Inside Outlook Express

Tools for OE Users

These are the 3rd party tools and utilities that I find useful. Everyone has his or her own list, and I certainly have no intention of "converting" anyone to use these tools. They just help me get through the day, so I thought I would share them.

Essential OE Tools

OE-QuoteFix, better formatting in replies

Macallan Outlook Express Extraction, extract messages from OE *.dbx files

DBXtract, extract messages from OE *.dbx files

OE Quick Backup, a free utility to back up all OE files and settings

OE Tool, adds useful buttons to the OE toolbars to toggle view settings

OE Identity Identifier, determine the GUID and store location for all OE Identities

Protected Storage Passwords Viewer, view and delete all passwords stored in Protected Storage Service


Useful Scripts for Outlook Express

Other Tools

Essential OE Tools

These tools are what I consider to be "must haves" for all OE users. All are freeware except DBXtract.


A major weakness in OE is the way it handles (or mishandles) original text that is quoted in a reply. The problem is readily apparent in any newsgroup message which includes several levels of quoting. OE-QuoteFix is a freeware utility that greatly improves OE's quoting. Not only does it ensure that your replies will have properly formatted text, it also allows you to color code each level of replies in a message. It also corrects the "design decision" that prevents OE from properly formatting quoted text that was sent as MIME/Quoted Printable. It is totally free, but don't hesitate to make a donation to show your support.

OE-QuoteFix Home Page

If you need even more control of message formatting, see MessageCleaner below.

Warning for WinXP Service Pack 2 users!

OE-QuoteFix uses external files to color quoted material and to replace emoticons with icons. After installing WinXP SP2, OE is configured by default to block automatic downloads of external content. That means the coloring and icons features in OE-QuoteFix will not work. If you wish to use these features, you must disable the block in OE under Tools| Options| Security.

Furthermore, SP2 makes changes in OE's Read all messages in plain text feature. Instead of using an IE control, it now uses the RichEdit control. OE-QuoteFix will not function at all if you enable the plain text feature in OE under Tools| Options| Read.

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Macallan Outlook Express Extraction

This freeware application can extract messages or attachments from OE *.dbx files. It can also be used to recover messages from a damaged *.dbx or *.dbt file. Messages are extracted as individual  *.eml files in a Windows folder. After extraction, you can simply drag the  *.eml files into an Outlook Express mail folder in the OE Folder list. There is also a DOS version available which can be run from a command prompt. And the price cannot be beat!

Macallan Personal Page (MidiGlass, Outlook Express Extraction and Macallan Mail Solution)

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You tell it which *.dbx file you wish to use and DBXtract proceeds to extract every message in the file and store them as separate *.eml files in a Windows folder. It often succeeds in extracting files from a damaged *.dbx that even OE cannot read. You might never need this, but if you do, you will join the hundreds (of thousands?) whose email was saved by DBXtract. You can download it from the author, MVP Steve Cochran. The cost is only US $5.00, payable via PayPal. That is indeed a small price to pay for such an invaluable tool.

DBXtract Home Page

There is also the companion MBXtract for extracting mail messages from OE4 files, and the much more powerful DBXtend.

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OE Quick Backup

This is a free backup utility from MVP David 'Majik' Guess. It allows you to back up mail folders, newsgroup folders, account settings, view settings, address book, in fact, everything. Or you can do selective backups of only those parts of OE you consider essential. I'm happy to say that it makes my Clone Backup procedure entirely unnecessary.

OE Quick Backup Home Page

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OE Tool

This very tiny program (18Kbytes) adds a new toolbar to the OE Views Bar, comprising  a set of toggle buttons to change some OE options with a single click: Read Message as Plain Text (IE6SP1/WinXPSP1 and later), Show Replies to My Messages (news), Group Messages by Conversation (news), View Message Source, Switch Identities, run OE Backup, DBXtract and/or DBXtend (if installed), even Delete Temporary Internet Files. Note that none of these settings are new but none of them have been available with a single click until now. No more drilling down into OE's Options screen to turn off Plain Text view for that single message (although you can now do that in SP2 by pressing Alt-Shift-H), and no more clicking View | Current View just to turn off threading (Group by conversation). This is a great addition to OE.

OE Tool Home Page

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OE Identity Identifier

This is a very simple VB6 program written by MVP David 'Majik' Guess and distributed by MVP Steve Cochran. It simply shows you all Identities stored in the registry, along with the GUID (Global Unique IDentifier) and the location of the message store folder for each Identity. This can be very useful in the case of registry damage that prevents OE from starting.

OE Identity Identifier home page

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Protected Storage Passwords Viewer:

This freeware tool allows you to see all of your passwords that are stored in the Windows Protected Storage Service. It also allows you to delete selected passwords, a very handy way to reset an OE account that is damaged without losing all your passwords.

Warning! False Alert Problems: Some Antivirus programs detect Protected Storage PassView utility as infected with Trojan/Virus. Norton Antivirus detects Protected Storage Passview as a hacking tool.

Protected Storage PassView hompepage


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Useful Scripts for Outlook Express

All of the scripts here were written or adapted by me. All of them have been tested and work as expected on my computer. But some of them might require a little tweaking to work on your computer. Where this might be necessary I have included instructions in the script itself. Since scripts are simple text files, you can read them in Notepad before running them. And that is exactly what you should do in every case.

Scripts are very powerful, and can therefore be very dangerous. If you aren't sure what a script does or are uncertain of the source of the script, just do not open it. It is always safe however to open the script in Notepad, and as easy as right-click on the script and click Edit.

Change the location of the Address Book

The default location for the Address Book used by OE is not to everyone's liking. This script allows you to change the location to your preference without having to navigate in Regedit.

' You MUST edit the next line before using the script!

wabpath = "C:\My Documents\Work.wab"


"HKCU\Software\Microsoft\WAB\WAB4\Wab File Name\", wabpath

MsgBox "The default Address Book has been changed to" &vbCR & wabpath, 4096, "Confirmation"

WSHShell.Run "wab.exe"

Set WSHShell = Nothing


Download Change_wab_path.vbs

Warning!  You must edit this file in Notepad before you use it.

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Force the Identity Logon prompt to start OE

This script is discussed more fully in the Tips section.

Download idforoe.vbs

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Synchronize All when OE starts

This script launches Outlook Express and then synchronizes all mail and news accounts.

Set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")

Dim taskID

taskID = "* - Outlook Express"

WshShell.Run "c:\progra~1\outloo~1\msimn.exe", 9

WScript.Sleep 800

WshShell.AppActivate taskID

WScript.Sleep 1000

WshShell.SendKeys "%TZ" 'sends Alt-T-Z for Tools| Synchronize All

WScript.Sleep 1000

WshShell.SendKeys "%H" 'sends Alt-H to Hide spooler window

'WshShell.AppActivate taskID

Set WSHShell = Nothing

To use this script, you must configure OE not to check for new messages when starting. To do that, click Tools, then click Options, then clear the checkbox for 'Send and receive messages at startup'. If you do not do this, the script will not work.

If the script does not work properly, you probably need to adjust the sleep values a bit higher. To do that, open the file in Notepad and type higher numbers.

Download synchronize_all.vbs

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Open the OE store folder in Windows Explorer

This script opens the store folder for the last Identity to use Outlook Express. If you have cleared the registry of the "Last User ID", this script will not work.

MsgBox "Please be sure Outlook Express is closed before you make any changes to the files in the store folder."

Set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")

OE_ID = "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\Last User ID"

OE_ID2 = WshShell.RegRead(OE_ID)

OE_ID3 = "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\" & OE_ID2 & "\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0\Store Root"

StoreFolder = WshShell.RegRead(OE_ID3)

ShowFolder = "%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe " & StoreFolder

WSHShell.Run ShowFolder

Set WshShell = Nothing

Download open_oe_store.vbs

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Other Tools


This classic VB utility comes from MVP Karl E. Peterson, "Based on the inspired hacking of Richard Grimes", also a MVP. Its sole function is to allow you to run multiple instances of Outlook Express. For example, you can open Outlook Express to your inbox to read e-mail, then run MultiOE and open your favorite newsgroup in its own OE window.

This tool has not been extensively tested, so use at your own risk! Be sure to backup your OE store folder regularly if you plan to use it.

MultiOE homepage (27Kb, includes source code)


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OE Message Rule Editor

This Excel macro file, courtesy of Brian Murphy, allows you to do 2 important things you can't do from the OE user interface:

  1. Import or export a list of phrases to a rule.
  2. Include spaces at the start or end of a phrase.

There is one "gotcha". OE allows a rule to have multiple criteria. This utility only operates on the first criteria. Excel 2000 or later is required!

This macro has not been extensively tested, so use at your own risk! Be sure to backup your Identity's registry keys before using it.

Please send feedback to the author, Brian Murphy, and not to InsideOE.

 Download (37Kb)


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OE Power Tool

This program from Polish MVP Grzegorz Niemirowski was designed to fix several bugs in OE as well as to extend OE's functionality. It works its magic by creating a proxy news server between OE and your "real" news server. This allows OE Power Tool to intercept all incoming and outgoing messages and so perform such useful functions as adding random signatures, coloring of quotes in replies, modifying X-Newsreader headers, and a host of other possibilities. It is pretty simply to install and configure, but this is probably a tool for advanced users who understand a bit about news message headers and the like. OE Power Tool is available in English, Polish and German.

Outlook Express Power Tool homepage

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OE is very weak in formatting replies in plain text, a problem most apparent in newsgroup threads. There are several shareware programs for reformatting text, but MessageCleaner's combination of power, ease of use and low price makes it my favorite. This program can be freely used and distributed for a 30 day trial period after which you are asked to register

Download MessageCleaner (1.57Mb)

MessageCleaner Home Page

Disclaimer: I do receive a very small commission if enough people download directly from this site and register the program. Apparently not many people do so as I've only received US$16 one time in the first year this site was available. So I hope no one thinks I'm recommending this program just for the money.

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Magic Mail Monitor

Sometimes you might not want to leave OE running, but would still like notification of new mail. And it's sometimes nice to be able to see mail message headers before you actually download the messages themselves. Then there are those times when someone sends you a 9Mb file that you don't want to download. For those and similar occasions, I use Magic Mail Monitor. This very small program sits in the system tray and checks for mail from any number of POP3 accounts on any schedule you configure. You can view just headers, or delete headers from the server, or double-click a message to download it and read it as either a text file (*.txt) or an OE message file (*.eml. You can also create multiple profiles with different accounts and settings. And best of all, it is 100% free.

Magic Mail Monitor was originally developed by Valeriy Ovechkin whose original versions seem to be no longer available. The project has since been taken over by Igor Green who has already made some nice improvements, including the use of message filters. Visit his website for the latest versions.

it's Magic!

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Registry Key Backup

Windows 95/98/Me only, NOT for Windows NT/2000/XP!     

It's useful, it's small, it's free and it can be freely distributed. You can use it to back up your entire registry, or just selected keys. It's just one of several free utilities from Moon Software. Be sure to visit their Free Stuff page, which is where I found this little treasure.

Moon Software Free Stuff

One of the best features of this freebie is that it can be automated with a command line switch to backup just those keys you have selected. With that in mind, I've created a specialized configuration of the program so that it makes an automatic backup of all the OE registry keys as part of my Complete Backup procedure.

Download (245kb)

Registry Backup from Moon Software image
Registry Key Backup Home Page

Unzip the file into its own folder. There is no installation program required. To run the backup, just open the script "Backup OE registry". That will create the file "C:\My Documents\Restore OE Registry.reg". 

If you wish to change that, just double-click "BackupKey.exe", make whatever changes you like, then save and close the program. Now you can run the script as before. Or you can edit the file "BakupKey.rbk" in Notepad and change the Filename line to the path you choose.

Reminder: Because mail and news account passwords are stored in encrypted form, an exported registry file, such as created by Registry Key Backup, will not include any passwords. They must be re-entered manually in Outlook Express after you have restored a saved registry file.

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The Online/Offline mode recognized by all Internet Explorer compatible applications is controlled by clicking File| Work On/Off-line in most windows. This free 3rd-party tool sits in the system tray where a single click toggles between modes.  It can also be configured to run at startup in either mode.  For those who use a dial-up connection, this is highly recommended. For those who use cable, ADSL or LAN connections, it is still highly recommended.

InkSwitch image
InkSwitch Home Page

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This is by far the best graphics and multi-media viewer on the Web. It's small, it's fast, it supports a very large number of file formats (images, animations, icons, sound and music, and it's free. It's a snap to associate file types with IrfanView, or to restore your previous associations (in IrfanView, press P, then click Extensions). It is updated often, and each time it just gets better. Note that you need to download and install the latest plug-ins to view some file types.

IrfanView Home Page
IrfanView Home Page

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