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This chapter is from the book

Managing Data in Outlook Express

As a desktop support technician, you need to know not only how to set up Outlook Express, but also how to perform various tasks within the program. At some point, you will more than likely receive calls from end users requesting your assistance on performing a task.

Importing and Exporting Mail

Outlook Express allows you to import and export mail messages to and from other email programs such as Microsoft Outlook.

To export mail messages, click File, point to Export, and select Messages. In the Choose Profile dialog box, select the program you want to export your mail messages to (for example, Microsoft Outlook). From the Export Messages dialog box, select the folders you want to export and click OK.

To import mail messages, click File, point to Import, and select Messages. Select the email program you want to import your messages from and click Next. Select the folders you want to import into Outlook Express and click Next. Then click Finish.

Managing Email Messages

If you receive a high volume of email messages, you may want to change the way Outlook Express processes them. For example, you may want messages from a specific person to be sorted and placed into a specific folder or highlighted in a different color.

By creating rules in Outlook Express, as shown in the following steps, you can change how incoming mail messages are processed:

  1. Within Outlook Express, click the Tools menu option, point to Message Rules, and click Mail.

  2. Select one or more conditions for the rule. For example, if you select Where the From Line Contains People, the mail message must be from a specific person before any processing actions are performed (see Figure 3.12).

  3. Figure 3.12Figure 3.12 Configuring rule conditions.

  4. After you have specified the conditions, you must edit the value for each condition by selecting the hyperlink under Rule Description.

  5. Specify the actions for the rule. Outlook Express will take these actions if a mail message meets all the conditions.

  6. Edit the values for the actions by selecting the hyperlink under Rule Description. For example, if you select the rule Move It to the Specified Folder, you then have to edit the value of the rule and tell Outlook Express which particular folder mail should be placed in.

  7. Type a descriptive name for the rule.

  8. Click OK.

Managing Address Books

Most email programs allow you to configure and maintain an address book. This feature is similar to a traditional paper-based address book where you store the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your contacts. Using the address book included with Outlook Express, you can store the following information about a person or contact:

  • Name of the contact

  • Email address

  • Physical address

  • Business-related information

  • Personal-related information

  • NetMeeting details

  • Digital ID information

Users often rely heavily on the contents of their address books for sending email because the address books contain the email addresses of their contacts. Outlook Express allows you to import and export address book contacts. For example, if a user has address book contacts from another email program, you can import the contacts into Outlook Express instead of re-creating all the entries. Conversely, you can also export a user's address book from Outlook Express for use within another email program.

To import an address book, follow these steps:

  1. From within Outlook Express, click the File menu, point to Import, and click Address book.

  2. Browse to the location of the address book (.wab) and then click Open.


If you are importing an address book that is stored in another format, such as .csv, click the File menu, point to Import, and select Other Address Book.

As already mentioned, Outlook Express also allows you to export an address book—for example, if you want to use your existing contacts and information within another email program. You can export an address book by clicking the File menu within Outlook Express, pointing to Export, and clicking the Address Book option. Select an export format for the address book and click Export.

Compacting Folders in Outlook Express

Outlook Express stores messages as entries within a database. Over time, these databases can grow in size and, as a result, degrade performance and consume a large amount of disk space. The reason is that when a message is deleted within Outlook Express, even if it is removed from your Deleted Items folder and out of your view, it still consumes disk space. So, over time, all the hidden records, which you thought were deleted, slow down performance and take up disk space.

Outlook Express allows you to compact your folders, which essentially removes all the records that have been marked for deletion from your computer. Compacting should improve performance and free up disk space.

By default, Outlook Express is configured to compact folders automatically during periods of inactivity. You can turn off this feature using the Maintenance tab from the Options dialog box. However, should you choose to disable this feature, you should manually compact your folders once a month. You can do so by selecting the Clean Up Now button located on the Maintenance tab and clicking Compact from the Local File Clean Up dialog box.


If you receive the Cannot compact, folder is in use error message, close down Outlook Express. Then reopen the application and try running the Compact feature again.

Blocking Senders

Many users receive unwanted email in their Inboxes. Outlook Express allows you to control the senders from whom you receive email. For example, if you continually receive spam email from a specific email address, you can block the sender. After a sender is blocked, you will no longer receive email from that sender in your Inbox.

To block a sender, highlight an unwanted message within your Inbox, click the Message menu, and select the Block Sender option. A message appears informing you that the sender is blocked. Click Yes to confirm this action.

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