BOOT CAMP 197 (18/10/01)


Transferring Outlook Express, part 2


As we explained in part one last week transferring your email software (specifically Outlook Express version 5) from one PC to another can be a tricky business because of the way files and settings are configured and squirreled away in various locations on your PC's hard drive. Nevertheless it's not too difficult to copy the most important files and it is even possible to construct an almost complete 'clone' of your current OE installation on another PC, but we'll begin with the basics.


The three most important elements of Outlook Express are Accounts, Address Book and Messages. Accounts is the connection details to your Internet Service Provider; it includes Dial-Up phone numbers, your email address, password and the locations of your email inbox and newsgroup accounts. Your Address Book file contains all of your contacts and the Message folder stores all of your sent, received, draft and deleted emails. 


Between them these files are enough to get you up and running on another PC but they do not contain any of your personal preferences for the way OE is set up – Views and Toolbars etc. -- nor do they include your Message Rules or Blocked Senders list; these are stored in the Windows Registry and copying them across to another PC is something only seasoned Windows users should attempt, but more on that in a moment.


Start by creating a new folder on your original PC using Windows Explorer, call it something like OEback and this is where you will gather together all of the files to be transferred to the new PC.


Next, go to Accounts on the Outlook Express Tools menu and select the Mail tab. Highlight each entry in the Accounts window in turn, click the Export button and use the dialogue box to send the files – with the extension '.iaf' (internet account file) -- to your newly created OEback folder. Next locate your Address Book (typically C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book, see last week's Boot Camp) and use Windows Explorer to copy and paste the Address Book '.wab' file into your OEback folder.


I have found from bitter experience that the OE Address Book backup/copy system isn't very reliable so as a precaution I suggest that you make a second copy from the File menu in OE; select Export then Address Book, highlight Text File (Comma Separated Value), click Export then send it to your OEback folder. This will create a text file with a .csv (comma separated value) extension.  


Finally, use Copy and Paste in Windows Explorer to copy your Message Store folder to the OEback folder, this is normally located at: C:\Windows\Application Data\Identities\{GUID}\Microsoft\Outlook Express, where GUID (see Jargon Filter) is a long string of around 30 numbers and letters. You can copy the whole folder or just the mail folders your want to keep (<yourname.dbx> etc.) but you must copy the file Folders.dbx as this is the master index and OE won't work properly without it.


How you proceed from here depends on your chosen transfer method (see last week's Boot Camp), if you've elected to use a cable connection like Laplink or DCC all you will have to do is access the OEback folder from the second PC, if you are using transportable media (CD-R/RW, Zip, Jaz etc.) copy the folder to the disc and load it to the new PC. You can either read directly from the disc, or copy the folder to your new PC's hard drive.


All that remains now is to copy the files into your new PC. Incidentally, copying the Address Book and Message Store folders into the same location on a second PC using Windows Explorer doesn't work. Start by opening Accounts on the Tools menu, click the Import button, use Browse to find your OEback folder and click and highlight each Account in turn. Your Address Book is loaded from Import on the File menu, if you have problems with the *.wab file try using your standby *.csv file. Lastly the Messages, these are also loaded using the Import function on the File menu, from your OEback folder. I've also had trouble with this in the past, especially when the message folders are really large, so rather that do them all at once (the default 'All Folders' setting) try importing a couple of mailboxes at a time. It takes a little longer but it seems to be more reliable.


Now, as promised, for Windows experts the details of the Registry keys for transferring things like Message Rules Signatures, Custom Views and Block Senders list. You should not attempt this procedure if you are unfamiliar with editing the Registry as really, really bad things can happen if you get it wrong and do not have a current backup!


Open Regedit and go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\{GUID}\Software \Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0. There you will see three sub keys: \Block Senders\Rules and \Signatures. Highlight each one in turn, on the Registry menu select Export Registry File and save them in your OEback folder as '*.reg' files.


On your second/new PC open Regedit and go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities \{GUID}. In the left-hand pane right-click on the GUID key, select Rename (do not rename it!) and press Ctrl + C to copy the GUID value, brackets and all, to the Clipboard. Close Regedit and open WordPad. Open each 'reg' file in turn and use Find and Replace to change all instances of the old GUID to the new one, from the Clipboard. When that's done Save each file, making sure it retains its *.reg extension. Open Regedit again and delete the existing Block Sender, Rules and Signature keys then it's back to Windows Explorer, double-click on the modified keys in your OEback folder and they will be automatically written into the new PC's Registry. In Message Rules you may have to re-specify folder locations but this should only take a minute or so.


Next week – Picture Editing





Recordable CD-ROM systems; CD-R uses discs that can be written to just once whilst CD-RW (read-write) discs can be recorded on and erased many times



Global Unique IDentifier  -- long string of letters and numbers (e.g. '{1345E 5E0-40HH-1D41-K189-F89D946S AD6B}') that Windows uses to identify files specific to a particular PC or user.



A large, constantly changing database file in Windows 95/98/ME etc., containing details of how your PC is set up and configuration information for all the programs stored on the hard disc



If you use Outlook Express and send your emails in plain text then you can make them much easier for others to read by changing the line length, which is set by default to 76 characters.  To do that go to the Tools menu and select Options and then the Send tab. Click the Plain Text Settings button and use the down arrow to change the 'Automatically wrap text at' value to 65. If OE is set to send text as Rich Text or HTML there's no need to worry as it will automatically wrap to fit the recipient's message window.

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