Inside Outlook Express

Errors, Bugs and Problems

Common Problems

Hyperlinks in messages stop working

If clicking a hyperlink in Outlook Express appears to do nothing at all, there are likely one or more registered file associations that are configured incorrectly. To repair the associations:

  1. Open My Computer and click Folder Options on the Tools menu.
  2. Click the File Types tab.
  3. Select URL:Hypertext Transfer Protocol in the list of registered file types.
  4. Click the Advanced button (Windows XP), or the Edit button (other versions).
  5. In the list of Actions, select open and then click the Edit button.
  6. The Application used to perform action box should contain this, including quotation marks:
    “C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe” -nohome
    If instead it contains a short name version of that path, or an incorrect path, change it to the above.
  7. Click OK, click OK.
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 for the file type URL:Hypertext Transfer Protocol with Privacy.
  9. Click OK to close the Folder Options window.

For more detail see Internet shortcuts in Outlook Express do not start Web browser.

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Messages in Inbox or other mail folders disappear

First check the obvious. Click View | Current View and be sure it is set to "Show All Messages". Also verify that "Show replies to my messages" is not checked or you will see only replies to your messages.

If the Current View setting is correct, then the *.dbx file for the problem folder has been damaged or deleted. Older versions of McAfee VirusScan are known to delete OE's *.dbx files if the email or Internet download scan is enabled. You can download a patch on the McAfee web site, or simply disable both the email and Internet download scan modules in VirusScan. These are not necessary to protect your computer if you still have VirusScan running in the background and scanning executable files as they are opened. In fact, the only real reason to use email and download scanning is to make you feel more secure. If this is the cause of your problem, I am sorry to say your messages are irretrievably lost.

In the case of a damaged "Inbox.dbx" file, a new Inbox with the default "Welcome to OE" message will have been created automatically, and will now be using the file  "Inbox(1).dbx" or similar. Likewise a new *.dbx file will have been created for any of the "system" folders that are damaged, Drafts, Deleted Items, Outbox and Sent Items. If your default email account is Hotmail or IMAP, the associated files will be named like "Hotmail - Inbox.dbx" or "<IMAP account name> - Inbox.dbx", etc. However the original *.dbx file will still be there, although OE will be unable to display it.

If the damaged *.dbx file still exists, or its temporary version *.dbt, move it to a new empty folder in Windows Explorer. You can then try DBXtract or Macallan Outlook Express Extraction to extract what messages it can.

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Messages in newsgroups disappear

First check the obvious. Click View | Current View and be sure it is set to "Show All Messages". Also verify that "Show replies to my messages" is not checked or you will see only replies to your messages.

Check also under Tools | Options | Maintenance to see if OE is configured to "delete news messages after xx days". That feature only works if "compact messages in the background" is enabled (as it is by default). That feature however is not without problems, and so I do not recommend using it.

By far the most usual cause of newsgroup messages disappearing is that OE automatically removes any message in your local store that has been removed from the news server. Many news servers delete messages after only 2 or 3 days, although some, like the MSnews server, keep messages for up to 90 days. There is no way to change this behavior, but there is a workaround. To save news messages past their expiration just copy them to a mail folder. Once in the mail folder, you can still read them in thead-view by clicking View | Current View | Group messages by conversation. This setting is independent of the same setting in newsgroups, so you can have thread-view in mail but not in news, in news but not in mail, or both.

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Same mail messages continue to be downloaded from POP3 account

If your POP3 mail account is configured to "leave a copy of messages on the server" under Tools | Accounts | <account> | Properties | Advanced, it sometimes happens that OE downloads the same messages each time you send and receive. This is caused by a damaged "Pop3uidl.dbx" file in your Identity's store folder. This file keeps track of which messages on the server have already been downloaded and should therefore be skipped on subsequent downloads. To fix the problem, simply delete the "Pop3uidl.dbx" file. The next time you check for mail, all the messages on the server will be downloaded again, but a new "Pop3uidl.dbx" will be created that should work properly on subsequent mail checks.

If you are seeing duplicate messages on a Hotmail or IMAP account, this solution will not work because those types of accounts do not use the "Pop3uidl.dbx" file. However there is a simple solution for both Hotmail and IMAP.

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OE keeps trying to send a message but the Outbox appears to be empty

First check the obvious. While viewing the Outbox, click View | Current View and be sure it is set to "Show All Messages". Also verify that "Show replies to my messages" is not checked. If you then see the unsent message you can delete it normally. You should then click File | Folder | Compact.

If the Current View setting is correct, then the "Outbox.dbx" file has been damaged. This can be caused by antivirus programs scanning outgoing email. This scan is not necessary to protect your computer if you still have antivirus system scan running in the background, so disable all email scanning to prevent future damage.  To repair the Outbox, close Outlook Express and delete "Outbox.dbx" in your store folder. A new Outbox will be created automatically when you re-open Outlook Express.

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Toolbar buttons are distorted or black

This is caused by outdated video drivers. Check the web site of the manufacturer of your video card or computer for newer versions. This seems to be particularly common for ATI video cards, so check for drivers at the ATI site. You might get temporary relieve by changing the button size under View| Layout| Customize Toolbar (or right-click on the toolbar and click Customize), Icon Options.

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Image preview stops working

This is probably due to some minor corruption in the registry. Download this small registry file to your desktop and then double-click it to repair the image files keys needed for preview to function properly.

Imagefix.reg (click to view, or right-click| Save Target As to download)

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Toolbars disappear from Message Composition windows or the main OE window

This is caused by corruption in the registry keys for your Identity. You can create a new Identity and the Message Window toolbars should appear normally. You can then import your previous Identity's message store. You might also be able to repair the corrupt Identity by resetting the default toolbar values in the registry. First make a note of the Identity's GUID, the unique number given in the registry under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities (more info). (Strong hint:  In Regedit, right-click on the GUID key and click Rename. Press Ctrl-C to copy the name to the clipboard, then press ESC. Do NOT rename the key!) Now click the right-click on the link below and select "Save Target as.." to download the file and save it to your Windows desktop. click to view, or right-click| Save Target As to download


Open the saved file in Notepad and change the GUID in the second line to the GUID of your Identity. If you copied the name as suggested, simply highlight "GUID" and press Ctrl-V to paste. Save the file, then rename the file on the desktop to "OEtoolbarfix.reg". Double-click the *.reg file and answer yes to merge the data into the registry. Your Identity should now have the default toolbars in all Message Composition windows.

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