BOOT CAMP 311 (03/02/04)




As promised, in the final part of this short series we are looking at how to transfer or copy your Outlook Express Message Rules and other customisations from one PC to another. Straight away I have to say that it is a bit of a palaver to it do manually and quite honestly, if you only have a handful of Rules  – less than a dozen or so  -- and only one or two email accounts or users, then it’s probably quicker and easier to write the information down and input it again into Outlook Express (OE) on the new PC. Alternatively you could get one of the OE Transfer/Backup programs to do it all for you and we’ll be looking at some of them later on.


Rules, Blocked Senders, Signatures and so on live deep in the Windows Registry and they are tied into the users ‘identity’, which has to do with the long string of characters or ‘Global Unique IDentifier’ (GUID), which we encountered in part one. In order to copy OE Registry data from one PC to another it is necessary to change its identity, so only attempt this job if you know your way around the Windows and the Registry. You do this entirely at your own risk so consider yourself duly warned!


In this article we’ll concentrate on transferring Message Rules, however, moving the Blocked Senders List and Signatures uses an almost identical procedure. As before what follows only applies to Outlook Express Version 5 and above.


Before you begin I strongly suggest that you backup the Registry on both PCs, just in case... In Windows 9x (95, 98, SE & ME) and XP the simplest method is to open the Registry Editor (type ‘regedit’, without the quotes, in Run on the Start menu) then go to Registry > Export Registry File, give it a name (I use a simple date code, e.g. ‘030204’) then save it somewhere accessible like My Documents. In the event of a problem you can restore your registry to its former state by double-clicking your backup file icon in Windows Explorer.


Open Windows Explorer on your old PC (the one you are transferring OE data from) and create a new folder and call it Regkeys. Next, in Regedit go to:

HKEY_ CURRENT_USER\Identities\{GUID}\Software\Microsoft\ Outlook Express\5.0\Rules.


In the left pane highlight the Mail key and go to Registry > Export Registry File, give it a name, e.g. ‘Rules1’ and save it in your newly created Regkeys folder. Copy the Regkeys folder across to the hard disc on your new PC (the one you are moving the data to). Repeat the above steps on the second PC and save it in your Regkeys folder as Rules2.


Open Rules2 in Word or your chosen word processor. If you have Windows XP on your second PC you will probably see a File Conversion dialogue box, if so make sure ‘Other Encoding’ is checked and Unicode is highlighted, click OK and it will open. In the first line of Rules2 document you should see the first instance of the second PC’s GUID, which will look something like ‘{1BV03520-AAA4-1E45-KK1C-932598FG3D45}’. Carefully copy just the characters inside the curly brackets to the clipboard (Ctrl + C), then open Rules1. Go to Replace on the Edit menu, paste (Ctrl + V) the Rules2 GUID into the ‘Replace With’ field and then copy the Rules1 GUID into the ‘Find What’ field. Click the Replace All button and Save Rules1. Close all applications and in Windows Explorer open the Regkeys folder, double-click Rules1 and it will be entered into the Registry. Open OE to make sure they’ve taken and enable the Rules (note that some of them may not work if the specified mailbox folders are not present).


If you are feeling brave you can try the same technique with the Blocked Senders and Signatures Registry Keys, which you will find in the same branch as the Rules key but I have to say this doesn’t always work and in the past I’ve resorted to doing it manually.


Finally, as promised details of some utilities that can do all the hard work for you. I haven’t tried them so any comments or recommendations (or warnings…) are most welcome. I’m not aware of any freeware programs; those listed are commercial titles though trial versions of several of them are available for download. These will have some functions disabled and won’t work until the program is paid for and registered.


OEBackup 6.0, OE (v5.5 onwards), $19.99 (normally $39.99)


ABF Outlook Express Backup, OE (v5 onwards), $29.95


Outlook Express Backup Genie, Outlook, OE, Eudora, Netscape Messenger, IncrediMail, Opera, Pegasus, and PocoMail, $29.95


MTA OE Backup, OE (v5.5 onwards), $29.95


TopLang OE Backup, OE (v5 onwards) and Outlook (v97 onwards) $27.75


Express Assist, OE (v5 onwards) £22



Next week – Hidden Perils





List of email addresses – specified by the user -- that Outlook Express automatically sends to the Deleted Items mailbox



A short message – usually a line or two of text – added to the bottom of emails sent by Outlook Express



Standard character set used for displaying and storing computer data as text




Here’s a neat Outlook Express tip to make it easier to quickly find emails by colour coding messages from friends or colleagues. Go to Tools > Message Rules > and click the New button. Under Conditions check ‘Where the From Line Contains People’ then under Actions select ‘Highlight it with Colour’. Next in the Rule Descriptions box double click the underlined ‘Contains People’ and enter the sender’s name or email address then click the underlined ‘Color’ and make your selection (unfortunately the choice is fairly uninspiring). Click OK and to finish off click the Apply Now button. 

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