Sometimes it seems like Microsoft has a monopoly on the e-mail game. Maybe it’s because people tend to believe that Microsoft Outlook is the best e-mail application out there. Or maybe it’s because it’s integrated neatly into Microsoft Office, which cozily packages it with other productivity applications.
Whatever the reason, I know one thing for sure: Microsoft’s gargantuan that is Outlook is not going anywhere.
I’ll come right out and say that I don’t like Outlook. I only use it on one of my PCs, and that’s only because you use it. I need to know how it works so that when you call on me to help you, I at least have a slight clue as to what I’m doing.
If you haven’t guessed it by now, I get calls to help people with their Outlook related issues quite often. Users corrupt their .pst files, can’t open their Outlook, or install add-ins that probably shouldn’t even exist. Sound familiar?
There are a few simple solutions to deal with difficult Microsoft Outlook problems. I’ll outline those problems and solutions below.
1. My Outlook is hanging at ‘Loading Profile’
-I’ve seen this happen for a variety of reasons. The first thing to do is open Task Manager. Use the key combination of (CTRL + ALT + DEL) and go to the ‘Processes’ tab. Find the ‘Outlook.exe’ process, Right-click on it, and click ‘End Process’. This should close Outlook completely, and you should now be able to re-open it.
Note: In some cases, the ‘Outlook.exe’ process will not close. If this is the case, you will probably need to reboot your PC to continue troubleshooting.
-If you still can’t re-open Outlook, there is a good chance that an add-in to the program is preventing it from opening. Try to start Outlook in safe mode by holding CTRL while clicking on the program to open it. You will see a pop-up box that asks you if you would like to boot into Safe Mode. Do so. By default, Safe Mode turns off all of Outlook’s add-ins. If you can boot into Safe Mode, an add-in is definitely to blame for your problems.
In Outlook 2010, we can disable add-ins by going to the ‘File’ tab, clicking ‘Options’ in the left pane, and clicking ‘Add-Ins’. Now where it says ‘Manage’ at the bottom, make sure ‘Com Add-Ins’ is selected. Click ‘Go’, and uncheck all of the add-ins. Exit Outlook and try to open the program regularly this time around. If it works, you can re-check each add-in until you can reproduce the problem. When you have recreated the problem, you know that you have a troublesome add-in. Voila.
-If you’re still having problems, there are a few other things to check. Download a .pst file scanner like this one and scan the .pst file that you use regulary. This file is located in C:\Users\yourname\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook. Remember to turn on Hidden Files in your view options before you look for it. That AppData folder is hidden.
-If you’re still not having any success, try to create a new profile. You can do this easily through the ‘Mail’ application in Control Panel (32-bit) or through Outlook itself.
-If all else fails, you can always try to re-install Microsoft Outlook itself.
2. My Outlook keeps crashing.
-This is simlar to the problem above. If I was a betting man, I would say that a faulty or corrupt add-in is to blame for this issue. Cycle through the above solutions and see if any of them are helpful. Remember that a crash means that a program is being deprived of something it needs, such as memory. Something has to be running that is using all of the program’s available resources.
3. My e-mail is being received ridiculously slowly!
-I’ve covered this issue in a previous post. Check it out.
4. When I try to open Outlook, Microsoft starts downloading something and tries to repair my Office installation.
-I’ve seen this a few times. It usually means that the installation of Microsoft Office is corrupt. The best thing to do is uninstall Office the proper way, using ‘Add/Remove Programs’. Re-install Microsoft Office and you should be all set.
5. Help, I’ve lost all of my e-mails!
-I always hope that everyone backs up all of their important files, but I know that this isn’t the case. If you have important e-mails, BACK UP YOUR .PST FILE(S). It’s impossible to restore your e-mails if they aren’t backed up. Believe me, you’ll save yourself a lot of tears by backing this one file up. Your IT guy will also thank you.
6. I’ve just moved all of my Outlook e-mails to a new PC/Profile, and now I don’t have my Auto-Complete List anymore.
-You know how when you go to send an e-mail to a recipient, all you usually have to do is type the first letter of that recipient’s e-mail address and Outlook does the rest? Well, that’s not attached to your .PST file. This information is actually stored in a .NK2 file, which is in a different location entirely. Your .NK2 file is here:
To move it to your new Outlook profile, place it in that same location. Then, make sure you give it the same name as your new Outlook profile. Once you’ve done this, you can import the .NK2 file using the following method:
-Make sure you have exited Outlook.
-Click the Start Orb and click ‘Run’
-Type outlook.exe /importnk2 in that box.
Remember to back up this file along with your .PST file, or you won’t have your Auto-Complete List anymore!
Are you having an issue with Outlook that I didn’t cover? Chime in and let me know. Thanks.