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Chapter 4. Microsoft Office Annoyances > OUTLOOK AND OUTLOOK EXPRESS ANNOYANCES



The Annoyance:

All of a sudden Outlook is opening Microsoft Word when I create a new email, and I can't seem to get things back to normal. How did that happen, and more importantly, how do I stop it?

The Fix:

Yours is a very common grievance. It occurs when you fiddle with Outlook's settings, inadvertently click something, and forget that you've done it. (I do this all the time.) In Outlook, choose Tools → Options. In Version 97, select the E-mail tab if it's not already selected, uncheck the "Use Microsoft Word as the e-mail editor" box, and select OK. In Versions 2000 and XP (2002), select the Mail Format tab and uncheck "Use Microsoft Word to edit email messages."


The Annoyance:

There are so many creeps on the Internet, and some of the email messages I send contain information they'd love to get their mitts on. To prevent that from happening, I got a digital certificate for signing and encrypting certain messages. But the Sign and Encrypt buttons don't appear in the Outlook Express toolbar, so I can't sign or encrypt a message with a single click.

The Fix:

You can get these buttons on the message toolbar, just not on the toolbar of the main Outlook Express window.

The Sign and Encrypt buttons appear by default in the toolbar of a message-editing window (where you compose a new message or newsgroup post, forward a message, or reply to a message). If the buttons don't appear in the window, do the following:

  • Be sure the toolbar hasn't been truncated because the window is too narrow to display all buttons. If a >> symbol appears at the right end of the toolbar, make the window wider or click >> to display the buttons that don't fit, as shown in Figure 4-37.

  • If the buttons really aren't in the toolbar, right-click the toolbar and choose Customize. You should be able to add, remove, or rearrange the buttons to suit your needs.

Figure 4-37. The Sign and Encrypt buttons-plus a few others you didn't know were lurking there-normally appear when you click the ≫ symbol.


The Annoyance:

When I receive a message with an attached file, both Outlook and Outlook Express refuse to let me save or open the attachment.

The Fix:

This is a security measure. The vast majority of viruses and Trojan horse programs are distributed through email attachments, and there are plenty of people who have unwittingly done untold damage to their computers and their friends' computers by opening attachments they shouldn't have. Microsoft shut this door, and rightly so. The problem is that it's hard to work with attachments that you know are safe.

The first solution is, unfortunately, a lifestyle change. Inform your correspondents that you no longer accept executable files or other unsafe file types. Ask them to zip all files before they send them to you, which has the added benefit of creating smaller attachments. Outlook and Outlook Express happily accept .zip archives. (You're still responsible, however, for ensuring that the files within the zip file are virus-free before you open them. Be sure your antivirus program is up to date and properly configured to scan email attachments and other files as you open them.)

Of course, some of your friends are too stubborn to honor your request-or can't figure out how to zip files. Your options:

  • In Outlook Express, open Tools → Options, click the Security tab, and uncheck "Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus." Click OK and retrieve the attached file. Then return to the Options dialog box and check the box. Leave it set except for those rare times when you need to get a particular attachment. Trust me.

  • Outlook doesn't offer such a simple workaround. You'll find lots of arcane workarounds (including various Registry hacks and even editing .dll files), utilities, and information about Outlook attachment blocking at the wonderful Slipstick Systems site at http://snipurl.com/getexe.

    One goofy, but effective, workaround is to open Outlook Express (that's right, Express) and import the Outlook message into Outlook Express. (Choose File → Import → Messages.) Then disable attachment blocking in Outlook Express as described above.

    If you need to receive attachments often, the best solution is Ken Slovak's Attachment Options, which you can download from http://www.oreilly.com/pcannoyances. Attachment Options adds a new tab to Outlook's Options dialog box that lets you control how Outlook accesses attachments.


The Annoyance:

Outlook Express 5 and Outlook 2000 can share a single Contacts folder so that I can manage all my contacts in one place. It's a fantastic feature, but it's disappeared from Outlook Express 6 and Outlook 2002.

The Fix:

For those who still use Outlook Express 5 and Outlook 2000 (or Outlook 98), let me first explain how to set this up. First, open the Address Book by clicking the Addresses button in the Outlook Express Toolbar, and choose Help → About. If the dialog box doesn't show a path to a .wab file, you're already sharing your Contacts folder with Outlook. Congratulations. If sharing isn't set up, you can go through the Tools → Options dialog box in Outlook Express. There are some limitations:

  • You must be using Outlook Express 5.0 or 5.5.

  • You must be using Outlook 98 or Outlook 2000, and it must be configured in Internet Mail Only mode. To find out, choose Help → About. The line above the copyright notice indicates which mode-Corporate/Workgroup, Internet Mail Only, or No E-mail-Outlook is in.

  • You can use only the Contacts folder in the default Personal Folders (.pst) file in the default profile.

  • You can't use shared contacts with multiple identities in Outlook Express.

Although contact sharing is no longer supported in Outlook 2002 or Outlook Express 6 and has been removed from the Options dialog box, it's available with a Registry edit. Here's how:

  1. In Registry Editor, navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\WAB\WAB4 key.

  2. If a value named UseOutlook does not exist, choose Edit → New → DWORD Value. Name the new value UseOutlook. (For help using the Registry and Registry Editor, see "What's the Registry" in Chapter 2).

  3. Double-click the UseOutlook value and change its value data to 1.

With the value data set to 1, Outlook Express no longer uses a .wab file with Windows Address Book; instead it uses the Contacts folder in Outlook. If you later want to disable contact sharing, delete the UseOutlook value or set it to 0.


The Annoyance:

Outlook 2002 displays an address bar along with Go, Stop, and Refresh buttons in its main window, as you can see in Figure 4-38. This makes Outlook a crude web browser, and in fact, you can display web pages within Outlook's window. But I don't use it and it takes up valuable space. It's resizable, so I drag it over to one side to make it as small as possible. (Mini-annoyance: You can't get rid of the word "Address".) But the next time I start Outlook, the address bar returns to full size. How can I make it go away for good?

The Fix:

It turns out that Outlook does remember the size of the address bar-to a point. If you drag the sizing handle (the small vertical bar to the left) so that the address bar occupies only half its original space, the address bar remains shrunk the next time you open Outlook. But if you drag the sizing handle all the way to the right (or double-click it) so that the address bar is at its absolute minimum size, it returns to its full ugliness with the next start.

Here's what's going on: Outlook stores the size of the address bar in the Registry when you close Outlook, and it reuses that size the next time you start the program. If you drag it all the way to the right, Outlook stores the size as 0 (logically enough). When you restart Outlook, it misinterprets the 0 and assumes you want full width (187). You can fix Microsoft's stupidity in two ways:

Figure 4-38. Sick of the useless Address bar? You can get rid of it-almost.

  • Resize the address bar almost to its minimum size-but don't drag all the way to the right.

  • To get the smallest size that Outlook will reliably restore, open Registry Editor and navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\ 10.0\Outlook\Options key. Double-click the AddressBarWidth value and set it to 1.


The Annoyance:

I'm an email junkie-I easily receive over a hundred emails a day, and maintain an archive of over 10,000 messages. My beef: Outlook is lousy when it comes to searching and organizing all this stuff.

The Fix:

I might suggest a 12-step program for your addiction, but no matter-scrounge $40 and pick up a copy of Caelo's Nelson Email Organizer. NEO organizes, catalogs, and indexes your email to the max, without touching the actual messages. As a result, you can do sophisticated (and fast) searches and save them; automatically redirect mail by sender, type, date, etc.; prioritize mail; and more. Integration with Outlook is seamless-you can hop between the two programs by clicking a button. Another plus: NEO works with Windows 9x and later and Outlook 97 and later. Alas, it doesn't support Outlook Express. I suspect many of NEO's features will find their way into Outlook. Until then, download the 30-day free trial from http://www.oreilly.com/pcannoyances.


The Annoyance:

I tried an add-in program for Microsoft Outlook XP and decided to uninstall it. But the damn thing won't go. Every time I run Outlook, I get an error message saying Outlook can't install or load the add-in! (See Figure 4-39.)

The Fix:

Looks like you're stuck with an add-in that doesn't know when to quit. Here's how to give this annoyance its walking papers. Open Outlook and select Tools → Options, click the Other tab and then the Advanced Options button. Click the Add-In Manager button; in the dialog box that appears, uncheck the add-in and click OK, and then OK twice more (see Figure 4-40). If the program isn't listed there, go back to the Advanced Options dialog and click the COM Add-Ins button, select the add-in, and click the Remove button.


If you're anything like me, you love internet time-wasters. here's one that'll easily kill an hour. Click each of Bewitched's links. If you're restless, just go to "whirligig" and click your mouse a while (http://snipurl.com/whirligig).

Figure 4-39. This is the pesky error I received every time I launched Outlook.

Figure 4-40. Outlook add-ins may hang around long after you've decided to stop using them-or after you've uninstalled them-giving you an annoying error message.

Almost-Automatic Outlook Backups

Ever wonder which Outlook files are the most critical to back up? Don't bother. Microsoft's Personal Folders Backup utility makes tucking away critical .pst files in Outlook 2000 and 2002 practically automatic. The Microsoft Office Download Center offers this great freebie at http://www.oreilly.com/pcannoyances.


The Annoyance:

When I start to address an email in either the To or Cc field in Outlook, the first address in the drop-down list is an obsolete one. The address I want to use is the one right below it. Not only can't I skip past the first address, I can't get rid of it because it isn't in my Contact list! How did it get there and how do I get rid of it?

The Fix:

This is a frustrating problem with an easy solution! You're a victim of Outlook's autocomplete feature: Outlook keeps track of everything you've ever typed in the To and Cc boxes, hoping you'll want to use them again some day, but they're not saved in any address book. When you type the first few letters in the address field and the old name appears, press the Up and Down arrow keys to highlight it, then press Delete.


The Annoyance:

I upgraded to Outlook 2003. I like the new features, but searching is still slow. And you still can't search in email attachments.

The Fix:

Fret no more. You want the aptly named Lookout, an add-in that's one of the coolest Outlook productivity tools around. You can search inside practically any file on your drive, including spreadsheets, Word documents, Favorites, HTML files, and, yes, email attachments. You can search in a variety of ways using Boolean-type operators such as Steve +Bass -guitar. Try special keywords-"lastweek" and "yesterday", for example-to narrow your search to everything in the last week or just the other day, or search only email with attachments. (See Lookout in action in Figure 4-41.) Click a result and you'll launch the application associated with the file. Searches are really fast because Lookout uses an index to find files. Pawing through your hard drive and creating the initial index may take a few minutes or even a few hours, however, depending on the number of files on your PC and the speed of your system.

Figure 4-41. Lookout is a must-have add-in for Outlook users. It can do lickety-split searches half a dozen different ways, from email and contacts to Word documents and worksheets.

Here's the surprise: this used to be a commercial product costing $40. But now that Microsoft's acquired the company (they wanted to use it on their MSN site), it's a freebie.

Unfortunately, Lookout won't work without Outlook (Versions 2000, XP, or 2003), but if you spend most of your day with Outlook opened, you really must download this valuable tool. You can pick up a copy at http://snipurl.com/lookoutsoft or http://snipurl.com/outlook_lookout.


The Annoyance:

I don't know how I got along before I had a computer and Outlook to remind me of every appointment, deadline, and task I would rather miss. It pops up a friendly reminder just in time for me to think up an excuse not to go. But sometimes Outlook forgets to display reminders-or it displays them hours after they should have appeared!

The Fix:

If reminders don't appear, they've probably been disabled. In Outlook, choose Tools → Options. In Outlook 97, click the Reminders tab and make sure "Display the reminder" is selected. In Outlook 2000 and later, click the Other tab, then the Advanced Options button and the Reminder Options button. Make sure the "Display the reminder" box is checked.

If reminders work sporadically, Outlook's database needs a reminder of who's in charge.

  1. Close Outlook.

  2. Click the Start button and choose Run.

  3. In the Run dialog box, type outlook /cleanreminders and click OK.

Outlook purges all its reminders, and then scans your appointments, tasks, and follow-up flags to rebuild the reminder list in the database.


Instead of typing a due date for a task in Outlook 2000 or 2002, enter a description, such as "last Friday of the month". Outlook will automatically convert that to numerical format. Try some: "first Monday in March", "30 days from now", "two months from last week", or "Cinco de Mayo".


Do you want to print envelopes or labels right from Outlook's contact list? Use Aladdins Envelopes & Labels, a nifty tool that allows you to do what Outlook ought to-select one or dozens of contacts, select either an envelope or the size label you want to use, and print. It's that simple. Aladdins Envelopes & Labels stores up to 20 label formats and 10 envelope styles, perfect for one envelope with your personal return address, another with your company's name, and another with, say, a logo. The one downside? At $39.95, Aladdin Envelopes & Labels isn't cheap, and it doesn't work with Outlook Express. There's a free trial version available at http://www.oreilly.com/pcannoyances.


The Annoyance:

I can tell by glancing at Outlook which days have appointments because those days are displayed in boldface-at least they're supposed to be. But sometimes Outlook doesn't correctly mark busy days in bold. What's the fix?

The Fix:

Like the previous annoyance, this one requires you to clean house:

  1. Close Outlook.

  2. Click the Start button and choose Run.

  3. In the Run dialog box, type outlook /cleanfreebusy and click OK.

Outlook rebuilds the list of busy days and displays them correctly in bold on the monthly calendar.


The Annoyance:

Microsoft Office products have a love affair with the My Documents location. How can I make them store files where I want them stored?

The Fix:

There are a few ways to sidestep Microsoft's obsession with tossing everything into My Documents.

  1. Windows Me lets you rename the folder, and Windows 2000 and XP let you choose another location where documents are saved when you choose My Documents:

    1. Close Microsoft Office and any other editing programs.

    2. Right-click My Documents (on the Windows desktop, in a Windows Explorer or folder window, or on the Start menu) and choose Properties.

    3. In Windows Me, highlight the name in the text box at the top of the General tab and rename the folder. In 2000 and XP, in the Target field, change the existing location (likely C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents) to wherever you want things saved. For working on this book, for example, I chose c:\annoyances\documents.

    4. Click OK. If you ever change your mind, you can restore the default by renaming the folder (Windows Me) or following the steps above and clicking the Restore Default button (Windows 2000 and XP).

  2. In Microsoft Office 2000 and XP applications, you can easily change the default folder for the Save and Open dialog boxes.

    • In Word, select Tools → Options, click on the File Locations tab, and adjust the locations as desired.

    • In Excel and Access, select Tools → Options, go to the General tab, and edit the "Default file location" field.

    • In PowerPoint, select Tools → Options, click on the Save tab, and edit the "Default file location" field.

  3. If you use Office 2000, there's a Microsoft tool that lets you add custom places to Office dialog boxes, including Open and Save As. The tool lets you edit the five available locations in the left pane, and if you choose small icons, you can add up to 10 user-defined locations. The file you need is places.exe, and it's available at http://www.oreilly.com/pcannoyances. Note that when you download the file, you'll discover that Microsoft includes a dumb self-extraction tool. What's important is that you read the readme.doc carefully-it tells you exactly how to install the places utility.


Windows will ask whether you want to move all the files in My Documents to your new location. Don't rush this decision; for now, answer no. You can easily move the files later using Windows Explorer.

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