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Configuring, Customizing, and Troubleshooting Outlook Express

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This chapter is from the book

Terms you'll need to understand:

  • Outlook Express

  • Newsgroups

  • Address book

  • Email

  • Preview pane

  • Import

  • Export

Techniques you'll need to master:

  • Create and configure email and newsgroup accounts

  • Troubleshoot email and newsgroup accounts

  • Manage data in Outlook Express

  • Customize Outlook Express

  • Resolve issues related to customizing Outlook Express

Configuring and Troubleshooting Email and Newsgroup Accounts

Outlook Express is an email and newsgroup client that is installed along with Internet Explorer. Although Outlook Express is not actually a part of the Web browser, it integrates with the browser to extend Internet Explorer's functionality.

To effectively troubleshoot problems that can arise with Outlook Express, you should be familiar with performing some of the basic tasks that include setting up an email account and newsgroups. These topics are discussed in the following sections.

Configuring Email Accounts in Outlook Express

Outlook Express is a fully functional email client that seamlessly integrates with Internet Explorer. It provides many capabilities you would find with other email clients such as address book and data management. Outlook Express even integrates with Hotmail, so you can retrieve email from an ISP and Hotmail (if you have a Hotmail account).

Creating an Email Account

To send and receive email using Outlook Express, you must set up a new email account. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, and select Outlook Express.

  2. From the Tools menu, click Accounts. The Internet Accounts dialog box appears.

  3. Select the Mail tab, click the Add button, and click the Mail option. This action launches the Internet Connection Wizard.

  4. Type a display name. This name will appear on any outgoing messages. Click Next.

  5. Type your email address. The network administrator or your ISP provides this information when you sign up for an account. Click Next.

  6. Use the drop-down arrow to select the type of incoming mail server: POP3, IMAP, or HTTP. Then provide the names of the incoming and outgoing mail servers (see Figure 3.1). Click Next.

  7. Figure 3.1Figure 3.1 Configuring the names of email servers.

  8. Type the username and password for the account. Again, your ISP or network administrator provides this information. Click Next.

  9. Click Finish to close the Internet Connection Wizard.

Configuring Email Account Properties

After you have created an email account, you can edit the properties at any time through Outlook Express. For example, you can change the display name that will appear in the From box on all your outgoing messages.

To edit the properties of an existing email account, follow these steps:

  1. Within Outlook Express, click Tools and select the Account option.

  2. From the Internet Accounts window, select the Mail tab.

  3. Highlight the email account you want to configure and click the Properties button.

  4. The properties window for the email account appears (see Figure 3.2).


Be sure you are familiar with different tabs and settings available for configuring an email account. When troubleshooting email problems, you first should verify that these settings are correctly configured. Be prepared to encounter exam questions pertaining to this topic.

From the General tab shown in Figure 3.2, you can change some basic account information. Under Mail Account, you can type a descriptive name for the account. You can also configure your name and organization. The name will appear in the From box on all your outgoing messages. You can also edit the email address and reply address. If you want users to reply to an email address other than the one from which you send, you can type the appropriate email address in the Reply Address box. If you want Outlook Express to check for new messages for the email account when sending and receiving, click the Include This Account When Receiving Mail or Synchronizing option at the bottom of the window.

Figure 3.2Figure 3.2 Open the properties window for an email account.

Using the Servers tab, shown in Figure 3.3, you can configure the name of the mail servers and authentication information. Under Server Information, specify the protocol used for your incoming mail server as well as the names of your incoming and outgoing mail servers.

To receive mail, you must be authenticated. Under Incoming Mail Server, type the user account name and password for the email account. Select the Remember Password option to have Outlook Express remember the password. If this option is not selected, you are prompted to provide the password when Outlook Express checks for new email. If your outgoing mail server requires authentication, select the My Server Requires Authentication option and click the Settings button. In the resulting dialog box, shown in Figure 3.4, you have the option of using the same credentials used for the incoming mail server, or you can specify unique credentials.

Figure 3.3Figure 3.3 Using the Servers tab from an email account's properties window.

Figure 3.4Figure 3.4 Configuring credentials for an outgoing mail server.

Using the Connections tab, shown in Figure 3.5, you can configure how Outlook Express connects to the Internet. If you do not select the Always Connect to This Account Using option, Outlook Express connects to the Internet using the settings configured in Internet Explorer. Conversely, you can override the settings in Internet Explorer and specify the dial-up or LAN connection Outlook Express should use to connect to the Internet.

Digital certificates verify that you are who you say you are. If you have been assigned a digital certificate, you can use it to digitally sign all your outgoing messages. You can configure the signing certificate and encrypting preferences for an email account using the Security tab, as shown in Figure 3.6.

Figure 3.5Figure 3.5  Configuring how Outlook Express connects to the Internet.

Figure 3.6Figure 3.6  Configuring security settings for an email account.

The Advanced tab provides a number of other settings that you can configure for an email account. These settings are outlined in Table 3.1.

Table 3.1 Advanced Email Account Settings



Outgoing Mail (SMTP)

Specifies the port to connect to for the outgoing mail server. The default value is port 25.

This Server Requires a Secure SSL Connection

Specifies whether to use the Secure Sockets Layer protocol. This option can be enabled for outgoing and/or incoming mail servers.

Incoming Mail (POP3)

Specifies the port to connect to for incoming mail. The default value is port 110.

Server Timeouts

Specifies how long to wait for a response from a mail server before stopping an attempt to send or receive mail.

Break Apart Messages Larger Than

Specifies that messages larger than the value identified here are broken into smaller messages. This option is available because some older mail servers are unable to handle messages larger than 64KB.

Leave Copy Messages on Server

Specifies that a copy of all received messages are left on the mail servers.

Remove from Server After

Specifies when messages stored on the incoming mail server should be deleted.

Remove from Server When Deleted from "Deleted Items"

Specifies that messages deleted from the Deleted Items folder are also deleted from the mail server.

Troubleshooting Email Accounts

One of the most common problems users encounter when using Outlook Express is the inability to send or receive email messages. Often this is related to problems with Internet connectivity (refer to Chapter 7, "Configuring and Troubleshooting Network Connectivity," for tips on verifying Internet connectivity). If Internet connectivity is not the root of the problem, a good starting point for troubleshooting the problem is to identify the error message. This message usually gives you a good indication as to what the problem is.

If a user is able to connect to her Internet service provider (ISP) or has a LAN connection but is unable to send or receive email, verify that all the information is correct within the email account properties window. The settings configured here should match those of the ISP or local mail servers.

If a user reports that a timeout message appears when downloading email messages, try increasing the server timeout value using the Advanced tab from the account properties window (refer to Table 3.1).


If a user is unable to send and receive email, there is a good chance that a setting for the email account does not match those of the ISP. This is one of the first issues you should verify when troubleshooting such a problem.

Accessing Newsgroups Using Outlook Express

Another feature of Outlook Express is its capability to function as a newsreader. A newsreader is required to access newsgroups.

Newsgroups provide a means for people to exchange news, share information, and voice opinions. Individual newsgroups are normally dedicated to a specific topic and used by people with common interests. They serve as a type of message board where someone can post a comment or opinion (depending on the purpose of the newsgroup) that can be read by anyone else who accesses the newsgroup.

Accessing Newsgroups Through Outlook Express

Newsgroups are hosted on a server, so the first step in setting up Outlook Express is to add a newsgroup server. Your network administrator or ISP provides the name of the newsgroup server.

Follow the steps outlined here to add a newsgroup server in Outlook Express:

  1. Select Tools and click the Accounts option.

  2. From the Internet Accounts dialog box, click the News tab.

  3. Click the Add button and select News.

  4. Type your name and click Next. This name will appear when you post messages to a newsgroup.

  5. Type your email address and click Next.

  6. Enter the name of the news server supplied by your ISP or network administrator. If the news server requires credentials, select the My News Server Requires Me to Log On option. Click Next.

  7. Type the user account name and password that will be used to access the news server. Click Next.

  8. Click Finish.

A news server provides various newsgroups that you can subscribe to. After you have completed the preceding steps, you can view a list of newsgroups available on your news server and subscribe to the ones that interest you by following these steps:

  1. Within Outlook Express, select the news server you have added under the folder list. A window appears informing you that you have not subscribed to any newsgroups. Click Yes to subscribe now.

  2. The Newsgroups Subscriptions dialog box appears and displays all the newsgroups available on the news server. Select a newsgroup of interest and click the Subscribe button.

  3. Repeat step 2 for any additional newsgroups you want to subscribe to. The newsgroups you subscribed to are displayed in Outlook Express.

  4. To read the messages posted to a newsgroup, click the name of the newsgroup. The messages are displayed in the right pane.

Troubleshooting Newsgroups

Most problems with newsgroups are related to users not being able to connect to a news server or not being able to view any newsgroups. You can use the following points to assist in troubleshooting newsgroup-related issues:

  • Verify that the user can connect to his ISP.

  • If a user can connect to her ISP but cannot view any newsgroups, verify the settings for the news account. The settings configured should match those of the ISP.

  • Using the Server tab from the news account properties window, verify that the correct news server name has been specified. If the user must log on to the news server, ensure that the correct username and password are being used.

  • Verify that the correct port number has been specified. Most news servers use port 119.

  • If the connection times out, increase the server timeout value on the Advanced tab for the news account.

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