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Why Outlook Express Must Die

I rarely make negative comments about specific programs or products. I prefer instead to present a more positive view of the products that I like and recommend rather than saying bad things about the products I don’t.

Some time ago, Microsoft introduced the Internet Explorer 6 countdown in an effort to publicize the fact that there’s no valid reason to continue to use IE6. Its days are over. IE7, 8 and 9 are all available, more stable and more importantly, more secure. (And, of course, there’s a host of other browsers as well, but I’m not shocked to find that fact missing from the Microsoft site.)

In my opinion, they didn’t go far enough. It’s time for another program of that same era to go away.

Outlook Express must die.

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Outlook Express was awesome

Don’t get me wrong. Outlook Express was an awesome email program.

It helped more people get on to the internet and sending email than perhaps any other single email program. People found it easy to use, and fundamentally sufficient for exactly what they wanted to do with email.

Along with IE 6 it came along at a critical time in the evolution of the internet. Provided, for free, on every copy of Windows it was the right program in the right place at the right time.

People were very happy with it.

Unfortunately bad things happened.

Outlook Express Loses Email

Outlook Express Must Die

This is purely empirical, based on the problem reports that I’ve gotten from people over the last seven ten-plus years of doing Ask Leo!

Next to email account thefts, the biggest problem that I hear about is people losing email, often forever, while using Outlook Express. It happens so much that I cringe whenever I see a question come in that mentions it; I know that the news will not be good.

Anyone who’s mistakenly answered “Yes” to the “Compact Now?” prompt has probably felt the pain. (Hint: Don’t do it.)

Outlook Express’ storage format is apparently fragile, difficult to backup in a way that’s useful for anything other than a complete restore, and almost impossible to repair without expensive third-party tools.

Outlook Express is No Longer Supported

The last time Microsoft included Outlook Express with a browser was with Internet Explorer 6. The fact that they’re now actively discouraging IE6’s use should tell you something about Outlook Express.

There are no more releases, no more bug fixes, and precious little help if you have a problem.

Microsoft removed Outlook Express from Windows Vista, and there’s no way to get Outlook Express in Windows 7 or 8 short of running a complete copy of Windows XP in a virtual machine.

There Are Many Great Alternatives

There are so many great alternatives to Outlook Express that it’s staggering. There are well over 100 different email programs or approaches one could take. Here are a few of the most common that I can suggest:

  • Windows Live Mail, a free download, is Microsoft’s heir-apparent to Outlook Express. It sports a more reasonable storage format, and significantly improved Hotmail integration.
  • Outlook is Microsoft’s full-featured, industrial strength mail program. More than a mail program, Outlook includes calendaring, contact management and much more. Outlook is a part of Microsoft Office, but it can be purchased separately. Outlook is not related in any way to Outlook Express, other than it has an unfortunate name similarity and comes from Microsoft.
  • Thunderbird is a free, open source email program that, in my opinion, is perhaps the best replacement for Outlook Express. I’ve been using Thunderbird for several years and I am exceptionally pleased with its configurability, stability, and overall usefulness.
  • Gmail is a free email service from Google. While it might seem odd to mention an email service when what we’re replacing is an email program, two completely separate things, Gmail allows you to check mail from other mail accounts by fetching the email via POP3 into Gmail. The Gmail interface is popular among many, and Gmail itself is the only free email service that I can recommend.

Seriously, though, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many good alternatives worth considering.

Moving Is Hard

I agree: switching email programs a pain. (There’s a common confusion that you need to change your email address when you change your email program. You don’t – they are two different things.)

But it’s less painful than losing all of your email.

And moving to an email program that’s supported and updated and for which you have more resources for help is a really, really good thing.

The one piece of advice that I can offer here is: change email programs before you switch machines, if possible. Most programs that provide the Outlook Express import capability do so assuming that Outlook Express is installed and running on the current machine. Copying Outlook Express folders to another machine and then trying to import them into a new email program is often problematic.

Once you’ve converted to the new email program, moving to a new machine is typically much easier. This is another one of Outlook Express’s weak points.

It’s not an ideal world

In an ideal world, Microsoft would have continued to support and improve Outlook Express, but for whatever reason, they did not.

There’s really no point in grousing about it now – it’s a done deal. It’s been a done deal for years.

If you’re angry at Microsoft for taking this approach, then perhaps one of the best things that you can do to secure your email and feel a little better about doing do is to switch to a non-Microsoft email program.

Anything but Outlook Express.

If you must stay

One thing that has become apparent is that there are many individuals who are absolutely adamant that there’s nothing wrong with Outlook Express – even though my personal experience says otherwise – and are determined to stick with it as long as possible.

It’s not my recommendation, but here’s what I do recommend you do if you’re sticking with Outlook Express:

  • Never ever use the compact operation unless the folder you are compacting is empty. In certain circumstances compacting has been seen to lose email.
  • Never allow a single folder to grow larger than 2 gigabytes in size. Exceeding 2 gigabytes is highly suspect in many cases of data loss. Spreading your email across multiple folders is one way to mitigate this issue.
  • Back up. Back up often, back up regularly, back up completely. When something happens this is your own hope of salvation.

It appears that the fundamental source of Outlook Express’ problems is large accumulations of mail. It worked and worked well originally and when people didn’t have as much mail. After 10+ years of accumulated email that’s no longer the case for many people.

And it’s a case that Outlook Express appears unprepared for.

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129 comments on “Why Outlook Express Must Die”

  1. I agree here with you Leo outlook express is a dead deal i quit using it years ago just like you did. i was sick of the headaches of loosing e-mail and the like. also the program is prone to crashes and so on. if i was anyone reading this that still uses it switch now. i recommend windows live male client,or Thunderbird.
    Leo you are a wise man i love reading your ask-Leo webpage.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. Over the last year or so I have encountered several clients who wanted to stick with OE6 for the sake of familiarity but whose installation had become flakey. Often, they do not seem happy with “upgrading” to Windows Live Mail. In particular, the folder structure is confusing. I was with someone just this morning whose OE6 has decided to create her emails in a font of its own choosing (although the recipient sees them correctly).

  3. Now, If I could just figure out how to uninstall Outlook, I’d be a happy man. When I bought my new machine, I told them I didn’t want Outlook. The damn program self installed. I used to be able to right click and G-mail articles and such, now Outcrook pops up, prompting much cursing, cutting and pasting. My question(s): How do I get rid of Outlook? How do I get my G-mail right click back?

    First realize that Outlook is a completely different program than Outlook Express. Outlook is part of Microsoft Office, and you should be able to uninstall it by finding Microsoft Office in Control Panel -> Programs and Features or Add/Remove Programs.

    Sounds like what’s really going on is that the default “mailto” program isn’t set properly. More on that here: How do I change the “mailto:” or default mail program?

  4. Very helpful article.
    Please write another article about which email programs are robust enough to handle a very weak point in most email programs: the 2 GB size limit. This limitation has caused many nightmares to me and millions of other users.
    Please enlighten us all.
    Thank you.

    Most current versions of email programs, including all those I’ve referenced in the article, will handle that today.

  5. I have been using Outlook Express for over six years and have Thunderbird installed ready to go just in case it fails. But it never gives me any problems. It will now after saying this. lol.
    I agree Thunderbird is almost the same and an exellent replacement.

  6. I’ve been using Outlook Express since 2001 and have had no difficulty with it since then that I can remember. I love it! However, I bought a laptop recently with Windows 7 installed which means that I had to say ‘goodbye’ to Outlook Express. I installed Thunderbird and after a brief learning curve I’m very happy with it.

  7. I note the main view on Outlook Express. My view is entirely the opposite, I have had no trouble copying the emails to another folder on my computer for backup.
    OE is so good for getting an email and being able to drag it to a folder.
    I do not like Hotmail because the email is not a usable document in the same way because is it online.
    Perhaps I do not have the level of sophistication of other persons but OE works for me.
    Once it is not available I would appreciate any knowledge out there which would point me in the direction of something similar. Maybe Live Mail will be great but the simplicity of OE is what I like.

  8. I have used Outlook Express for so many years it is now grey! I have refused to be sidetracked into Outlook or to any other email programme for my daily use.

    The only thing that I have found that could be better with OE is the transfer of stored email folders when a new PC is to be used. I have lost all of these in the past.

  9. I moved from Outlook Express to Windows Live Mail some months ago, but moved back because of one specific operating issue. My wife and I run one laptop each and three email addresses – one shared, and one each personal. In WLM, we can see all three address (if we want) in the same setup – in IE one has to Switch Identity to see each address. However, in OE, I can set the email deletion-from-server characteristics per email address per laptop. As a result, she deletes her personal emails from the server and I delete my personal emails plus our shared emails. In WLM, apparently I can only set a global deletion-from-server parameter for all addresses per laptop – which would result in her being able to delete her emails AND the shared ones: not what I want. If there is a way around this, I’d love to know it and be glad to upgrade permanently to WLM!

  10. Leo, you and I are in different camps on this one. I used Outlook Express for many years and liked it fine. VERY few problem. NOW, with Win7, I am using Windows Live Mail 2011 and I could fill a DVD with all the problems. It is, imho, a VERY bad program. Just like the software they wrote for the Zune and the horrible Windows Media Player. I DREAM of going back to Outlook Express. I fear Microsoft is encouraging people to swith to Apple like my son already did.

  11. I use Outlook for my mail, but I still keep Outlook Express on my backup machine, mainly because whenever I have some spare time, I like to play around with stationery. And although I am not a great coder, I can usually get done what I’m trying to accomplish. I’ve yet to see any other email program that will allow me to access the code, and install scripts. Up until recently my mother was on dialup, and I would insert a script that would stream an MP3 so that she could start listening immediately. I have a feeling that I’ll be playing with Outlook Express until the cows come home ;-)

  12. I have to disagree on this one, I was sad to leave Outlook express behind when I moved to win7, but I’ve become happy using Thunderbird with gmail. We still use outlook express on some systems in our corporate network. when we switched domain controllers it was easy to mirgate the oitlook express users with the ‘file and settings transfer wizard’. Moving the outlook users was much more work.

  13. I have to weigh in on this one also. I have been using OE since 99′ and have not found anything that works as good. Windows Live Mail is a poor substute. I tried it for a couple months with a new Win 7 machine and gave up and reloaded XP and OE. Am very happy with the results. I plan to stay with XP and OE for as long as possible.

    • Me too, I persevered, but finally had to give in (Jan 2016) when my on-line banking, which requires latest version of Java, went on strike. Could no longer download Java updates onto XP, was forced to go Win 7 and Outlook. Slowly getting used to new screen faces, gotta admit senior citizen’s resistance to change was an element

  14. Sorry Leo, I must join the chorus of those who have a bad taste in their mouths regarding the loss of OE.

    Never had a problem with it, had a great program to back up and restore it. I’ve tried Livemail for W7 and it stinks. With your suggestions, I think I’ll try Thunderbird, and keep looking if that doesn’t work for me. I’d bet if Billy G. and Co. were getting $$ for OE, they’d happily integrate it into W7 and continue to update it. This is not progress, in my opinion.

  15. Leo,

    This is one (rare) occasion when I have to side with those supporting “Outlook Express”. I’ve used it since 2002 with only one (self-inflicted) catastrophe, early on. The only reason I can come up with for Microsoft’s decision to not support it going forward is it would compete with newer products in the pipeline. Typical MS. Further, I don’t understand the problem you allude to with OE’s “Compact” function. Perhaps some clarification would help those “on the fence” make a more informed decision.

    I’m about to do a tear-down/rebuild cleanup of MS XP SP3 on my Dell Latitude D810. Would this be a good time to migrate to Thunderbird? Or should I wait?


  16. I’ve been using OE for many years and have never, never had a problem, even with compacting. I’ve tried Outlook (too much industrial/ business stuff to wade thru) and Thunderbird (too confusing), and several others. Nothing is as easy and forgiving as OE — I’ll continue to use it and XP as long as they continue to exist…!

  17. Leo,

    Have to agree with your other correspondents – OE for me has always been “the best”. I collect mail from several servers and it has always been the easiest thing to set up new accounts and manage mail folders. Backup I do via a simple batch file.

    My only complaint about OE is that it does not allow the mail store to be on another machine (server), it has to be on the machine running OE.

    I will try Thunderbird on your recommendation.



  18. Gates and the rest of the bad boys need a spanking…….(to say the least).

    Leo, you are remiss for not at least giving and earful of the truth.

    OE is the best E Mail program out there. With reasonable support it could have continued and the problems resolved. Yes, there were some, as in most all software.

    I think the $$$ for Microsoft equation worked against us.

  19. Tbird is the best IMHO.
    It now uses (since Tbird 3) a wizard to help setup email accounts.

    The wizard, by default will setup Gmail accounts to use IMAP but you can easily change to POP3 if that’s what you want.
    It also get the server addresses wrong for Gmail if you choose to setup POP3 instead of IMAP.
    The correct server info is incoming and outgoing.

    For most other accounts the wizard is right on.
    This includes Hotmail.

    Tbird is as Leo says actively being developed and updated.

    There scores of addons available.
    I find the remove duplicate email, contacts sidebar and mail tweak to be most useful addons for me.

    A calendar addon is also available as well as different skinsthemes.

  20. I’ve used OE for ten years to access 28 email accounts and automatically directing incoming email to separate folders. It essentially served as a database for a lot of my activity.

    OE could have used a few simple improvements in making it user-goof-proof and user-friendly in setting up additional email accounts with similar settings from an established account with the same ISP.

    Overall, nothing beats the simplicity of Outlook Express. Microsoft’s suggestion that I use Windows Live Mail is absolutely nuts; it takes about 30 seconds on a new notebook using a WiFi-N connection to bring it up. The interface is rather clunky, and the screen has a bunch of graphic clutter and distractions that impeded productivity. Add to it the fact that Hotmail has LOST ALL OF MY STORED EMAIL SEVERAL TIMES.

    I have tried Thunderbird, and can figure out where you are coming from in claiming that it is a reliable substitute for Outlook Express. It could not handle multiple identities like my OE setup.

    Outlook 2010 is a bloated abomination. In OE, I clicked once to check either one or all 28 accounts.

    In Outlook, I need no fewer than four clicks to check on one account, or go through a mult-layered menu system to setup my emails.

    Also, valuable screen space is wasted with bloated tabbed toolbars that I can’t seem to minimize or thin out unneeded commands. Outlook 2010 is nearly worthless on a netbook with a small screen. Hitting F11 doesn’t help a bit since O-2010 is already full screen with clutter.

    O-2010 gives me the impression that I’m carrying a 100-pound swiss army knife with a million utensils that I will never use. It takes too long for it to set up for use and has too damn many functions that I will never use.

    There might be some hope for Eudora, which you didn’t mention as an alternative. However, I see two distinct versions online and can’t figure out who supports it. It seems that Qualcomm let it go.

    I really hate that MS has abandoned Outlook Express. What’s next for Microsoft… what could it do to make my computer more bloated and useless for basic functions? I think I’ll stay on XP and OE for as long as possible.

  21. I LOVE Thunderbird! Switched to it years ago after OE ‘lost’ most of my emails ! If I recall, I found it very easy to set up. I think once I told it what I wanted to import it grabbed the settings and whatever folders and email I had left from OE and put them into Thunderbird. I can color code email and the search functions let me find nearly ANYTHING easily.

    Backing up IE was always a huge pain. MozBackup #also free# makes keeping email back ups easy. Can’t say enough good things about it.


  22. OE is very stable and works very well. Perhaps
    Leo and user’s should understand that it has some limitations. The max file size for OE is just under 2 GB. With that said if you compact the files and you loose emails the file was bigger than the limit. However your emails are not lost!
    OE makes a backup of the file before compacting it. You can find it in the same directory as the rest of your emails, but you will have to use explorer to find. You can rename or delete the .dbx file and rename the (.old or .bak)
    to the deleted name. Then when you re open OE your emails will be there, but you will need to move some of them to a new folder such as Local Folders-(new name). Then try compacting
    with only OE open. I currently recieve about 200 emails a day and have never lost a single one! long live OE, IE6, and Music Match!!!

  23. I agree with most of what you said. But I just loved OE’s simplicity! Now with this cloud thing they’re pushing us to more “live” e-mail clients. Ugh! More than agreed, Matt!

  24. I’ve used OE from day one and never had any problem. Yes it’s basic , but works well for most people. I’ve tried others but always end up back with OE!

  25. I am 73 yrs old i’ve used oe for years never had any problems.Used all the others but not as simple as oe. Why push to get rid of oe when all you have to do is leave it alone and move to one you prefer.

  26. I too am a big fan of OE (Windows Mail on Vista).

    “Magoo’s” description of compacting email folders is precise – very good. I’ve never lost an email either.


    OE has a second trick that I exploit constantly – copying all or some of the content from an IE (all versions) screen and pasting into a blank OE new message, one obtains the generated code.

    Not merely the HTML Source.

    This can be extremely useful for many purposes.

    This doesn’t happen when copying from other browsers.


    Being able to manipulate the Source code in an OE message is a major plus, permitting one to do many things not possible otherwise.

    Certainly, neither of these options is available in Outlook.


    It’s untrue that Windows Mail is not supported. I think I’ve seen one or two things change during the 2 years I’ve had it.

    It could well be true though, that OE is no longer supported.

    Nonetheless, for me, I love them. I use both. I really do not want either to die. I deliberately downloaded a copy of IE6 to ensure I’d have access to a copy.


    By writing small HTML modules and inserting them into Signatures, one may also customise emails extensively. I have: various signatures — instant superscript for ‘st’,’nd’,’rd’ and ‘th’ — instant <nobr></nobr> — tables in a click — text left and right justified automatically inside a <blockquote></blockquote> or centred <table></table> — images together with caption placed on left or right side of the email — plus more . . .

  27. I have been repairing computers for the past 14 years, and have had to fix Outlook Express problems many times. Most of the time, you can recover the missing emails by saving the data files, letting the program create new ones, then import the messages from the saved files.

  28. Leo,
    I have used Outlook Express since my first Windows computer and it’s been flawless! You gave me the path to its dbx files folder sometime ago and now I just copy them to several drives and another computer’s OE6 folder as regular mail backups – which I’ve never had to use, but it’s comforting to know they are there. Actually I lied, I tried Thunderbird (at your suggestion, I’m afraid) and it totally messed-up all the mail. Dragging and dropping all those dbx files from a backup drive put OE6 back to normal quickly-enough, though, and I’ve never been tempted by anything else since. I can also, of course, get the mail back to normal in seconds whenever I do a clean re-install of Windows XP Pro. (Hated Vista and 7, if I wanted something that looked and behaved like nasty old OSX, I’d’ve bought a Mac).
    I have now sorted my entire mail archive into Inbox and Sent folders for each year going back ten and can access them all easily from the drop-down menu as well as searching them individually with Find. This also limits the size of each file.
    I always allow compaction every hundred closures, unless I’m busy, in which case I do a manual one later. This compaction has always worked perfectly and even if it didn’t, I have about seven copies of all the dbx files to restore from.
    If this was a retail mail client, I’d buy it. Why all the hate? – LOL –
    On a more serious note, will I be able to access my archive once I’m dragged kicking and screaming away from my beloved XP? Or, will I be forced to keep an old XP machine running, albeit air-walled from the Net, just for this one application…?

    It depends on how you migrate to whatever email client you choose to use. Most will let you import your email from OE.


  29. I have used OE for 12 years. When this new computer came with Live I begged my computer man to somehow, anyway, get OE BACK! He did. I’m happy again. I have Thunderbird at work. I HAVE to have it at work. I don’t have to have it here. I also use Yahoo and gmail but for my “good” mail, OE all the way!

  30. Although I have officially switched from “Outlook Express” to Thunderbird, I still use OE daily, but in more of a background mode. I write a daily letter that includes a picture or cartoon, some jokes, some quotations, some crazy news stories, and usually a link or two that I’ve found interesting. The distribution list is to only friends and family whom I know and have expressed a desire to continue it. I discovered long ago that it’s far easier to assemble it in “Word” and then send it directly from there. “Word” insists on using OE instead of Thunderbird, so I still have to maintain its address book, although it’s no longer my chosen email client.
    We don’t have a viable alternative to dial-up where we live, so GMail doesn’t work well for us. I transferred to Thunderbird solely because it’s supported, will be upgraded, and could import OE files easily. I do think it’s clunkier to use and my wife downright hates it.

  31. When I bought my new quad core Win7 computer a few months ago, I had hoped to be able to continue using OE but since I’d rather not have to work in the XP emulation mode, I’m using Outlook. Initially the techs had trouble transferring my old OE email.

    Here is the secret. The OE mail must first be moved into Windows Live mail (for which, fortunately, I did have an existing but rarely used account). From there it is easily moved to Outlook. If you have more than one email account going into the OE inbox, each one must be moved separately.

  32. I always sort of liked outlook express-but it would never keep working–I finally dumped it-It’s the real crap-thank you Mr. Gates

  33. What’s wrong with OE?
    I’ve been using OE since at least 1998, and never had a problem. Simple, uncomplicated and does the job. I hate any “cloud based” programmes, and don’t want an email programme that hacks it’s way through all my contacts. All I want is a basic programme that will send & receive my emails & allow me to store them in folders for easy access. I am well aware that it is now a very old programme, but I changed the default dbx folder to a folder called “mail”, which is backed up every day, and up to now I’ve never lost an email (pehaps I’m just lucky)! I also run Mailwasher, so all the crap gets dumped before OE ever sees it.
    I’ll be very sorry to see it go when I’m eventually forced to move on from XP.
    Totally agree with Thamesbear!

  34. I had to downgrade my new laptop from 64-bit Windows 7 to old reliable Windows XP, mainly because XP supports Outlook Express, even though I had already wasted almost $100 to upgrade to the Professional edition of Windows 7 so that I could use Virtual XP.

    I have tried all the email programs that Leo mentioned and quite a few more, and found all of them inadequate.

    Advantages of Outlook Express over Live Mail and Thunderbird:

    (1) Clean interface. Not a lot of useless clutter that wastes screen space.

    (2) Speed. Outlook Express can download mail messages faster than any of the others. Don’t take my word for it; compare them yourself. (Outlook Express’s compression algorithm may be the reason; I don’t really know why.)

    (3) The “identities” feature. It’s important for me to keep separate spaces for different e-mail accounts. I want mail that’s directed to my business address to be kept separate from mail to my personal address. And I’d like them to be password protected if necessary.

    (4) Ease of use. Setting up new folders and message filters with OE is fast and easy. And it’s not hard to transfer them from computer to computer. You can’t say that about the other programs.

    (5) Safety. I save many of my e-mail messages and contacts and don’t want to take a chance of losing them. I just checked and noticed that my oldest saved message was dated April 1, 1998, and I’ve never lost a contact’s address. Can any users of the other programs claim such longevity? Of course not, because they didn’t exist in 1998. And I’ve moved my messages and contacts to and from many different computers in those last 13 years. There was never a hitch.

    In upgrading to XP (I know, Microsoft would say I downgraded.), I lost the use of one gig of RAM and the speed of the 64-bit system, but that’s a small price to pay to have an easy-to-use, reliable, e-mail program that has never let me down.

    Suggestion for Windows 7 users who don’t want to go back to XP: You may want to try Incredimail. It was the best one I could find in my research. It’s more user friendly than Thunderbird, but just as slow on downloads. And like Thunderbird and Windows Live Mail, it requires a large screen. None of the newer programs with their useless monster-size toolbars can fit comfortably on a 15-inch or smaller screen.

  35. You missed the mark on this one. If you are having problems with OE, you don’t know how to use it. I have 5 different e-mail accounts and they are delivered to separate folders, spam is filtered out, and my files are easily backed up, and even transferred to other computers, all without a problem. Maybe the problem is that you don’t compress your folders. I have not seen another e-mail program that works as well as Outlook Express, including Outlook. Outlook is cluttered with all the stuff that Microsoft thinks you want. Why don’t they ask before making decisions for me. Just like Bing, it decides what I want, but that is another story.

  36. I don’t waste my time with a email client; I only use web mail.

    Second, if you can only recommend gmail, then you have not tried mail. It is a superior product.

  37. I have an 8 y.o. Dell using XP, and OE6 has always been my default mail program, mostly because it is easy to use and I like to use stationery sometimes. I also have a Yahoo account, a Hotmail account, and 2 gmail accounts. They are all harder to use than OE6. Also, I don’t have the MS Office program–I use Open Office. But my DSL provider is ATT, so my primary email address is blank(at) I can read and send mail in Yahoo if I sign out of my other account and sign in with my account and password, since ATT and Yahoo appear to be partnered. I hope that if I should have to get a new computer, my email will still be there at, though I should keep my contact list in a safe place, like hard copy or on a memory “stick.”

  38. I took your advice and changed from Outlook Express. I got my Office 97 CD and changed to Outlook. Unfortunately, after several hours work, I discovered that Outlook doesn’t allow HTML email messages, ( maybe its because it’s office 97?) so I had to change back.

    Outlook most certainly does allow for HTML – I’m certain that the ’97 version did, but of course current ones do.


  39. The last couple of weeks you have completely trashed Bitlocker, Hotmail, and now Outlook Express.

    Going forward please refer to your own advice:

    “I rarely make negative comments about specific programs or products. I prefer instead to present a more positive view on the products that I like and recommend rather than saying bad things about the products I don’t.”

    I think “completely trashed” is a bit of an over-reaction, but to be clear: “rarely” doesn’t mean “never”. I only take these positions when I honestly beleive that my readers are placing themselves or their data at risk by continuing to use, or use improperly, specific technologies. To varying degrees BitLocker, Hotmail and Outlook Express all fall into that category in my opinion. Used improperly people are putting their data at risk of loss. I’m sure my negative comments cover more than just those 3, but over 7 and a half years it doesn’t seem like too horrible a track record.

  40. I continue to use OE because I do a lot of Word e-mail merge and it doesn’t work with Thunderbird.

    I have moved the storage to a new directory which is part of my nightly backup.

    I use gmail so if need be I can retrieve old mail from the site (often comes in handy).

    And mainly, I’m used to it. Staying with XP for now because of legacy programs etc that don’t seem to work with Window 7.

  41. I had thought about this awhile ago, wondering if the OE was actually stolen , but they missed or forgot to grab the repair manuals……Ex OE user

  42. If I took your advice, and installed Thuderbird on my WinXP Pro SP3 machine, how would I move all the stored emails in OE to Thunderbird before (theoretically) axing the OE6???
    Please be specific or it’s not worth attempting such a major project.

    The Mozilla site has an article: Import from Outlook Express


  43. BTW:
    I also have IE6 which I keep as up to date as possible, but rarely use it (Firefox4 is default currently) as I hate what IE 7, 8 or whatever does to my system even more.

  44. I’m totally satisfied with OE, and have no interest in fooling with anything else. I don’t understand your hate campaign.

  45. Of course I have to join the chorus of folks who like O-E. I’m a technician and have quite a few customer’s who use O-E without issue. Myself included – since 1998.

    There is no easy path to move both addresses and mail to newer clients. And yes, I know all about converters, csv files, and such things.

    Windows Mail, live mail, thunderbird, are all poor substitutes that I can’t stand.
    That’s my 2 cents, Packrat1947

  46. I used Outlook Express for years without problems in WIN XP Home. I got a new computer with WIN 7 and wanted to use Outlook, but despite all the efforts, couldn’t get it to work, so I am stuck with Live Mail, a poor substitute for either OE or Outlook.

  47. One of the best email systems not mention is Incredimail a great program and I have never had a problem with it yes you have to pay for the professional software to get all the bits and bobs but its a one of payment and well worth it and importnatly its very easy to use.

  48. You have just ruined my day! I have used Outlook Express now for over ten years and have never had a problem. I changed from Outlook because I don’t want all those stupid bells and whistles and formats I don’t like; Outlook Express is basic, simple and does the job I want not the job the software companies have decided I need to do. However I will have to update my hardware soon, it is getting very old, and so XP will be gone and I will have to deal with the inadequacies of Windows 7 and a new address book which probably won’t format addresses how I like them but makes cappuccino every third Thursday! Life sucks!

  49. Yes, yes, yes. The worst part is not that people using OE don’t receive E-mails, it is that they cannot receive attachments if OE is not used by the sender. Furthermore, many people using OE have Outlook on their computer and don’t know it.

  50. I’ve used OE for at least ten years and have gone through a couple of times where everything or most of everything simply disappeared. I figured it was something I was doing wrong because I have a tendency to leave too many emails in the inbox. Lately I’ve just been using Comcast’s email site and don’t like it nearly as well, but at least things don’t disappear on me. I tried Thunderbird, but couldn’t figure out how to set it up. I could receive mail, but not send it. Right now I’m on my Apple, so there’s no problem, but I don’t like their email program much. When you delete a message there, it leaves it on the sender, so there’s a duplication of effort. Same thing for the ipad. I’m just not sure what to do, except maybe get more organized and put important emails in “my documents” on my pc, so I won’t lose them. Any suggestions out there?


  51. I miss OE…MS Live Mail is a very poor substitute. It is clunky, hard to organize and did a very poor job when I imported emails from an OE backup. Leo, you may blame OE for this problem, but I do not. I have a separate program which has unfailingly backed up all my OE mail files and rexported them to OE without a hitch. I wish MS would stop forcing us to use its subversive overture to Hotmail and reintroduce OE. BTW, I also have a GMAIL address which I now tend to use more often than LM. It allows me to bring in all my separate email addresses (admittedly as does LM), but without the kludginess. Come on MS, let’s go back to the future and bring back OE.


  52. I am really offended by your comment on Outlook Express. I have been using it for 10 years and it has been nothing short of great! I have been a part of Yahoo groups for all of the above 10 years which has meant a large volume of emails per day, almost without exception these have had attachments. During the afformentioned period I have discovered the pleasure of creating email stationary and learning how to script my stationary to do some pretty cool stuff.

    My comments aren’t intended to offend, and I don’t see why they should. My opinion is based on the experience I have seeing people lose their email on a regular basis simply because of Outlook Express, and knowing that there are no more updates coming for it to fix any of the problems it has. My opinion is meant simply to warn people that I honestly believe continuing to use Outlook Express is putting your email at a level of risk that is both unnecessary, give the many alternatives, and while I consider unacceptable.


  53. I have been using Outlook Express for over 10 years and, though I have installed and used other mail clients, none have come close to the ease of use and stability it has provided for me. It is the main reason I stubbornly cling to my 2004 XP Media Center. I have always been able to send and receive email and attachments with anyone no matter which client they use. Frankly, when I’m forced to upgrade my OS I don’t know how I’ll manage without it.

  54. I have used Outlook Express for many, many years and not once have I had a problem with it. Wish they would bring it back. I haven’t found an email program that measures up to OE because there isn’t any.

  55. I abandoned OE years ago when I got my first copy of MS Office and started using Outlook. It is still the benchmark for organizing and handling emails, contacts and calendaring events. I have tried Thunderbird, and Evolution that profess to be replacements (enhancements?) to Outlook but always come back. OE was basic, meant to be basic and Live Mail appears to be the same. If folks can’t afford or don’t want to pay for a complete email client, then Thunderbird is likely the best alternative.

  56. Couldn’t disagree more. I used OE for years on a variety of machines and never once lost any thing. I used multiple email accounts easily and distributing emails to specific folders was a dream. I’ve been using Live Mail for a year and don’t really like it. Tried Thunderbird twice and that was even worse. I’d take back OE in a heartbeat.

  57. I fully agree with all the comment above. I have used OE since I started using a Computer. Never had a problem or lost emails. I use since a long time “Mailwasher Pro 2011”, before I use OE. It get rid of all the rubbish.

  58. I believe that at present there are significant unresolved problems with MS Live Mail 2011 in terms of not filtering out spam when the e-mail account is on a POP3 server.

    Thunderbird works better, but I find gmail the best filtering spam, working natively on the Google site.

  59. I agree with all the above posters re: not losing mail. What you do NOT want to do is migrate your email to a different machine without first compacting the folders. In that case, you will only get what was written to the hard drive last time you did the compaction. There are a couple drawbacks not mentioned 1) if you have a ton of images and other disk space-hogging stuff in your folders it can take for-E-ver to get the compaction done and 2) you need to shut off auto-send/receive until the compaction is finished or it will hang up. I have moved to Outlook at work and at home of necessity since I moved to Win7, but OE worked fine for me all the years I used it – as long as I respected its internal limitations.

  60. I disagree. Outlook Express is ideal for reading newsgroups, so what are you suggesting should replace it for this purpose? Outlook itself is no use.

    Thunderbird works well for newsgroups. There are also lots of newsreaders that are actively supported and updated, unlike Outlook Express.


  61. I used TBird when it first came out, then ended with Yahoo as an ISP and found the two incompatible. Your article prompted me to try again, so I installed TBird and got the same results. With my Yahoo email address, the server’ will not permit access to this service’ or words to that effect. TBird reminded how good an email application could be, but I’m not ready to rush headlong into changing to a new email address for everything and everybody all at once.
    Is there a way to make TBird and Yahoo Email compatible or, alternately, change to a new email address and drag out the process of moving completely to it?

    Yahoo requires that you purchase their “Plus” option to make POP3/SMTP servers available that Thunderbird can use. Alternately both Gmail and Hotmail make those available for free.


  62. I use Outlook Express and it works very well for me. I don’t ever have any problems with it. As far as updates go ,I don’t require them as it works just fine as is. I use it to recieve email from others and to send email only.I Keep what I want to save in folders. What more do you need in a email program.If and when I get a new computer I will go with Windows Live probably as that is whats coming with new computers now you buy, since I won’t be able to get Outlook Express as I understand it.

  63. The one thing that really bothers me about WLM?

    Why can’t it just give me the ENVELOPE ICON while in the background?

    Oh and two really…let it work more quickly like OE!

    If you tell me it’s supposed to be the same program routine I simply cannot believe that. No matter what is ‘wrong’ with OE 6 the only one you can really come up with is that it’s part of IE6.

    I don’t care if I can view links, video etc in a preview, quite honestly I could care less and ‘social networking’ is a hazardous pile of muck to me.

    Nope, just simple email, that’s all I want.

    Thank you.

  64. Funny, that people reacted so negatively to your indication against Outlook Express. Obviously free speech has it’s limitation. So, I absolutely agree with your view of OE. Just try it with my slow third world internet, it does not work at all.
    I would like to add another alternative programm, I have been using incredimail for many years now, and it is really a very smart solution for many problems even in its free version.

    I personally dislike Incredimail for a couple of reasons. I do see a fair number of problems, but more than anything is that it’s purpose seems to be to allow and even encourage people to create email that is 99% fluff and distracting pictures and graphics in which their actual message is often lost.

  65. I am intrigued by your claim that changing the e-mail client is difficult.
    I am an old man, not particularly computer savvy, but changing from Outlook Express to Windows Live Mail when I changed the box was a simple as 1-2-3.
    1. On my original win2k I had the Outlook Express mail folder on partition D, to avoid losing my mail each time I restored image of Win on C, a surprisingly frequent event.
    2. I copied the whole D partition to the new Win7 box.
    3. I started the Win Live Mail, figured out how to tell it where the mail folder is on partition D (I cannot remember the exact steps now but it took me just a few minutes, so it could not have been all that hard) and everything I had on the Outlook Express was instantly available in Win Live Mail.
    What on earth was difficult about this?

  66. I didn’t realise there were so many problems with Outlook Express! I have my own problems, mainly sending emails (won’t send half the time) and think it’s time for a change.

    What is the best and safest way to keep all my old emails and transfer them to a new programme?

    Thank you

    With most programs simply install the new email program and select “Import”, choosing Outlook Express as the source to import from. Windows Live Mail works this way, as does Outlook and Thunderbird.

  67. Sorry Leo but when it comes to OE, I have not found anything better. I happen to be one who likes to add some stationery once in a while and none of the others seem to be able to do it.

    I don’t like the folder list filling up the left side of the screen. OE lets you bring it up when you need to change folders. I don’t think you have used OE or else you would know how nice it is. I do agree with you on incredimail. I don’t like it too much as well. It is a little better than Live mail but anything is better that Live Mail. Thunderbird is almost as bad. Very plain. I like to get fancy once in a while. When I see an OE for Win7 then I might change to Win7. Right now there is not too much I can not do with WinXP that can be done with Win7. At least what I want to do with a computer.

    For the record I have used Outlook Express extensively, and my wife ran it for many years. I much prefer Thunderbird, and she’s moved on to Microsoft Office Outlook. While many people like Outlook Express there’s no getting around that a) it’s no longer supported, b) it will not be made available for Windows Vista, 7 or 8 and c) I still see more lost email due to Outlook Express problems than any other email program.

  68. Dear Leo
    I understand your arguments, but have done a very careful side by side comparison between OE and Thunderbird. OE is considerably faster opening up.
    OE is considerably faster downloading inbox mail.
    In six years, I have never had a problem using OE. No lost mail. All mail is backed up on a Seagate FreeAgent GO drive (your recommendation). I average 45-50 incoming emails daily and send perhaps 3-4 with attachments daily. I have no quarrel with Thunderbird, but it is slower than OE. I don’t have numerical comparisons, but the differences are obvious. Since I am running both, I have to download both and have decided not to continue Thunderbird.
    Thought you might like to know.
    System placed in service Sept 2005 and still going strong… Dell Dimension 4700 XPPro SP3 1.5 GB Ram Reboot about twice a month. Use Photoshop extensively. Hard drive is 2/3 full and has been running continuously. I do not shut down at night.
    R J Reynolds
    Internet is zippy with Firefox 7.0.1

  69. I am still a contented user of Outlook Express – it has never done anything bad to me. I set it up originally years ago with my dial-up ISP with their email address. I now use a different ISP with the original email address. I downloaded and installed Thunderbird on to a Windows 7 laptop and tried to set it up. My mail IN setup was no problem. I did not succeed in getting mail OUT because it goes through the different ISP server (my current ISP) and I could not see a way to put the required parameters – username, password, into the program. If OE is due to die than I need someone to help me out of this setup problem.

  70. “I am still a contented user of Outlook Express – it has never done anything bad to me. I set it up originally years ago with my dial-up ISP with their email address.”
    Amen. My cousin made my old OE work in Win7. I’ll use it until I die. I have Thunderbird at work. I have a gmail and a yahoo. Still prefer OE.

  71. I use Windows Live Mail, it works okay.

    I like to send clean emails.

    When I need to forward an email that has the vertial lines, l use OE with it’s source code to remove them. (The blockquotes)

    I don’t know any others that allow me to do this.

    As long as I can use OE I will do so.

  72. Well Leo, I have read about 5 or 6 comments and no one agrees with you on OE. You may add me to that also. I have been using a computer since 1983. When I went to Windows 95 and then to 98, I started using Juno and their Email program and in 2000 I changed over to XP and OE and broadband I have never had a problem with OE. I have never lost any Emails. As one of them said, until Microsoft comes up with an OE look-alike I will not change.. If Microsoft wants me to change then they need to have a good Email program and not that Live Mail junk. I did try Thunderbird and it is junk also. Too limiting. I had too many problems with it. OE may not be supported by Microsoft anymore but it is still better than anything out there. Sorry Leo but you are wrong this time. I would like to know how Toni’s cousin got her OE to work with Win7.

  73. I also wish they had just improved Outlook Express but since they did not, I got Windows Live Mail and have disliked it very much from the start. Many, many problems. Should have gone Thunderbird.

  74. Leo, I just read 8 pages of comments supporting OE and wanted to add mine. A year ago I bought a new windows 7 computer and tried the live email. I hated it. I had an extra hard drive and an unused copy of XP so I went back to XP and OE in the new computer and I will use this as long as I can. I hope someone develops a good alternative to OE soon. There seems to be a huge demand for it. Or this just may be what kills email completely. I have noticed a lot of my friends not using their computers or email anymore. They use their smart phones and Facebook for their daily fix instead of email. I predict that it won’t be long before home computers go the way of CB radios.

  75. I did a bit of research and i’m on Leo side. I think Outlook is out of grip. I upgraded all pc’s to later models(naturaly required renewal) and none of them has Outlook which yes, is available separately to purchase. My website does takes orders and i do managing them while i’m sitting in traffic in my car. I use gmail. Anywhere and anytime…The only sad side is that i had to discard my info@ address but that sadness lasted …1minute:)

  76. I disagree with you about OE> I love it. I tried using Yahoo Mail and Thunderbird and hated both of them. OE is so simple and easy to use. I have been using it since 2006 and I have WindowsXP. I have NEVER lost an email.

  77. Yes, I too LOVE OE. Can do many creative things in OE emails that are not possible in other emails; at least I’ve not found any up to now. Will really miss it when I HAVE to upgrade.

  78. In my experience the only time OE loses mail or plays up is if you allow a build up of mail in the one identity to it’s 2GB capacity.
    If one wishes to archive that excess mail it’s just a matter of navigating to & clearing OE’s DBX folders after saving copies outside of OE’s system folders.

    My Wife & I have both abandoned W7 on our PCs & gone back to XP due to our desire to retain OE as it is the only simple & reliable email program we’ve found that allows for multiple separate identities.
    Yes Incredimail does also but it is far too system intrusive as well as buggy & seems to have a new release (incompatible with earlier versions) almost weekly.

    Receiving over 300 daily emails between us we use POP/SMTP delivery from Gmail, Yahoo Mail & Hotmail to our multiple OE Identities & find Gmail best followed by Yahoo with Hotmail a poor 3rd, often failing to deliver all it’s mail.

    The course M$ seems to be taking will probably see us eventually switching to Linux & Thunderbird upon the demise of XP.

  79. I agree with the previous contributer. I have had no problem with OE for 10 years or more. Thunderbird is a useful alternative for use with Win 7 but suffers from too much space taken up with heading and associated information leaving a minimum space for the message. I expect that could be reduced by adjustment if one could find out how, whereas there is no such problem in OE.
    The point about overloading the message files is interesting and I will continue to divide my boxes into small categories of, say, 500 e-mail messages max.

  80. I agree with your view, Leo. “Outlook Express must die”

    But you wrote to tell us what we must do. However you didn’t tell us how to KILL Outlook Express in this article.

    In XP, I followed some complicated step-by-step procedure (very badly written on a Monday morning by M$) It ended up with some annoying message at power up (approximate as follows):

    “Windows addressbook not found. OE is not configured correctly. Please reinstall”

    This damn thing is very hard to kill in an easy way ! It can’t be un-installed and was not designed to be uninstalled. ! Well, that’s just M$ !

    So just leave it there, let it take some unused space from your hard drive, rather than attempting this long complicated procedure (deletes, renamings, registry cleanups) … unless you might know a miraculous Fixit or script, taking care of killing OE, to be sure it is dead, and REALLY dead !

    It will call you once in a while, for it still wants to compact your messages. But as written already, DO NOT COMPACT.

  81. @GVH
    It’s not possible to uninstall OE from the normal Add or Remove Programs window. If you delete the folder, it comes back. But you can go to Add or Remove programs and click on the Add/Remove Windows Components icon on the left of the screen you can uncheck the Outlook Express button and disable OE.

  82. I’m a real Outlook Express die-hard, I’m afraid, and although there have been problems, mostly with huge modern inboxes which must go far beyond the original expected use, it has generally held up very well for a program which hasn’t been updated in ten years. I have generally managed to recover lost emails with special programs provided, as Leo says, the dbx folder has not been compacted; for backup I also set the program not to delete messages from the server until the deleted items folder is emptied. I still have XP, so getting OE is not a problem, but for people with Vista I believe it can be obtained (much against your good advice, Leo – sorry!) by uninstalling Internet Explorer, reinstalling Internet Explorer 6 (widely available) and then updating Internet Explorer – Outlook Express will remain. I don’t know if Internet Explorer 6 can in any way (eg by getting the stand alone version and using compatability mode) be installed on Windows 7 or 8; it would be an interesting challenge to try.

  83. Outlook Express has one of the sharpest layouts I’ve ever seen. Even the pair of glasses and pen and the gold-tan against black is sharp. From an aesthetic viewpoint it gets an A plus, so why shouldn’t some enterprising programmer offer a do-it-yourself suggestion kit to download and install which would help rescue this faithful program? Like the other guy said it has multiple identity feature and other good, usable tools, and you can drag and drop the tools icons on the menu there. A programmer might have to include the text that Microsoft has discouraged the use of Outlook Express and no longer supports it, etc., and ask for donations. Heck I gave 5 bucks to Pegasus once, why not kick in for an addon type ‘enhancement’ for this good old workhorse?!

  84. @Michael
    Interesting link. I’m sure a lot of OE diehards will go for it. I just want to warn anybody that tries this that, it’s at your own risk. It might be great, but experimenting with any unknown program bears some risk.

  85. I came across your article whilst researching lost emails in the inbox, but ironically enough I was researching it for Thunderbird. To explain, I currently use thunderbird version which is about 4 years old. The reason I never upgraded was because ver 3.x I just disliked so much. However, I was looking at the latest version 17, with the intention of transferring my clients from outlook which is overkill for their needs to a simpler to troubleshoot program like thunderbird. I just felt that my version looks too dated. However, the number one complaint about thunderbird is – lost emails in the newer versions. I have never suffered this, but it was interesting that you recommended thunderbird (and I presume that you use the latest versions), given that the newer versions seem to be no more reliable than outlook express in terms of not losing emails in the inbox. compacting and anti virus programs again seem to be the prime cause of lost email in thunderbird just like outlook express. I hasten to remind you that I personally have never lost any email, but I do use an older version. However, I am tempted to upgrade to version 17, because the interface looks very modern compared to my dated version. Any thoughts on lost emails after compacting in thunderbird for versions newer than 2.x?

  86. Which version of thunderbird is MOST reliable for NOT LOOSING mails pls ?
    I await your answer at the earliest as I have to install the recommended one on Windows 7 at the earliest
    Alternatively, any other more friendly + secured email client ?

  87. @AK Agarwal
    Generally, it’s best to use the latest version of any program, as that would be the version with the most vulnerabilities plugged. I say generally, because in some rare cases, a fix may cause new problems to crop up.

  88. After too much pain, at this late date, I went back to OE AND XP. I’m simply weary of microsoft ‘thinking’ they know what I want. Live mail is an abomination it lives in ‘the cloud’. When I hit the OE icon on my rebuilt (to MY needs thinkpad) it opens in exactly – wait for it – ONE second! Plus, I’ve never lost a single email in all the years. Does anyone remember the days that programs were fast and you didn’t need 4gigs of ram just to read email?

  89. I have used OE for many years, however, I will likely move to T’Bird soon. A question re compacting. At one point when the OE decided to compact it would ask if I wanted to compact yes or no. Somehow a setting has changed and I no longer have that option, when the time comes, it annoyingly starts into compacting. Is there a fix ? Thanks.

  90. I have used Outlook Express since I purchased my first computer in the
    80’s. OE was written for business and Windows Live is for something else that I have not figured out. My beef, when I attempt to send to a host of email addresses Bcc, it refuses and will only send a couple or none at all. I have other beef’s too but will not comment further.

  91. Outlook Express was loved and used by the millions.

    It should be revived, improved and offered either as a free or a paid addition to Windows 8.1!

    Without it the email lives of the millions became much harder, slower and more challenging.

  92. Hello.
    I’ve been using Outlook Express for about 11 years. Here are my requirements for any email client to meet before I will even think about switching to them or Windows 7.
    * Ability to have separate, different identities from the same program, and the ability to switch from one to the other effortlessly. Separate inboxes doesn’t cut it. I’ve got to have the identities. Using identities also makes it quite easy to know which email account the mail is being sent from. OE fulfills this requirement perfectly.
    * Ability to change the email storage folder at will. Also the ability to back that data up with my other documents seemlessly. Outlook Express fulfills this requirement flawlessly. When I get a new instalation of Windows XP, I just change the outlook express storage folder location and there’s all my data.
    * When going through my inbox, I want to see the entire subject line, even if it’s a long subject, not some stinking chopped off preview version. I will not tolerate abridged subject lines! I repeat, I will not tolerate it. Outlook Express shows me everything, just like I want it to.
    * When sending and receiving messages, I need a status window that shows me the amount (in kb), the number of messages to be transferred, and the percentage of completion of the operation. Outlook Express does this perfectly and by the way, works just fine on my third-world connection with speeds comparable to dial-up many times.
    So, technology world, it’s entirely up to you. Until you give us an email client that’s simple and performs all these functions, Outlook Express won’t die on any of my three windows XP systems.
    While I’m on the subject, let me tell you that I’m a medical transcriptionist using Windows XP. How do you “experts” like that? I laugh to see you shaking in fear.

    • It would be good to add one more, very important, criteria to your big list – That the email client not be prone to sudden crashes that lose all your data – in a way that is unrecoverable.

      The big problem with Outlook Express is that it has a limit to the size of it’s own data file. So it’s very deceptive. It goes along fine and then all the sudden -flash!- everything is gone. Do you really want to risk that?

  93. Connie,
    Fortunately, that nightmare scenario has never happened to me. At present, OE’s total data on disk (everything) would need to be 51.41 times its current size to reach that 2 GB threshold, and it’s my understanding that the 2 gb limit only applies to individual folders. Yes, that’s a risk I want to take.
    If anybody finds a replacement email client that fulfills all the above-stated requirements, please post here. Very likely there is one out there and I just wasn’t able to find it in my weeks of research.

      • The 2 gb limit applies to .dbx not identities. eg. 2015a.dbx is full, all I need to do is to create 2015b.dbx and redirect the mail to it.

  94. I use XP Pro along with OE6 as my email client. I have been meaning to get my new computer and all contents taken off the hard drive on this system & uploaded to the new one asap. Wish I had done it sooner as I had tried logging into my OE 6 to check my emails earlier when that 0X80070000E message popped up saying “Outlook could not be started…..etc.” So am I to assume I lost ALL my previous emails? I found AskLeo via a search for Microsoft support, only to realize it is no longer available for my operating system…..ugh. So I do have the ability of getting my future business emails through my webmail login….which I have not done yet . . . .however, I hope I did not lose any of my previous emails, or did I? I dread the response to this. If anyone can recommend a potential “fix” by doing something on my system, please advise, or is there an actual site users of XP Pro can go to? I know I kept procrastinating with this computer and promised myself I’d get a new machine with Windows8.1 (which offers a free upgrade to version 10 soon) but should have done it sooner. I wonder if my webhost has the previous emails on THEIR server? I also use iDrive for my backups but am nervous right now. Any insights would be appreciated. Thank you

  95. The only reason you must move away is simply because it’s outdated. To say “must die” is ridiculous, ideally it should stay alive for a lot longer! I agree you should move away but that’s imply because you can’t use it on anything later than Windows XP, but it’s a terrible shame they got rid of it.

    Thunderbird is rubbish. It’s buggy, makes a mess of formatting emails, and misses some fairly basic options.

    Windows Live Mail is extremely cut down on functionality compared to OE, and not as nice to use.

    Microsoft Outlook is a real “heavyweight”. In comparison it takes a long time to load and gobbles up RAM. If you want full functionality such as calendar tasks etc, usually in business, then yes use full Outlook. But if you want a basic, lightweight email app simply for sending and receiving mail then Outlook is really overkill and uses way more system resources than you need.

    Gmail is not an alternative. It’s a web service, not an email program. If you’re out and about on your laptop you can’t browse through your existing emails because they’re not there. You can’t compare a service to local storage. It’s also a lot more bandwidth intensive if you’re on a slow connection, and a little more resource intensive.

    The fact is that unfortunately there are no replacements for OE. It might be old, but it was the best at what it did, and nothing has superseded it. You can do it differently but not directly better. For a small lightweight email app, it was perfect, and it’s a terrible shame MS abandoned it.

    The up and coming “oeclassic” looks promising, but that’s if the devs stick with it long enough to finish it – there’s still a way to go. It doesn’t even support IMAP yet.

  96. When my Windows XP HDD died, and I bought a new computer, it was loaded with Windows 7. Tragic mistake, because my backup contained hundreds of important Outlook Express emails and–more important, addresses–that I cannot recover.

    What, if any, are my alternatives to recovering them?

    • If you have Windows 7 Pro or better you can run XP mode which contains a copy of Outlook Express preinstalled. Or you can look for someone who still has an XP machine to open and save those files.

  97. So Leo….here’s a big question I didn’t see answered yet regarding migrating from OE to, say, Thunderbird.

    I know you use “import” as the function to import the emails, etc. from OE. But will the structured file heirarchy I have created over many years in OE be transferred as is into TBird? Is there a way to do this, rather than have all “files” just migrate in and then having to spend months trying to re-sort them into the various folders?


      • OK, but in my case I want to move from OUTLOOK EXPRESS to THUNDERBIRD, so is there a specific way to do that and preserve the folder structuring? Your answer gets into Outlook and IMAP, but I work from a POP3 server platform. Thanks.

        • You can set up your email account a second time as IMAP within Outlook Express. Then copy all of the emails from the POP3 version into their corresponding folders in the IMAP account. You can select all of the emails in the account by clicking on the first email in the folede and scrolling down to the last on and shift clicking on the last email. Then you can either drag and drop them to the new folder of copy and past them.

          • I’ll give that a try thanks. I plan to use POP3 in the end but it appears you have to transfer them in first as IMAP, from what you’re saying…

          • IMAP is the easiest way to upload emails back to the server. In fact, you can use IMAP to transfer your emails from one email service provider to another. For example, you can even move or copy emails from Yahoo mail to Gmail. That’s an easy way to back up emails.

      • Leo:

        All the best in 2017 to you and those dearest to you.

        When you have time, something I’ve always meant to ask you and it may be relevant to this thread’s content as well….

        Bell continues to raise internet rates astronomically in Canada. Their typical platform for e-mail is “” and/or “”. There are a number of reliable alternatives to using Bell as an ISP provider, but I have hesitated to move because it is my understanding (perhaps incorrectly) that if I do (according to Bell telling me such), I will not receive any emails that continue to come to my “sympatico” addresses after I migrate to another.

        Of course, when you register email addresses with dozens of institutions for regular contact info, bills, etc. the risk of not receiving them and being charged “penalties” is real. It would appear to me you would have to first figure out all the places you have an email contact address registered with, and then contact all of them to let them know of a “new” address once you move to another provider.

        Any assistance you can offer in this regard, especially if I’m misinformed, is welcome. I would think you ought to be able to have old addresses “forwarded” to a new e-mail once established, for a month or so; but Bell says they can’t do that (maybe more, won’t do it). I’m now starting to keep a list of e-mails received so I can manually let them all know if/when that change happens.

        It’s bad enough to have to notify all your world contacts over the years of a change, hoping not to miss anyone. But Bell doesn’t make it any easier. (They’re planning on increasing all internet by $5/mth in a month or so, and that’s up from what is now $65.95/mth for limited Gb and a 10Mbps download speed. We also then have 13% tax on those rates)!

        All the best, thanks.

        • That’s the problem with ISP supplied email address. They have you over a barrel. I tend to believe it’s more a question of cwon’t rather than can’t. One small local ISP I once had allowed me to keep my email address for several months after I stopped with them.

          One method that should work is to get a new GMail or other address and inform every one of your contacts and companies of the change, but stay with Bell until you are sure all of your important emails are now coming to your new email address. This might take some months or even up to a year, but the cost will likely be less than losing important emails.

        • Ultimately your analysis is quite correct. If you’re using an email address provided by your ISP then when you leave that ISP you lose your email address. Period.

          This is why so many people use services like Gmail,, Yahoo Mail and others – email addresses that are independent of how you connect to the internet.

          • Thanks to you both, and if you happen to know: does Gmail allow you more than one email address? I’ve also considered Thunderbird after reading Leo’s reports on it in the past. (Thus, my previous query in this thread about migrating from Outlook EXPRESS to Thunderbird, and hoping to keep the heirarchy of the folders from OE when moving to a different platform, which Leo states should be preserved).

            Mark — I feel like a dummy; didn’t think about establishing a new one FIRST and then leaving the other. Thanks! I have to get this changeover in the new year as a priority, this year.

          • No problem. It’s questions that help keep us going. Gmail allows 1 email address per account, but you can open as many separate accounts that you want. You can even have one account retrieve the emails from up to about 4 accounts, so if you chain them, you can link as many accounts as you need.

  98. One feature of OE worth mentioning that I’ve never seen discussed here or anywhere else is that backup copies of all OE folders are saved in the Recycle bin each time one runs “Compact all folders”. Depending on OE folder sizes and the size setting of the Recycle bin, one can have backup files for multiple rounds of compaction cycles sitting quietly in the Recycle bin, without having to do specific short term backups. Add the Gmail fetch function to store further backup copies of at least all Inbox emails (again depending on one’s settings) in the cloud, and one is fairly well protected for very little effort. Like others here, I’ve tried them
    all, and have always come back to OE. Despite some design weaknesses, there are many sometimes almost hidden features already listed above that are simply not offered in other email programs.

  99. New computer with Windows 10 and Outlook from old computer with Windows XP and Outlook Express. After the transfer, the emails that I had sent prior and had put in individual folders now are listed as if I sent them on the day of the transfer. Is there any way to get them to appear on the day they were actually sent? By the way, if I put them back in the sent folder, they are back to listed on the date they were actually sent.

  100. Hi, Team Leo!

    Here it is in late 2017 and I’m still using Outlook Express, having cloned my HD and XP OS several times when buying new boxes. Maybe I’m trying to set some record by being the oldest goofball to still use OE.

  101. I’m still using XP and OE. I need it for the ability to have multiple identities to keep my emails, address books, folders completely separate. I use MS Outlook for two work emails but do not want my other five emails coming into that program. OE has worked great for me since my first computer, I hate webmail and barely tolerate using Android and iOS mail clients when traveling. I have not lost any emails or had any problems over the years. Outlook is way too cumbersome and I don’t need all the business functions for my other emails. OE does exactly what I need it to do!

    • Considering the fragility of Outlook Express files, I’d switch to Thunderbird. I used to use OE when it was current and I did find it very user-friendly and had all the features I needed. I switched to Thunderbird which is a bit more difficult to set uo accounts on but once set up is very easy to use.

    • Considering the fragility of Outlook Express files, I’d switch to Thunderbird. I used to use OE when it was current and I did find it very user-friendly and had all the features I needed. I switched to Thunderbird which is a bit more difficult to set up accounts on but once set up is very easy to use.

  102. Yet, the article doesn’t even mention the most important replacement which is OE Classic and can’t even be considered new at this point, but doesn’t even mention that Windows Live Mail is also discontinued.

    • I’ve looked at OE Classic, and while it’s a fine email program, it’s … just another email program, in my eyes. It doesn’t really do what most people want which is duplicate the Outlook Express experience as closely as possible.

      Most all the Microsoft email programs that at one point came with Windows are discontinued, or likely doomed. That’s why I recommend any other desktop email program you care to use: Thunderbird, emClient, and yes, OE Classic.


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