in your notes database, your activities database, the history database, and your e-mail addresses.

Type your key words or phrases in the Keyword Lookup dialog box, select which ACT! databases you want to search, and click OK. ACT! now searches every record in your database and then groups together all the contacts that have the key word or phrase that you're searching for. (You should keep in mind that a key word search could take a long time, and if you have a large database, it could take a very long time.)

A word about key word searches

You can enter the data that you want ACT! to find in its key word search in any of the following ways:

  • You can have ACT! search for a single word, such as "price."
  • You can use wild cards (*) to search for an incomplete word.
  • You can use Boolean operators to look for two or more words. For example, you can search for Chicago AND Detroit, Chicago OR Detroit, Chicago AND_NOT Detroit, Chicago OR_NOT Detroit. (Boolean operators are discussed later in this chapter.)
  • You can search for complete phrases, such as "price list enclosed."

Key word lookups are not case sensitive. For example, if you do a search for the key word "National," ACT! will include the words "National" (first letter capitalized), "NATIONAL" (all caps), and "national" (all lowercase) in the search results.

Wild cards, you make my heart sing

When you want to look up words that have specific groups of letters in them, you use wild cards. You denote a wild card search by placing an asterisk (*) before or after a group of letters. The following is an explanation of how to use wild cards:

  • An asterisk at the end of the group of letters: If you want to do a search for all the words that begin with the letters "con," type con*. When your search is complete, you will find such words as contest, conversation, convoluted, and conversion.
  • An asterisk at the beginning of a group of letters: If you want to do a search for all the words that end with the letters "con," type *con. After your search is completed, you will find such words as falcon, lexicon, and icon.
  • An asterisk at the beginning and ending of a group of letters: If you want to do a search for all the words that have the letters "con" in the middle of the word, type *con*. After your search is completed, you will find such words as intercontinental, economy, economical, and iconoclast.

Viewing the Status of Your Lookup

When ACT! completes your lookup, you see the first contact record of the lookup on-screen.

Determining the position of a contact record within a lookup

To determine the position, within the current lookup, of the contact record that's presently displayed on-screen, check the numbers that are displayed on the Status icon on the Toolbar. (See Figure 10-8.) For example, 7 of 15 means that this contact record is the 7th record out of a total of 15 records; 125 of 327 means that this contact record is the 125th record out of a total of 327 records.

Moving through a lookup one record at a time

You have a couple of ways to move -- one record at a time -- through the contact records of your lookup. You can use the Previous/Next Contact buttons or you can use the PageUp/PageDown keys.

  • The Previous/Next Contact buttons: Click the Previous/Next Contact buttons, located on the Toolbar (they're the buttons with the single arrows) to move to the prior or next contact in the lookup. The buttons are shown in Figure 10-8.
  • Ctrl+PageUp/Ctrl+PageDown keys: The Ctrl+PageUp/Ctrl+PageDown keys move you to the prior or next contact in the lookup.
  • PageUp/PageDown keys: The PageUp/PageDown keys move you to the prior or next contact in the lookup (if you selected the Move Between Records Using ACT! 2.0 Shortcut Keys command in the General tab of the Preferences dialog box).

Moving to the first or last record in a lookup

There are two or three ways in which you can move to the first or last contact record of your lookup. You can use the First/Last Record buttons on the Toolbar or the Home and End.

  • The First/Last Record buttons: Click the First/Last Record buttons (they're the buttons with the arrow facing a line) to move to the first or last record in the lookup. These buttons are shown in Figure 10-8.
  • Alt+Home/Alt+End: You can move to the first record in your lookup by pressing Alt+Home, and you can move to the last record in your lookup by pressing Alt+End.
  • Ctrl+Home/Ctrl+End: You can move to the first record in your lookup by pressing Ctrl+Home, and you can move to the last record in your lookup by pressing Ctrl+End (if you selected the Move Between Records Using ACT! 2.0 Shortcut Keys command in the General tab of the Preferences dialog box).

Using the Lookup indicator

The Lookup indicator, which is on the status bar at the bottom of the Contact window (see Figure 10-9), tells you the type of lookup -- Everyone, First Name, Last Name, City, State, and so on -- that you have performed. This indicator helps you keep track of how you grouped your contacts. For example, if the Lookup indicator says "All Contacts," all the contacts in the current group have been selected. (Grouping contacts is covered in Chapter 11.) If the Lookup indicator says "City," your lookup contains all contact records within a specific city.

Displaying a list of your contacts

With the ACT! Contact List window, you can see the results of your database search as a list. From the Contact List, you can select an individual contact's record from a list instead of having to scroll through each contact record in the Contact window.

To open the Contact List window (shown in Figure 10-10), select View-->Contact List, press F8, or click the View Contact List icon. I discuss ACT!'s Contact List in Chapter 8.

Using ACT!'s Contact List to Further Refine Your Lookup

After you've performed a lookup to group a number of people together, the Contact List enables you to remove selected people from the lookup.

Removing a single person from the lookup

This is how you remove a single person from a lookup:

  1. Highlight the person you wish to remove from the lookup by clicking the person's Contact button.

    Every person has a Contact button, which is located at the left edge of the Contact List.

  2. Click the right mouse button and select the Omit Selected command from the menu that appears.
  3. Release the right mouse button and the person is removed from the lookup.

Removing more than one person from the lookup

This is how you remove more than one person from a lookup:

  1. Highlight the people you wish to remove from the lookup by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking each person's Contact button.
  2. Click the right mouse button and select the Omit Selected command from the menu that appears.
  3. Release the right mouse button and the people are removed from the lookup.

You can highlight a group of adjacent contact records by holding down the Shift key and clicking the Contact button of the first person and then clicking the Contact button of the last person in the sequence.

You can also refine your lookup by highlighting a group of contacts, clicking the right mouse button, and selecting the Lookup Selected command from the subsequent menu.

Here's an example of how I use the ACT! Contact List to further refine my ACT! searches. When I go on a business trip, let's say to Dallas, I search my ACT! database for all the people I know in Dallas, and then I view the list of contacts in the Contact List window. I hold down the Ctrl key and click the Contact button to tag the contacts I want to remove from the lookup; then I select the Omit Selected command from the right mouse button menu, and the tagged contacts are removed from the lookup.

Scrolling through your contact list

To scroll through the contact list from the keyboard, you can either use the up- and down-arrow keys or the Page Up and Page Down keys. To scroll through the contact list with your mouse, click and hold the up- or down-scroll buttons with your mouse pointer. Pressing Ctrl+Home takes you to the first item on the list; pressing Ctrl+End takes you to the last item on the list.

Saving Your Lookups

After you've gone through the effort of creating a lookup, you may want to save it so that you won't have to go through the process a second time. With ACT!'s Group feature, you can save your lookups. I cover creating, using, and managing groups in Chapter 11.

Performing Custom Database Queries

In ACT!, you're able to perform custom database searches that go way beyond the commands that are available from the Lookup menu. To perform an ACT! custom lookup, select Lookup-->By Example from either the Contact or Group window and the Query Contact window appears, as shown in Figure 10-11.

From the Query contact window, you can instruct ACT! to search for contacts who match specific search criteria. When you perform a lookup for all the people who live or work in a particular city, such as Chicago, that's a criterion. When you perform a lookup for a person by his or her first name, last name, or anything else, that's also a criterion. If you were to combine these two criteria, for example, to lookup everyone who has the last name of Smith and lives in Chicago, you create a custom lookup.

From the Query contact screen, you can perform lookups for contacts who meet all sorts of criteria. You can, for example, perform a lookup of all your clients (as opposed to prospects) who live in Dallas, Detroit, or Los Angeles and who have placed an order with you within the last 90 days. (This assumes that you set up your ACT! fields in such a way that you store this type of information.)

All of the drop-down menus and Edit List boxes that you use within your ACT! contact screens are accessible from the Query Contact window. Your ACT! layouts are also available. To change layouts in the Query Contact window, click the Layout button at the bottom of the window and select the layout from which you want to perform your query.

ACT! doesn't automatically erase search criteria once the search has been performed. This enables you to reopen the Query Contact window and refine your search even further by adding another item to the search criteria. So whenever you want to perform a new query, you need to clear your query screen of the previous query. To clear your search criteria from your last query, select Query-->Clear Query. To create a new query, select File-->New or press Ctrl+N.

Performing custom contact lookups

With ACT!, you can perform very powerful searches that enable you to find contacts who meet complex search criteria. On the following pages, I give you some examples of how you can search your ACT! database. The more you explore ACT! custom query features, the better you'll get at performing database searches. In these examples, I introduce two new terms: Logical operators and Boolean operators, which I explain after these examples. My purpose in writing this part of the chapter in this manner is to give you the examples first and then explain how ACT! performs these custom lookups.

Example 1: Looking for clients in Dallas

Say that you want to perform a lookup for all of your clients who live in a specific city; for illustrative purposes, I'll use Dallas. This is what you do:

  1. From the Query Contact window, enter the criteria you want ACT! to use to perform a custom lookup.

    In this example, you enter the city's name -- that is, Dallas -- in the City field and the word Client in the ID/Status field of the Query Contact window. (This assumes that you categorize your contacts in the ID/Status field and that one of the categories is "Client.") Remember that you should use your drop-down menus or Edit List boxes (press F2) to enter information.

  2. To run this query, select Query-->Run Query.

Because I want to give you a more thorough explanation of what ACT! does to create this custom query, I'm going to suggest that you not run the query just yet. After you've entered the basic criteria, choose the Convert to Advanced Query command from the Query menu, and the Advanced Query window appears, as shown in Figure 10-12. ACT! has taken the entries that you made in the Query contact window and made a phrase (( City = "Dallas"* )) AND ((ID/Status = "Client"* )) out of it.

Proper spacing and the insertion of quotation marks are very important to an ACT! query. You must have a blank space between the left and right parenthesis marks and the first and last character in the statement. The word City identifies the ACT! field in the statement. The equal sign (=) is a Logical operator, and the word "Dallas" (note the quotation marks) is the value, which is the data you enter into a field. Values are not case sensitive and must always be set inside quotation marks ("__"). The word AND that connects the two statements in the phrase is a Boolean operator.

The asterisk (*) after the value -- ( City = "Dallas"* )-- is the Logical operator for Begins With. ACT! inserts an asterisk at the end of every value as a default.

Example 2: Looking for clients who live in Texas but do not live in Dallas

To modify the previous example a bit, suppose that you want to look for all of your clients who live in Texas but do not live in Dallas. This is what your search string should look like: (( ( State = "TX"* ) AND ( City <> "Dallas"* ) )) AND ( ID/Status = "Client"* ).

Note the triple parentheses around the first part of this search string -- (( ( State = "TX"* ) AND ( City <> "Dallas" ) )). The triple parentheses tells ACT! that you want it to look for everybody in Texas except for those who live in Dallas, and who is a client.

Example 3: Searching for birthdays

Many people like to keep a record of the birthdays of their important customers, clients, family, and friends so that they can remember to send them a card, buy them a gift, or take them out to dinner. Here's an easy way to set up your ACT! Birthday fields.

  1. Designate a field as a Birthday field.

    In this example, I designate the User 2 field as the Birthday field.

  2. Create a drop-down menu, with Descriptions, with the twelve months of the year -- that is, January, February, March, and so on; and their abbreviations Jan., Feb., March, and so on -- as the Item.

    Drop-down menus are created from within the Define Fields dialog box. You open the Define Fields dialog box by selecting Edit-->Define Fields. (I discuss defining ACT! fields, and creating drop-down menus in Chapter 6.)

    Using a drop-down menu makes the entry of the month of birth easy and keeps all of your entries consistent. January is abbreviated as Jan., for example.

  3. To find everyone who has a January birthday, choose Lookup-->By Example to bring up the Query screen.
  4. Enter Jan.* in the User 2 field.
  5. Select Query-->Run Query, and ACT! searches for everybody who has a January birthday.

    That was easy, wasn't it?

If you were to convert your query to an ACT! Advanced Query before you clicked OK, this is what your search string would look like: (( "User 2" = "Jan."* )).

When you type Jan.* in the User 2 field, it becomes (( "User 2" = "Jan."* )). The asterisk, (*), which is called a wild card, after the word "Jan." tells ACT! to look for a string of characters that starts with the word "Jan." Starts With is the Logical operator.

If you want to perform a lookup of your clients who have a January birthday, you enter Jan.* in the User 2 field and Client in the ID/Status field. This is how your search string looks: (( "User 2" = "Jan."* )) AND (( ID/Status = "Client"* )).

In the example above, note that in the phrase (( "User 2" = "Jan."* )), the words "User 2" are enclosed in quotation marks. ACT! encloses fields that have two or more words in quotation marks. In previous versions of ACT!, the phrase would have been written as (( User_2 = "Jan."* )).

Example 4: Searching for contacts based on dates

You can also search for contacts based on a date or range of dates. On the bottom of the User Field tab of the Classic Contact Two layout, ACT! records the following:

  • Last Meeting: The date of your last meeting with a person.
  • Last Reach: The date that you last reached a person on the phone.
  • Last Attempt: The date that you last attempted to reach a person on the phone.
  • Letter Date: The date you last sent the person a letter, memo, or fax; and the date the contact record was created, merged, or edited. (This is why it's so important that you clear your activities and log your correspondence into the contact's History file.)
  • Create Date: The date a contact record was created.
  • Edit Date: The date a contact record was last edited.
  • Merge Date: The date a contact record was merged into this database.

To perform a search of all the people whom you haven't spoken with on the phone since, let's say, December 1, 1996, you do this:

  1. From the contact screen, select Lookup-->By Example.

    The Custom Query window appears.

  2. Enter 12/1/96 in the Last Reach field.
  3. Convert your query to an ACT! Advanced Query by selecting Query-->Convert to Advanced Query.

    The Advanced Query window opens (see Figure 10-13.)

    As you can see, the query string reads (( "Last Reach" = "12/1/96"* )). But you want to find the people whom you haven't spoken with since at least December 1, 1996. So you need to change the equal sign (=) to the less than or equal to sign (<=), which tells ACT! to look for a date of 12/1/96 or earlier.

  4. Highlight the equal sign (=) in the phrase.
  5. Highlight the is less than or equal to sign (<=), (which is a Logical operator) in the Query Helper dialog box.
  6. Click the Insert button, and ACT! replaces the equal sign (=) with the is less than or equal to sign (<=).
  7. Remove the asterisk from the "12/1/96"* value.

    The search string now reads (( "Last Reach" <= "12/1/96"* )).

  8. Select Query-->Check Query Syntax to have ACT! check your query.

    A message box appears to tell you if the query is properly formatted or if there is a formatting error.

  9. Select Query-->Run Query.

    ACT! searches your database for every contact whom you haven't spoken to since at least December 1, 1996.

To find everybody you spoke with on the phone during the month of December 1996 (the period of time from December 1, 1996, through December 31, 1996), your search string should look like this: (( "Last Reach" >= "12/1/96"* )) AND (( "Last Reach" <= "12/31/96"* )).

Another way to find everybody you spoke with on the phone during the month of December 1996 would be to use the range (..) Boolean operator. With the range Boolean operator, you can search for a range of dates. Your search string should look like this: (( "Last Reach" = "12/1/96"* )) .. (( "Last Reach" = "12/31/96"* )).

When you're replacing an existing operator with a new operator -- this can be either a Logical operator or a Boolean operator -- highlight the operator that you want to replace in the search string and then double-click on the operator that you want to replace it with, and the new operator will overwrite the old operator. When you replace operators in this manner, you eliminate the possibility of typing the wrong characters in the search string.

To find everybody you had some type of contact with during the month of December 1996 (the period of time from December 1, 1996, through December 31, 1996), your search string should look like this: (( "Edit Date" >= "12/1/96"* )) AND (( "Edit Date" <= "12/31/96"* )).

In ACT!, whenever you make any changes to a contact's information, the date of that change is automatically entered in the Edit Date field. The next time your boss asks you for a list of everybody you spoke with on the phone, had a meeting with, or sent a letter, memo, or fax to during the past week (or any period of time), perform your custom database search on the Edit Date field. ACT! searches your database based upon the range of dates you selected in the Edit Date field, and you have your list in just a few moments.

Using the Query Helper dialog box

You use the Query Helper dialog box, which is shown way back in Figure 10-12, to create a new query or edit an existing query. The easiest way to insert field names, Logical operators, and Boolean operators into your query is with the Query Helper dialog box.

ACT! places both Logical operators and Boolean operators together in the Query Helper dialog box. For explanation purposes, I refer to them separately.

The Query Helper spares you the trouble of entering the information from the keyboard, thus reducing the possibility or making a mistake.

To insert ACT!'s field names, Logical operators, or Boolean operators into a query, highlight the field name or operator you want to insert and click the Insert button. You can also double-click the field name or operator with your mouse.

Insert as much search criteria as you can into your query by entering information in the fields of the Query contact window. After you've entered this information, convert your query to an Advanced Query by selecting the Query-->Convert to Advanced Query command. Then all you do is make changes to the Logical operators or Boolean operators. Should you need to move, copy, or rearrange the statements or phrases within the query, use the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands. This method spares you the trouble of typing in the search statements and reduces the possibility of entering a statement incorrectly.

To hide the Query Helper dialog box, click the Close button, and it disappears. To show the Query Helper dialog box, choose Query-->Show Query Helper, and it reappears.

Using Logical operators

Logical operators are words and symbols that show the relationship between a specific field and it's value. In the example (( City = "Dallas"* )), City identifies the ACT! field, the equal sign (=) is the Logical operator, and "Dallas" is the value. (Note the quotation marks around the value Dallas.) Table 10-2 is a list of Logical operators.

Table 10-2

Logical Operators (Symbols)

Symbol

Meaning

=

Equal to

>

Greater than

<

Less than

<>

Not equal to

<=

Less than or equal to

>=

Greater than or equal to

<<>>

Blank

Blank

Blank

The following list presents word-based operators:

  • Starts With: The field that you are searching contains data that starts with a specific letter, number, word, or part of a word. Type ___* in a Query field, and it becomes ___* in the Advanced Query window. For example, if you wanted to search for all the zip codes in Atlanta, you would type 303* in the zip code field.
  • Ends With: The field that you are searching contains data that ends with a specific letter, number, word, or part of a word. Type *___ in a Query field, and it becomes *___ in the Advanced Query window. For example, if you want to search for all your contacts who have contracts that are coming up for renewal in 1997, you would type *1997 in the Contract Expiration field.
  • Contains: The field that you are searching contains a specified combination of letters and/or numbers. Type *___* in a Query field, and it becomes *___* in the Advanced Query window.

For example, let's say that you've designated a specific ACT! field as your "products of interest" field. In this field, you insert the names of the products -- Widgets, Thingamajigs, and Whatchamacallits -- that your customers have indicated they may be interested in purchasing. The next time that you have a sale on Widgets, you search your database for everybody whose "products of interest" field contains Widgets. To perform this search, you would type *Widgets* in the "products of interest" field, and in a few moments, ACT! creates a group of everybody in your database who has indicated that they may be interested in buying Widgets. Now all you have to do is call them.

To find a field that is empty -- that is, one that contains no information -- position the cursor in the field you want to check, press Ctrl+F5 to insert the characters "<<>>" in the field. Select Query-->Run Query, and ACT! finds every contact in the active lookup or active group in which this field is empty. If, for example, you were looking up contacts that had an empty Zip Code field, your search string would look like this: ( ZIP = "" ). Note that the equal (=) character represents "equal" and the empty quotation marks ("") make the statement read "Zip Code equals empty."

To find a field that contains some information -- that is, one that is not empty -- position the cursor in the field you want to check and place an asterisk (*) in the field. Click OK, and ACT! finds every contact in the active lookup or active group in which this field is not empty. If, for example, you want to look up contacts that do not have an empty User 1 field, your search string should look like this: ( "User 1" <> "" ). Note that the not equal to character (<>) represent does not equal, and the empty quotation marks ("") represent an empty field, so the statement reads "User 1 does not equal empty."

Using Boolean operators

You use Boolean operators to combine a series of simple queries into a sophisticated and extremely powerful custom query. I suppose that's why ACT! calls them advanced queries.

Table 10-3 is a list of Boolean operators and what they mean:

Table 10-3

Boolean Operators

Symbol

Truth Value

AND

(Condition 1 is True) and (Condition 2 is True)

&&

(Condition 1 is True) and (Condition 2 is True)

OR

(Condition 1 is True) or (Condition 2 is True)

||

(Condition 1 is True) or (Condition 2 is True)

AND_NOT

(Condition 1 is True) and (Condition 2 is False)

OR_NOT

(Condition 1 is True) or (Condition 2 is False)

.. (Range)

With the Range Boolean operator, you can search for a range of dates.

You must place double parentheses at the beginning and end of phrases that are connected with a Boolean operator, as in (( State = "TX"* )) AND (( City <> "Dallas"* )). When you have a multiple Boolean statement, you need to use a triple parenthesis. Note how parentheses are used to group this statement together: ((State = "TX"* )) AND ( ((City <> "Dallas"* )) OR ((CITY <> "FT.WORTH"*)) ).

Checking your SmartQuery

Always test your SmartQuery before you execute it. To test your query, select Query-->Check Query Syntax. If your query is properly formatted, a message box appears saying, "The Advanced Query is formatted correctly." If your query is not properly formatted, you get an error message that tells you that ACT! was expecting to find a value, a Logical operator, or a Boolean operator, and you'll have to correct your formatting error.

Sorting your query

After you've created your query and checked it for errors, you can select the field that you want ACT! to sort the database search on. You may want to do this when you're creating a report, for example. Or, going back to one of my earlier examples, when you performed your lookup for clients who live in Texas but don't live in Dallas, you can then tell ACT! how you want it to sort that database search -- by last name, company, city, zip code, and so on.

To sort your query, select the Query-->Specify Query Sort command, and the Sort Contacts dialog box, as shown in Figure 10-14, appears. I discuss sorting queries earlier in this chapter.

Executing a query

When you're ready to execute a query from the Query window, choose Run Query from the Query menu, and ACT! executes your query.

Saving a query

After you've created a custom query, you save it by selecting the File-->Save command or by pressing Ctrl+S. If you want to save an existing query with a new name, select the File-->Save As command or press F12. Queries are saved in ACT!'s queries directory. Saving your queries has several useful benefits. Here are a couple:

  • When you want to perform the same query at some future time, you won't have to re-create the query.
  • You can use a previous query as the foundation for another query.

Assign your queries to a macro and they run about four times faster because the macro takes complete control over your computer's central processing unit. (I cover macros in Chapter 21.)

Opening a query

To open a previously saved query, select Lookup-->By Example from either the Contact or Group window, and the Query window opens. Choose the File-->Open command or press Ctrl+O, and the Open Query dialog box appears. Highlight the query you want to open, click Open, and ACT! opens the Advanced Query window.

Creating a new query

To create a new query, select Lookup-->Other and then choose the File-->New command or press Ctrl+N. ACT! clears all previous query entries and gives you a clean Query Contact window to work with.

Adding your custom queries to the Lookup menu

ACT! makes it easy for you to use the custom queries you create. You just add the custom query as an additional lookup item that's available from the Lookup menu.

To add your custom query to the Lookup menu, select the Lookup-->Modify Menu command, and the Modify Menu dialog box appears where you can add queries to the menu.

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