An Outlook Express basic repair kit

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Article ID: 2398839 - View products that this article applies to.
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SUMMARY

These steps repair the most likely causes of unexpected behavior in Outlook Express with a minimum of effort.

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Close other programs

You will need both Outlook Express and Internet Explorer open. Save your work in any other programs and close them. This allows your repair steps to do their job without other programs making demands on your computer at the same time.

Delete the Temporary Internet Files

  1. In Internet Explorer, click Internet Options on the Tools menu.
  2. In the Temporary Internet files panel, click Delete files.
  3. In the pop-up alert window, select the Remove all offline files check box, and then click OK.
If you do not select the check box, the temporary files used by Outlook Express will not be removed.

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Clear Cache

Remove all offline files to delete Outlook Express temporary files.

This step often comes as a surprise. Each time you display a message, either in a message window or in the Preview pane, Outlook Express creates a temporary file to help it display the contents of the message. Each of those temporary files is stored in the Temporary Internet Files folder that is used by Internet Explorer. Sometimes one or more files in this folder are damaged, and that can cause Outlook Express to exhibit strange symptoms when displaying messages. All the files in Temporary Internet files truly are temporary, so there is no danger in deleting them. Doing so will not delete the actual messages in Outlook Express.

Compact all folders

  • In Outlook Express, click Work Offline on the File menu so that no new messages will be arriving.
  • In the Folder List, click on Outlook Express so that no e-mail or news folder is open.
  • Close the Folder List by clicking the X in the upper right-hand corner of the list panel. Alternatively you can click Layout on the View menu, and then clear the Folder List check box.
  • On the File menu, point to Folder, and then click Compact All Folders. Do not use your computer until the process is complete, which might take several minutes.
If an error occurs, close Outlook Express, re-open it, and begin the process again from the top. If the same error occurs again, close Outlook Express, restart your computer (or log off and then log on again), open Outlook Express and then begin the whole process again.

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Compacting


Let the compaction process finish before you try to use your computer.

Unexpected behaviors in Outlook Express can be caused by small errors in the file “Folders.dbx.” This file is the master index of the message store folder and damaged entries there can create all sorts of fun, such as the wrong message or folder being displayed. When you compact all folders you are also updating this master index. If you don’t compact all folders from time to time, you are more likely to see distinctly unfunny behavior.

Re-register Outlook Express

Damaged or missing entries in the Windows registry can prevent Outlook Express from being recognized as the default e-mail client. That it turn can cause odd behavior when replying to a newsgroup message or clicking an e-mail link on a Web page. A simple procedure causes Outlook Express to rewrite its main registry keys and so corrects such issues.
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type msimn /reg, and then click OK.
    (Note that you will not see anything happen.)
  3. In Internet Explorer click Options on the Tools menu.
  4. Click the Programs tab and select Outlook Express as the default e-mail client and as the default news client. You can change those later if you wish.

Re-register libraries

Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) are files that contain functions that may be shared by other programs, such as recognizing hyperlinks, displaying rich content, and so forth. These specific DLLs are used by Outlook Express, and can cause glitches in the visual display if they are damaged. Re-registering a DLL using regsvr32 is similar to reinstalling those functions and thus makes sure they are installed and working correctly.

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type regsvr32 urlmon.dll, and then click OK.
  3. Repeat step 1 for each of the following commands:
    regsvr32 mshtml.dll
    regsvr32 shdocvw.dll
    regsvr32 browseui.dll
    regsvr32 msjava.dll

Create new identity

This will create a new message store folder as well as all new registry keys. This should not be necessary unless our previous efforts have failed to correct the problems.
  1. Export your e-mail and news accounts in Outlook Express so that you can import them into a new Identity.
    1. Click Accounts on the Outlook Express Tools menu.
    2. Click the Mail tab and select the default account.
    3. Click the Export button and select a location for the exported file.
    4. Make sure the extension remains "iaf" (for Internet account file).
    5. Repeat steps B and C for all accounts.
    6. Click the News tab and repeat steps C and D for all accounts.
    7. After all mail and news accounts have been exported, click Close.
  2. On the File menu, click Identities, and then click Add New Identity.
  3. Type a name for the new Identity, and then click OK.
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    New Idendity
A new Identity allows you to start Outlook Express with all default settings, a useful way to work around registry or file damage.
  1. Click Yes to switch to the new Identity.
  2. Click Cancel to close the New Account wizard. If you are prompted to import settings or messages, select “Do not import at this time” or Cancel.
  3. Click Accounts on the Tools menu.
  4. Click the Import button and select the first *.iaf file from step 1. Repeat until all accounts have been imported.
  5. Import the mail messages from your old Identity.
    • On the File menu, click Import, and then click Messages.
    • Select Microsoft Outlook Express 6 from the list of programs, and then click Next.
    • Select the name of the Identity to import, and then click OK.

Reinstall or repair Outlook Express

By now you have repaired the most common causes of unexpected behavior in Outlook Express. If the behavior is still occurring, it is time to reinstall or repair the basic Outlook Express program files themselves. Because both Internet Explorer and Outlook Express are integrated into Windows itself, doing so is a little more complicated than for most programs. Microsoft has therefore prepared a detailed guide to reinstall or repair both Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. Be sure to read the article carefully and follow only the steps for your version of Windows and Service Packs.

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Article ID: 2398839 - Last Review: September 4, 2010 - Revision: 1.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Outlook Express 5.5
  • Microsoft Outlook Express 6.0
Keywords: 
kbrepair KB2398839

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