Using Outlook Express?

Note: If you are still using Outlook Express, maybe you should consider getting another email program. Outlook Express is not being updated and is starting to show signs of age. See what AskLeo says about Outlook Express.

What a lot of folks fail to realize, Outlook Express requires regular maintenance to keep working without problems.

Without performing routine maintenance, Outlook Express may just choke and refuse to work. Here are some tips to keep Outlook Express working well.

1. Don't let the Inbox get too big. If the Inbox gets too big, Outlook Express may not open and the only way to fix it is to delete the Inbox, thus losing all messages located there.

2. To prevent the Inbox from getting so big, set up rules to filter messages into separate folders.

3. Delete messages you don't need or want to keep.

4. Delete the messages in the Sent folder once a month, more often if you send a lot of messages or if the sent messages contain photos, videos, etc. If you need to keep a Sent message for any reason, make a new folder and name it Messages Sent and move the message to this folder. You can name it anything you like, but name it something relevant.

5. Delete all the messages in the Deleted folder once a month or more often if you delete a lot of messages or if they contain photos, videos, etc. (Do NOT store messages in the Deleted folder. While this may seem like a no-brainer, the warning comes from experiences with users who did just that!) Go to Tools/Options and click the Maintenance tab. Now click the Clean Up Now button, and when the next window opens, click Compact. (All those deleted emails are still hiding in Outlook Express, compacting will remove them for good!) EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Do NOT close Outlook Express until the compact process is completed!

6. You should always keep Windows updated. Updates, especially SP2, frequently fix problems with Outlook Express.

7. Outlook Express has a size limit. (2 gig) If someone sends you photos, videos, etc. that you want to keep, store them in folders in My Documents, not Outlook Express. Photos, videos, mp3 files, etc. can increase the size of Outlook Express faster than most folks realize. You can also copy emails to separate folders in My Documents. Just create a new folder in My Documents and put a shortcut to the folder on your Desktop, then drag any message in Outlook Express and drop it on the shortcut for the new folder. This is very useful for backup purposes. Once you click on one of those messages it will open again in Outlook Express.

8. My favorite tip for Outlook Express is to move the Store folder to a location other than the default location. Microsoft put the default location in a place that makes it hard to find for a lot of folks. The default path looks something like this in Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\Owner\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities. Your location may be slightly different, but the general path will be very similar.

To make it easier to find (and a LOT easier to back up!), first make a new folder in My Documents. Name the folder something you will remember, like My Outlook Express or My Email. In Outlook Express, click on Tools and select Options. When the Options window opens, click the Maintenance tab. Click the Store folder button, click Change and browse to the new folder you just created and select it. Close Outlook Express and re-open Outlook Express. Check the new folder to make sure all of the files are now in the folder. Now all of your email is located in My Documents and you can copy the email folder to external media to safeguard your email.

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