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OLEXP: How to create and use identities in Outlook Express 5.x and 6.0

This article was previously published under Q209169
For information about the differences between Microsoft Outlook Express and Microsoft Outlook e-mail clients, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
257824 OL2000: Differences Between Outlook and Outlook Express
SUMMARY
In earlier versions of Outlook Express, you can distinguish between multiple users by creating user profiles. In Outlook Express 5 and later, a new feature called identities performs this function. This article describes how to create, use, and manage identities in Outlook Express.
MORE INFORMATION
NOTE: This article and the additional articles that are referenced in this article assume that each user already has an e-mail account to view e-mail messages. If you do not have an e-mail account, you must obtain one from an Internet service provider (ISP) before you can use Outlook Express to view e-mail messages. Furthermore, this article does not describe how to configure an e-mail account, including what to type for the e-mail address, e-mail server type, incoming and outgoing e-mail servers, or password. For additional information about how to configure an e-mail account, see the "References" section of this article.

If you have more than one person in your house who uses the same computer for e-mail, each person can have a separate message store in Outlook Express. This means that each person can have separate messages, contacts, and personal settings. You can do this by creating multiple identities. After you create the identities, you can switch between those identities without shutting down your computer or losing your Internet connection.

If you do not have multiple people in your house who use the same computer for e-mail, but you have multiple e-mail accounts that you use to view e-mail messages, you do not need to use multiple identities. You can view all of your e-mail messages by using the same identity.

Do not confuse identities with e-mail accounts. For separate people to keep their e-mail completely separate, you need to configure each identity with a separate e-mail account. To do this, start Outlook Express by using the identity, and then add or configure the appropriate e-mail account.

For example, if you want two different people to view their e-mail messages separately, each person's identity needs to be configured with each person's own e-mail account. If you create two separate identities for two different people, but you configure each identity with the same e-mail account, both people receive the same e-mail messages. Similarly, if you create a new identity for a different person, but you do not configure the new identity with any e-mail accounts, the identity does not receive any e-mail messages.

Managing Identities

When you first start Outlook Express, a default main identity is created. The main identity is used until you switch to another identity or until you set another identity as the default. Because you are not using user profiles, you do not have to restart your computer to use a different identity, but you do have to quit and restart Outlook Express.

You can manage identities by using Identity Manager. You can use Identity Manager to modify existing identities, create new identities, and change default identities. To start Identity Manager, use one of the following methods:
  • On the File menu, click Switch Identity, and then click Manage Identities.
  • On the File menu, point to Identities, and then click Manage Identities.

Creating a New Identity

To create a new identity:
  1. View the New Identity dialog box by using one of the following methods:
    • On the File menu, point to Identities, and then click Add New Identity.
    • On the File menu, point to Identities, click Manage Identities, and then click New.
    • On the File menu, click Switch Identity, click Manage Identities, and then click New.
  2. In the Type your name box, type a name for the identity.
  3. If you want to set a password for your identity, click to select the Require a password check box, type a password in the New Password and Confirm New Password boxes, and then click OK.
  4. Click OK. If you want to switch to the new identity now, click Yes. Otherwise, click No, and then click Close.
When you create a new identity, a new entry is created in the registry, and a new folder is created on the hard disk for that identity's message store.

Identity information is stored in the following registry key
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\account_ID
where account_ID is the full path to the folder where the message store is located. The default location of the message store for Windows 2000 is in the C:\Document and Settings\Username\Application Data\Identities\account_ID folder. The default location of the message store for Windows 98 is in the C:Windows\Application Data\Identities\account_ID folder.

NOTE: If user profiles are enabled, the location of the message store is in the Windows\Profiles\user_name\Application Data\Identities\account_ID folder, where user_name is the name you use to log on to Windows, and account_ID is the full path to the folder where the message store is located.

Switching Between Identities

To switch to a different identity when Outlook Express is already running:
  1. On the File menu, click Switch Identity.
  2. Click the identity that you want to switch to. If you set a password for the identity, type the password in the Password box.
  3. Click OK. When you do so, Outlook Express automatically quits and restarts by using the identity you selected.
NOTE: When you switch identities while you are sending and receiving messages, Outlook Express 5.5 may quit unexpectedly. For more information about this issue, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
271741 OLEXP: Outlook Express 5.5 quits when you switch identities
In addition, when you switch identities, Outlook Express 5.5 may stop responding (hang). For more information about this issue, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
274017 OLEXP: Shared Windows address book does not display contacts
To switch to a different identity when Outlook Express is not already running, start Outlook Express, and then click the identity that you want to switch to when you are prompted to do so.

NOTE: If you do not log off from your current identity before you quit Outlook Express, you may not be able to log on by using a different identity. In addition, other people may be able to start Outlook Express by using your identity, even if you set a password for your identity. To work around this issue, log off from the current identity before you quit Outlook Express.

To log off from the current identity:
  1. On the File menu, click Switch Identity.
  2. Verify that the current identity is selected, click Log Off Identity, and then click Yes.
After you perform these steps, the next time that you start Outlook Express you are prompted to select an identity.

Changing the Default Identity

To change the default identity:
  1. Start Identity Manager using one of the following methods:
    • On the File menu, point to Identities, and then click Manage Identities.
    • On the File menu, click Switch Identity, and then click Manage Identities.
  2. In Outlook Express 5.x, click the identity that you want to use as the default identity, click Make Default, and then click Close. In Outlook Express 6.0, click to select the Use this identity when starting a program check box, choose the identity that you want to use in the box, and then click OK.
If the default identity is successfully changed, "default" is displayed next to the new default identity.

Setting a Password

To set a password for an existing identity:
  1. Start Identity Manager.
  2. Click the identity that you want to set a password for, and then click Properties.
  3. Click to select the Require a password check box, type a password in the New Password and Confirm New Password boxes, and then click OK.
  4. Click OK, and then click Close.

Managing Contacts

The Address Book provides a convenient place to store contact information for easy retrieval by programs such as Outlook Express. In the Address Book, you can keep contacts in your main folder or organize contacts into subfolders. If you have contacts that you want to share with other people who use Outlook Express on the same computer, you can move the contacts into the Shared Contacts folder, where other identities can view them when they use the Address Book.

To open the Address Book, click Address Book on the Tools menu.

In the Address Book, if you cannot see the folders on the left, click Folders and Groups on the View menu.

NOTE: If contacts in the Windows address book do not appear, the Windows address book may be configured to share contacts between the Windows address book and the Outlook address book. For more information about this issue, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
222068 OLEXP: Shared Windows address book does not display contacts

Creating Subfolders

To create a subfolder:
  1. In the Address Book, click New Folder on the File menu.
  2. Type a name for the folder in the Folder Name box, and then click OK.
A new folder is automatically created in the Address Book when you create an identity in Outlook Express.

Sharing Contacts

The two folders that automatically exist in the Address Book are the Main Identity's Contacts folder and the Shared Contacts folder, a folder that you can use to share contacts with other identities. Neither of these folders can be deleted, but folders for additional identities are created as new identities are created.

You can make a contact available to other identities by putting the contact in the Shared Contacts folder. You can either create a new contact in the Shared Contacts folder or move one of your existing contacts into the folder.

NOTE: If you move a contact to the Shared Contacts folder, the contact no longer exists in the original folder. You can make a copy of the contact information for your folder, but changes that you make there are not reflected in the Shared Contacts folder or vice versa.

Moving Contacts

To move contacts:
  1. In the Address Book, click the contact that you want to move.
  2. Drag the contact from the list on the right to the group or folder on the left that you want to move the contact to.
NOTE: When you drag a contact to a group, a copy of the contact remains in the original folder, but when you drag a contact to a folder, the contact is moved and the contact no longer exists in the original folder. In addition, subfolders cannot be moved within an identity's folder list.

REFERENCES
The Outlook Express Help is an excellent reference for detailed information about configuring and using identities. For more information about identities, click Contents and Index on the Help menu, click the Search tab, type identities in the Type in the keyword to find box, and then click List Topics to view all of the topics about identities.

For additional information about adding e-mail accounts:
  • Click Contents and Index on the Help menu, click the Search tab, type add mail account in the Type in the keyword to find box, and then click List Topics to view the "Add a mail or news account" topic.
  • Click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    171163 How to configure Outlook Express 6.0 for Internet mail
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Article ID: 209169 - Last Review: 05/07/2007 21:31:00 - Revision: 2.6

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