guides : How to use FastForward

An illustrated guide on using the FastForward utility for Outlook Express

by Neo

FastForward (previously known as SpamTrainer) is a small utility that makes it easier to train the PlusNet spam filters. For more information on the PlusNet spam filters, see this guide.


Basically it allows the user to 'forward' any emails to PlusNet that should be identified as spam. Once configured, using FastForward is very is easy and there are several ways of using it, depending on the user's preference. Please read the readme file that accompanies FastForward before you use it for any updates and instructions. Much of the instructions in the readme file are repeated here, but the Readme file is more likely to contain extra information.


Setting Up

After installing FastForward, double click on the shorcut on your desktop. A window like the following should appear:

fastforward - main window


1) Email account - FastForward should select the first email account it can find automatically. This email account will be the one FastForward uses to send the emails. If this isn't the one you want to use, then select the correct account from the drop-down list:

email accounts


2) Outlook Express - FastForward has lots of options; one of these options is to 'Start Outlook Express on load'. This, unsurprisingly, gets FastForward to start Outlook Express when FastForward loads/starts. To do this, FastForward needs to know where Outlook Express is. If you want to make use of this option, click on the 'Outlook Express' tab and make sure the location of the Outlook Express executable file (usually called msimn.exe) is correct.

Outlook Express location


If the location is not correct (or if you don't know), click on the 'Browse' button. A window like the one below should appear. When you have correctly identified the location of Outlook Express you will see the recognizable envelope icon - Outlook Express Icon

Browsing for Outlook Express


3) During the initial setup of FastForward it's a good idea to check that FastForward is able to get the email message info from Outlook Express. To do this, click on the 'Setup' tab. The tab should look like the following screenshot:

Setup tab


Start Outlook Express if it isn't already running. Then click on the 'Test Message Fetch' button.

Testing message fetch

The email properties of the currently selected email (in Outlook Express) should appear in the 'Email properties' box. The subject line should be highlighted and the text below starting
'Subject: ' should quote the email subject. If the email subject has not been correctly picked-out by FastForward then you will need to untick 'Find subject automatically' and click on the subject line yourself. As long as the column settings in Outlook Express are not changed frequently, you should only have to perform this step when you set up FastForward for the first time.


4) Prefixes

FastForward has two types of prefix:

Prefix to add - this is a prefix that FastForward adds to the beginning of the subject just before it sends the email. When Outlook Express forwards emails it adds 'FW: ' so this is the default 'add prefix' that FastForward uses.

Prefix to remove - this is a prefix that FastForward looks for and removes (if it can find it) from the beginning of the email subject. 'remove prefixes' are removed before 'add prefixes' are added.


5) Options

FastForward has lots of options listed on the 'Options' tab. Hopefully the descriptions aren't too obscure - they should be self explanatory! The readme file covers these in more detail if you require it.

Using FastForward

The idea behind FastForward is simple:

FastForward should then automatically forward the spam email to PlusNet to train their spam filter(s), depending on the options you have selected.


Shrunken window

There are several ways to use FastForward, the main one being to set FastForward to always remain on top and then to shrink it down. If you tick 'Keep FastForward on top' this makes the FastForward window stay on top of the pile so it is always visible. Then if you click on the 'Shrink' button, the FastForward will shrink in size to something like the image below:

shrunken window

This compact form means it can be moved around and it won't obscure much of the windows below. Clicking on the 'Expand' restores the FastForward window to it's full size.

You can then move the FastForward window to a suitable location (example shown below) making it instantly accessible from Outlook Express.

shrunken button in outlook express

Select the offending email from the right-hand-side (the email subject is ""This is a spam email" in the above screenshot).


Then click on the 'Mark as spam' button. FastForward will automatically forward the email to PlusNet and place the email in your Outbox. Depending on the settings in Outlook Express, the email may be sent immediately or be left in the Outbox until Outlook Express checks for messages.

sending email


System Tray

Another way of using FastForward is to place it in the Windows System Tray (bottom right-hand corner). Click on the 'Send to system tray' button and the FastForward icon should appear like the one shown below:

system tray

(Left) Clicking on the FastForward icon (in the system tray) has the same effect as clicking on the 'Mark as spam' button. Any email currently select in Outlook Express will be forwarded to PlusNet.

Alternatively, you can right-click on the icon to bring up the context menu, shown below:


Restore - restores the FastForward window
Mark as Spam - same as clicking on the 'Mark as spam' button
Exit - closes FastForward


Uninstall previous versions before installing each version of FastForward.

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