BOOT CAMP 218 (26/03/02)




Outlook Express comes a close runner up to Windows and Word as a source of woe and frustration but for all of its faults – and it has a few – Outlook Express is actually a very sophisticated email ‘Client’ and offers far more functionality that most users will ever need. It is also easy to set up and use and most first-timers soon get to grips with it, but a lot of users never get past the basics and discover the wealth of hidden features.


This week we have some hints and tips that will hopefully make OE seem a little less daunting, they’re mostly intended for the current version 6, but most of them are applicable to earlier versions.


If you are using an older version of OE it is well worth upgrading to V6, in addition to new features most of the worst security loopholes have been plugged. OE6 is free – it is bundled with Internet Explorer 6 -- and can be downloaded from: It’s a fair size (up to 17Mb) so keep an eye out for it on computer magazine cover mount CD ROMs.


We’ll kick off with a quick and simple tip that notifies you when an email has been received and opened. The recipient also has to be using Outlook Express or a compatible email client program and has to manually acknowledged receipt or set their client program to do it automatically, but OE is the world’s most popular email program and there’s a fair chance it will work.  To ask for a receipt for an individual email go to the Tools menu on the message window and click Request Read Receipt. To enable it for all outgoing messages go to the main Tools menu, select Options then the Receipt tab and check the box. If you want to oblige others check the item’ Always send a Read Receipt’.


You may have noticed that as your mailboxes fill up OE slows down. It’s a good idea to compact messages from time to time (Tools > Options > Maintenance), better still archive your old messages. The simplest method is to highlight the messages you want to archive. If there’s a lot of them hold down the Ctrl key, click the one at the top of the list then either press and hold the down arrow or Page Down keys. Right-click the highlighted messages and select Forward as Attachment. This will open a new message window with all of your selected messages inserted as attachments – be patient, it can take a while. Now go to Save As on the File men, choose a location and give your message archive a name. You can read the messages at any time simply by clicking on your archive file in Windows Explorer, this will automatically open Outlook Express and from there you can read messages or restore them by dragging and dropping them back into folders. When you are satisfied it’s working you can delete the archived messages, to free up space and speed up Outlook Express.


It’s not a good idea to have the Preview Pane enabled as it can open the door to viruses riding piggyback on emails and attachments. (To disable the Preview Pane go to Layout on the View menu). However, it’s sometimes useful to have this facility on call, so here’s how to add a Preview Pane button to the Toolbar.  Right-click into an empty area of the Toolbar and select Customize, scroll down the list of Available Toolbar Buttons and highlight Preview and click the Add button. You can alter its position by highlighting it and moving it up or down the list in the right hand Current Toolbar Buttons window.


If you have a lot of emails with large attachments cluttering up your Inboxes simply save the email without the attachment. Open the message and select Save As on the message window’s File menu then in the Save As Type drop-down menu choose Text File. The email will now be saved as plain text, which can be opened and read using any word processor. You can save the attachment separately by right clicking on it in the message window or delete the message and attachment together.


We’ll round off with a list of the many and various keyboard shortcuts in Outlook Express, there’s bound to be one or two worth remembering.


ALT + ENTER, view properties of selected message        

ALT + Left arrow, go to previous message 

ALT + Right arrow, go to next message     

ALT + S, post message        

CTRL + <, go to previous message in list   

CTRL + >, go to next message in list          

CTRL + A, select all messages       

CTRL + D, delete mail message     

CTRL + ENTER, mark message as read   

CTRL + ENTER, send (post) a message    

CTRL + F, forward message

CTRL + G, reply to all (news only)  

CTRL + I, go to Inbox          

CTRL + J, go to next unread newsgroup/folder      

CTRL + M, send and receive mail  

CTRL + N, open or post new message        

CTRL + O, open selected message 

CTRL + P, print selected message  

CTRL + Q, mark message as read  

CTRL + R, reply to message author           

CTRL + SHIFT + <, go to previous message in list           

CTRL + SHIFT + >, go to next message in list      

CTRL + SHIFT + A, mark all news messages as read      

CTRL + SHIFT + F, find text          

CTRL + SHIFT + M, download news for offline reading   

CTRL + SHIFT + R, reply to all      

CTRL + SHIFT + S, insert signature          

CTRL + SHIFT + U, go to next unread news thread          

CTRL + U, g to next unread mail message 

CTRL+ W, go to a newsgroup         

ESC, Close message 

F1, open Help topics 

F3, find text   

F5, refresh news messages and headers     

F7, check spelling     

CTRL + T, mark thread as read      


Next week - Word hints and tips





A PC or program used to access files on another PC on a network



Facility in Outlook Express to reduce the amount of disc space wasted by email messages



Facility in Outlook Express to automatically open and display the contents of an email message, which can be dangerous if the message, contains a virus




Here’s a quick timesaving tip for advanced users. This simple Registry hack disables the Outlook Express ‘Splash Screen’ that appears every time you start the program. OE will then open more or less instantly. Don’t forget, before you tinker around with the Registry always make a backup, and if you don’t know how to do it, leave it alone, or read Boot Camps 126 & 127.


Open Regedit then go to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Identities

For OE 5 go below this to { -- ABC123XYZ….. long alphanumeric code } \Software \ Microsoft \ Outlook Express \ 5.0. Right click into the right-hand pane and select New > DWORD, rename the DWORD ‘NoSplash’ (without the inverted commas) and give it a Value of 1. Close Regedit and try it out, now all you have to do is think what you’ll do with all the time you saved…

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