The Windows Address Book (WAB) is activated by the executable file wab.exe in the
Outlook Express Program Files folder. All WAB files are associated with this
application. That means you can create as many WAB files as you want, and launch them
by double-clicking, just like any other associated file type. More than one WAB can
be open at the same time, but only one WAB can be the active, default Address Book at
any one time. This is the WAB that all the Address Book functions in Outlook Express
use, such as clicking the To: button, checking names, etc. The path to the default
WAB is stored in the registry in a single key. That means you can use saved *.reg
files to change the value in the registry at will, and that means you can switch to a
different Address Book at will.
To start making WAB's, first make a folder to hold them, named perhaps Address Books. Inside the folder, create a shortcut named New Address Book using the following command line (change the path if you installed OE elsewhere):
"C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\wab.exe" /new
Before you attempt to change the existing registry key, be sure to open Regedit, navigate to this key, then click Registry| Export Registry File, and save the selected branch as "Default Address Book.reg".
To switch the registry value for the current default WAB, you just need to make plain text files, saved with the extension .reg. Double-clicking a REG file will load the new value into the registry, and cause future calls to wab.exe to point to the swapped WAB. The full content of each REG file must follow this form:
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\WAB\WAB4\Wab File Name]
@="C:\\WINDOWS\\Application Data\\Microsoft\\Address Book\\Tom.wab"
You can create as many WAB's and REGs as you like. Just remember to use double \\ in the path, rather than the single \.
I keep a folder of address books, along with the *.reg files that swap to them. I then add shortcuts to the WAB's and the REG's in a folder called "Messaging". A few "mailto" shortcuts to friends, some OE template files, and I've got a very convenient toolbar.
To make "mailto" shortcuts, use this command line when you create a new shortcut:
To create a template file, start a new message, fill in whatever you want, then click File| Save as... and save the message as type *.eml (for email) or *.nws (for news).