Starting Apps via Outlook

So my new Motorola Triumph phone has a nice big screen and rich sound via headphones. I used to use an Archos AV-420 to watch downloaded video, but when its AC adapter died, I switched over to using my iPod Nano to watch TV shows and movies. But while the Nano has a vibrant screen, it’s awfully small. And the iPod requires most videos to be converted to mp4 – a simple process using VidCoder, but an annoyance all the same. With the free MoboPlayer app for Android, I can watch those same video files on my phone – with its relatively giant screen – without conversion!

Here’s the thing, though: as of now I only have an 8GB memory card in my phone. With storing camera pictures and videos, apps, data and music for Spotify I only have around 4GB of free space on the card. This is plenty for the moment, as TV is mostly airing re-runs until after Labor Day.

One day soon I’ll upgrade the card to a 16GB model. But in the meantime I use HFS (a simple HTML-based file sharing app) to share my video folder on my local network. I watch a video on my phone, delete it, and then fire up the phone’s web browser to download a new TV show or movie to watch.

But the thing is, I’m lazy. I don’t want HFS running all the time on my computer, but I don’t want to go “all the way” upstairs or get out of bed to start it up as needed, either. And that’s where Outlook comes in.

There’s a little known feature in the rules section that allows you to start a program when an email arrives that meets certain criteria:


In my case, I set up a rule for Outlook to start HFS when it receives an email with the subject line “WH47H*QA-HFS” (not the actual text I use, but something similar). I then created this simple batch file which forces HFS to exit:

taskkill /f /im hfs.exe

I then set up another rule, which runs the batch file any time an email is received with the subject line “WH47H*QA-KILLHFS” (again, this is not the actual text I use, but it’s similar).

So now when I need to download a new video to my phone, I just use the Gmail client on my phone to send an email with the appropriate subject line to my POP account. True, I have to wait 4 minutes for Outlook to do a send\receive before starting HFS, but it’s a small price to pay for laziness. And you could use this method to start (or end) any number of tasks remotely.

Try it out for yourself and let me know what you use it for!

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