Hate Microsoft Outlook? How to fix top annoyances

Microsoft Outlook is big, slow and quirky. Here's how to make it work better for you.

In fact, statistics lovers can quickly get lost in this program; there's a Xobni Analytics feature that provides a mind-boggling amount of information about your e-mail use, such as the average amount of time it takes you to respond to people by day, month and week. And that's just the beginning. You can, for example, even see the median time it takes you to respond to individuals, to individuals in a domain ... well, you get the picture.

Don't get this program for the analytics, though. Get it to cut through your Outlook e-mail and information overload.

Annoyance No. 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 e-mail program is to get e-mail -- not to turn belly-up every other time you open it?

How to fix 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 does 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 -- Trust Center and click the Add-ins button. You'll see a screen like the one pictured below.

You'll see add-ins organized 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.

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