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Taking Control in Outlook Express

Sandra Prior
Jun 9, 2008
Outlook Express is a program commonly used for handling email and newsgroup messages. If your browser comes with a program to deal with email and newsgroups, then it may seem there is no need to look somewhere else, but how else are you going to be sure you are using the best program for your needs?

Most alternatives will cost money of course. Whatever you choose, Internet Explorer will use it as a mail client as long as you've instructed it to do so. Select Tools, Options, Programs to find the relevant setting.

Anonymous Messages

Email would be great if you only got messages from friends and colleagues, but unfortunately many people get large quantities of spam. One approach is to try a little detective work, by viewing the message header. In Outlook Express, right click on the message and select Properties, Details, Message Source. Look for the first Received field, which will look something like, 'Received: from host.com [123.123.123.123].

Enter the host name at SpamCop and it may give you an email address of the spammer's ISP. Send the ISP a complaint attaching a full copy of the unwanted message and leave them to deal with it. Most ISPs explicitly forbid spamming, and the offender will probably lose their account. Don't expect too much though, as some spammers use software that can forge their host name, while others send messages with free accounts on the web.

Another method is to complain to your ISP. If they implement spam filters to reduce this kind of mail getting through, then they need to hear when and why the filters aren't working.

Day-to-day Problem Solving

There are a vast number of things that can go wrong with email and news software.

If you're seeing error messages telling you that the host or server is not found when picking up mail, check that you've set up the correct server names for your ISP, Tools, Accounts, Properties, Servers.

If you have multiple ISP accounts, be aware that most won't let you send email if you've dialed in via another ISP. You can't connect to Hotmail and then send your Yahoo! Mail, for example. This is a good thing as it cuts opportunities for spamming.

Sometimes you may send an email and find it gets sent straight back to you (known as bouncing). Messages may be bounced for all kinds of reasons - you might have used an address that is no longer valid, or there may be a temporary problem at the other end. There's usually a message accompanying your email that explains things, so make sure you read it. It is a good idea to delete messages in the deleted folder items periodically, including the sent folder. This saves disk space, otherwise it keeps getting bigger and slows down Outlook Express. That's definitely a bad thing.

Is your address book short of names because it's too much hassle to manually add them? Get organized without wasting time by right clicking on a message, then selecting, Add sender to address book. The downside is that if you get infected by an email worm, it will send itself to everyone in your address book in order to replicate.
About the Author
Sandra Prior runs her own websites at http://usacomputers.rr.nu and http://sacomputers.rr.nu.
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