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Resolve Issues Related to Customizing Outlook Express

Like most other programs, Outlook Express can be customized to meet a user's specific needs. Support personnel should be familiar with the different options available for customizing Outlook Express. Knowing what the different settings are used for helps in determining the cause and solution to a problem related to customization.

Customizing the View of Outlook Express

If you do not like the layout of Outlook Express, you can alter it to meet your preferences. For example, if you do not want your list of contacts to appear on the bottom-left side in Outlook Express, you can configure it not to do so.

To customize the view of Outlook Express, click View and select the Layout option. You receive the Window Layout Properties dialog box (see Figure 3.7). Here, you can select the different components you want to have visible within the Outlook Express interface.

Figure 3.7Figure 3.7 Customizing the view within Outlook Express.

If you want to be able to view the contents of email messages without having to open them in a separate window, you can enable the preview pane.

Customizing Outlook Express Options

Outlook Express offers numerous options that you can use to customize the email program. From a troubleshooting perspective, you need to be familiar with the various options to be able to solve Outlook Express–related issues.


Be sure you are familiar with the different settings available for customizing Outlook Express. One of the best ways to do this is to open Outlook Express and click through the various tabs.

Sending and Receiving Messages

To access the Outlook Express options, click the Tools menu and select Options. You receive the Options dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.8. From the General tab, you can configure how Outlook Express will send and receive messages. Following are some of the options:

  • Play Sound When New Messages Arrive—Outlook Express plays a sound when a new message is received.

  • Send and Receive Messages at Startup—Outlook automatically checks for new messages and sends any messages in your Outbox each time it is started.

  • Check for New Messages Every—Outlook Express checks for new messages at the interval you specify. If you are not connected to the Internet when Outlook Express attempts to check for new messages, you can remain offline or have Outlook Express establish an Internet connection.

Maintaining Outlook Express

By default, Outlook Express stores a user's personal message store on the local computer within his profile. Outlook Express allows you to change this location. For example, if you want users' personal message stores to be stored on a server where they can be backed up regularly, you can change the location. To do so, click the Tools menu and select Option. Select the Maintenance tab and click the Store Folder button (see Figure 3.9). In the window that appears, you can type the new path indicating where the email should be stored.

Figure 3.8Figure 3.8  Configuring Outlook Express options.

Figure 3.9Figure 3.9 Changing the location of the message store.

As you can see in Figure 3.9, several other options are available for maintaining Outlook Express. Table 3.2 outlines the various settings.

Table 3.2 Outlook Express Maintenance Settings



Empty Messages from Deleted Items Folder on Exit

If this option is selected, Outlook Express automatically deletes all messages in the Deleted Items folder when the program is closed. Otherwise, messages in the Deleted Items folder must be manually deleted.

Purge Deleted Messages When Leaving IMAP Folders

Outlook Express deletes IMAP messages marked for deletion when you leave an IMAP folder.

Compact Messages in the Background

Messages are compacted in the background, but you can still work within Outlook Express.

Delete Read Message Bodies in Newsgroups

Outlook Express deletes newsgroup messages that have been read upon exit.

Delete News Messages X Days After Being Downloaded

All newsgroup messages are deleted after they have been on your computer for the specified number of days.

Compact Messages When There Is X Percent Wasted Space

Storage files are compacted when the percentage of wasted space reaches the value specified.

Clean Up Now

Messages stored on your computer are cleaned up.


You can use the Maintenance tab from the Outlook Express Options dialog box to enable logging. Outlook Express saves all commands to and from a mail server into a log file that can be used for troubleshooting.

Configuring File Attachment Security

Most viruses these days are spread through email attachments. Because it is difficult for users to know attachments may contain a virus, they often open them mistakenly. Outlook Express 6 allows you to control the file attachments that users are allowed to open.


Although Outlook Express 6 provides a way of blocking certain attachments from being opened, this feature is not a substitute for running antivirus software.

To configure file attachment security in Outlook Express, click the Tools menu and select Options. From the Security tab, shown in Figure 3.10, select the Do Not Allow Attachments to Be Saved or Opened That Could Potentially Be a Virus option.

Figure 3.10Figure 3.10 Configuring file attachment security.

Although selecting this option does increase security, it may restrict more file types than you want. Using the Folder Options applet (discussed in Chapter 1, "Configuring, Customizing, and Troubleshooting the Operating System"), you can select which individual file types can be opened. To turn off this restriction for specific file types, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start and select Control Panel.

  2. Within the Control Panel, open the Folder Options applet.

  3. Select the File Types tab. Highlight the file type for which you want to remove the restriction and click the Advanced button.

  4. Uncheck the Confirm After Download option. Click OK.

As you can see in Figure 3.10, several other security settings can be configured. For increased security, consider setting the security zone to Restricted. Also, select the Warn Me When Other Applications Try to Send Mail as Me option. This setting can help prevent programs, mainly viruses, from accessing your address book and sending email to your contacts.

Using Signatures

Outlook Express can be configured to add a signature to all outgoing messages. You can do so using the Signatures tab, shown in Figure 3.11.

Figure 3.11Figure 3.11 Adding signatures to outgoing messages.

To create a new signature, click the New button and rename the title of the signature to something more descriptive, making the signature more identifiable. Edit the text to display the information you want added to all outgoing messages. Select the Add Signatures to Outgoing Messages option. If you do not want your signature added to reply or forwarded messages, clear the box beside the option Don't Add Signatures to Replies and Forwards. Click OK.

Working with Identities

Often in a workplace or a home office, more than one user shares a single computer. Chances are each user will want to customize various programs, such as Outlook Express, to meet her own personal needs and preferences.

Using the Identities feature in Outlook Express, multiple users can share a single computer while maintaining their own email separately.

To create a new identity within Outlook Express, follow these steps:

  1. Select the File menu, point to Identities, and click Add New Identity.

  2. Type the name of the user.

  3. Select the Require a Password option and create a password. This step is optional; however, it increases security.

  4. Click OK. A window appears asking whether you want to switch to the new identity. If you click Yes, you are prompted to set up Outlook Express for the new user. If you answer No, you are returned to the Outlook Express interface.


You can quickly switch between identities in Outlook Express by selecting the Switch Identities option from the File menu.

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