E-mail settings Outlook Express

Basically there are two ways to send and receive e-mail messages: with an e-mail application or web based with an internet browser like the Internet Explorer. Most web based solutions are straight forward and easy in use (and available wherever you are able to browse the internet because your mail are stored on the server of the e-mail provider). With an e-mail application your send and received e-mail are stored on your computer. Therefore you need an e-mail application like Windows Mail (Windows Vista build-in), Outlook (part of MS Office) or Outlook Express (Windows XP build-in). This page describes the different settings of the e-mail applications Outlook Express (Windows XP build-in).


A new Windows Live product has been launched: Windows Live Mail. This free e-mail application supports Hotmail/Live-accounts and RSS-feeds.

E-mail settings Outlook Express

Setting up Outlook Express is actually not that difficult. From your e-mail provider you probably received the settings like e-mail address, POP3 and SMTP server, user account and password. Most times, this is all the information you need. In Outlook Express you click Tools, Accounts in the toolbar followed by the button Add, E-mail, and a wizard appears to setup the account.

In the appearing wizard you first enter your name, followed with your e-mail address (enter your e-mail address correctly, else nobody will be able to reply your e-mail!). On the next screen you have to enter the POP3 and SMTP server (provided by your provider). The POP3 server is the incoming mail server of the e-mail provider, while the SMTP server is the outgoing mail server (most times you have to use the SMTP server of your internet provider (probably the same as your e-mail provider)). The last screen of the wizard is used to enter the username and password, provided by your e-mail provider.

By selecting the created e-mail account, you are able to change the properties by clicking the Properties button. You are able to change the name (as identification for yourself) and if needed changing the default port numbers on the tab Advanced. On the bottom of this tab your are able to leave a copy of the messages on the server for a certain amount of time. This can be interesting if you would like to download your e-mail on more then one computer!

Changing default Outlook Express settings

The default Outlook Express settings aren't always that comfortable, I prefer to change some of them:


Of course it's great to see a preview of the incoming e-mail, but this is not a wise setting. Sometimes an unwanted spam e-mail contains a small invisible picture, downloaded from the spammer-server. This way the spammer knows you are a (valuable frequent) e-mail reader and will spam you more and more. Never open spam mail! Disabling the preview screen is easy: select your Inbox, click View in the toolbar, Layout, disable Show preview pane. Disable the preview pane of the Deleted Items as well!


Because of security settings, it is possible to receive e-mail with unreachable attachments. This is the default setting within Outlook Express. To disable this security option, click Tools, Options, tab Security, disable the option Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus. However, I prefer to use a workaround to be able to access the disabled attachment. By clicking Forward, the attachment is suddenly available (there is no need to forward the e-mail of course, just a work around!). This way you keep your security at a high level.


The blue splash screen, results in a delay in the startup of Outlook Express. The splash screen can be disabled by a register-tweak, by creating a DWORD value NoSplash, with the value 1, in the following key:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\{....}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0

Changing database location Outlook Express

When a data partition is used to separate the personal files from the system files (to create an image of the Windows partition), move the Outlook Express database as well (by default these files are hidden). For more information visit the page about moving the personal files (including the contacts) to a data partition.

Outlook Express stores the e-mail database by default in the folder C:\Documents and Settings\inlognaam\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{....}\Outlook Express. Create a folder in the user location (on a separate partition) first using the Windows Explorer (for example D:\loginname\Mail). Changing the Outlook Express database location is done by Tools, Options, tab Advanced, button Maintenance, button Store Folder, button Change, navigate to the new folder and confirm with the button OK. After a restart of Outlook Express, the original e-mail archive is copied automatically to the new location.

NOTE: Create a back-up of the original DBX files before changing the database location! If these files become demaged while changing the database location, they can still be copied manually (using the Windows Explorer) to the new location...

Changing database location of the Windows Address Book

Besides the e-mail archive, you need to change the location of the Windows Address Book! This is more difficult, without any software, you need to dive into the registry editor to change the default address book archive location. Use the registry search option (CTRL-F and F3) to find the address book location by searching for `.wab`. However, I prefer to use the very useful utility OE Tweaker (download). With this utility you are able to change the default Windows Address Book location (first copy the address book to the new location (almost the same as above, changing the Outlook Express archive). Besides that you can hide the Windows Messenger, disable the blue OE splash screen (!) and select the default attachment save location.

Not able to save the password

In some cases Outlook doesn't save your password, even if you enable the option to save the password. This error is caused by a malfunctioning of the Protected Storage Space from Windows. To solve this problem, run the registry editor and navigate to the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Protected Storage System Provider. You will find a key with a long name starting with S-1-5-21 which you have to delete (probably it's safe to create a back-up of this key by File, Export). In most cases the problem is solved and next time the passwords will be saved. Be careful: by doing this you will lose all stored passwords. Read the back-up page how to recover these passwords.

If this doesn't solve the password issue (or if it's not possible to delete the key), there is probably a problem with the permissions of your user account. Select the key Protected Storage System Provider, right click on it and select Permissions, button Advanced. Make sure that your user account has Full Control for this key and sub keys. Activate the option Reset permissions on all child objects and enable propagation of inheritable permissions, click OK and repeat the earlier mentioned procedure. If needed, check the Microsoft KB files (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290684). Here you will find more information how to reset the protected storage system provider.

Opening hyperlinks doesn't work and other problems

Frequently people ask me how to fix the issue with hyperlinks in an e-mail message which won't open anymore (and other strange problems). Most of the time this is caused by the  registry of the DLL files. You can fix this by using the following commands in Start, Run:

regsvr32 urlmon.dll
regsvr32 shdocvw.dll
regsvr32 actxprxy.dll
regsvr32 oleaut32.dll
regsvr32 mshtml.dll
regsvr32 browseui.dll
regsvr32 shell32.dll

This can be done easely by selecting them one by one, copy (CTRL-C) and paste (CTRL-V) in the Run box. The next thing is to start the Internet Explorer and select Tools, Internet Options, tab Programs, button Reset Web Settings. Most of the time the troubles are solved.

TIP: It can be irritating that clicking on a hyperlink in an e-mail will overwrite the current Internet Explorer webpage. You can solve this issue by disabling the option Reuse windows for launching shortcuts. You can find this option in the Internet Explorer, Tools, Internet Options, tab Advanced, Browsing area.

Visit the page about useful tips for sending e-mail for more information.

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