The 10 biggest annoyances in Outlook

We show you how to get round them

5. Outlook crashes constantly

Sometimes it seems as if Outlook crashes more than it actually runs. Didn't anyone tell Microsoft that the point of an email program is to get email - not to turn belly-up every other time you open it?

We can't offer fixes for every Outlook crash, but we can address what is most likely the primary cause of problems - add-ins. Some Outlook add-ins will crash the program on their own, and others will crash Outlook when they're installed in concert with other add-ins. So your best bet for stopping crashes is to first figure out which Outlook add-in or add-ins might be causing the crashes and then delete them.

One good way to find out if add-ins are the culprit of crashes is to first run Outlook in safe mode and see if it crashes. Safe mode disables all add-ins, so if you run it in safe mode and it still crashes, add-ins aren't the cause of your problems. Conversely, if you run it in safe mode and it doesn't crash, then an add-in is likely the cause and you're then free to go through the steps I outline below for finding the culprit.

Run Outlook in safe mode by going to a command prompt, navigating to the directory that contains Outlook.exe (most likely C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\) and typing this command 'Outlook.exe /safe'. That runs Outlook without any add-ins. If it doesn't crash, then add-ins are your problem.

Here's how to find exactly which program is the problem. Start by discovering which add-ins you have installed. Select 'Tools' and then 'Trust Center' and click the 'Add-ins' button.

Add_in_screen

You'll see add-ins organised into three categories: those that are currently active, those that are installed but aren't currently active, and those that are installed but have been disabled by Outlook because they cause the system to crash. (Yes, Outlook does try to fix itself when possible - it just doesn't always succeed.) To see a description of each add-in, highlight it, and you'll see the description at the bottom of the screen.

Now it's time to find out which add-in or add-ins are causing the crashes. There's no logical way to do this; you'll have to use the process of elimination. At the bottom of the screen, make sure that the COM Add-ins drop-down is selected, then click Go. You'll see a screen like the one pictured below.

Those add-ins that are active have check marks next to them; those without check marks are inactive. Uncheck the box of the add-in that you think might be causing the problem, click OK, and then close and restart Outlook. Outlook will now run, but the add-in will be inactive. If Outlook works properly, you've discovered the cause of your problem.

You can keep running Outlook with the add-in inactive or instead remove it from your system. Some add-ins can be removed using Windows' normal Uninstall routine. Others, though, won't be visible there. To remove those, get back to the screen you used for disabling add-ins. Highlight the add-in you want to remove and click Remove. Be careful before you do this, because you won't get a dialog box asking if you really want to remove it, as you do when you use Windows Uninstall. Click it, and it goes away immediately.

If it's an add-in that you would prefer to keep using, check with the publisher to see if there's a workaround or fix before deleting it.

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