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Solutions: Here's a trick for e-mail problems

Q. About a month ago, I received an e-mail from a friend. I can't do anything with this e-mail. When I try to open it, I get a message that reads, "Message could not be displayed. Windows Mail encountered an unexpected problem while displaying this message. Check your computer for low memory or low disk space and try again." I am running Windows Vista Home Edition and Outlook Express. I have plenty of memory and disk space. I can't open it, send it, forward it or delete it. Any ideas on how to get rid of it?

A. This problem is usually caused by a corrupt mailstore. Microsoft includes a command line utility called esentutl that can be used to check, defragment and repair the WindowsMail.MSMessageStore file. Here's how to use it: Exit out of Windows Mail. Back up your e-mail data to another folder or disk: This includes the folder C:\Users\your-username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\ and all the subfolders as well. Note that the AppData folder is normally hidden, but if you click the Start button and then paste the complete folder spec from above and hit Enter, it will take you right there. You can also enable "View hidden files and folders" from within file explorer by clicking Tools, Folder options, View tab and look for that setting. Also note that in the folder spec I listed above, you'll need to substitute your user name (logon name) in place of "your_username." So, for me the entire folder spec would be C:\Users\john\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\. Now that you've safely backed up that entire folder (it's important — don't skip that step) it is time to use the esentutl utility. Click the Start button and type CMD and then hit the Enter key. This will open a command window.

To repair your WindowsMail.MSMessageStore file: esentutl /p "C:\Users\your-username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\windowsmail.msmessagestore"

To defragment your WindowsMail.MSMessageStore file: esentutl /d "C:\Users\your-username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\windowsmail.msmessagestore"

To check the integrity of your WindowsMail.MSMessageStore file: esentutl /g "C:\Users\your-username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\windowsmail.msmessagestore"

Q. Can I transfer Microsoft Office 2000 and related files (or other programs like Adobe Photoshop and pictures) to an external hard drive so I can use them with my laptop as well as my desktop computer? My desktop is a 5-year-old Dell running Windows XP SP2. It's getting pretty crowded.

A. Absolutely. But if you are speaking of the programs themselves, they will need to be uninstalled and then reinstalled on the external hard drive. But if you are referring to the data files used and created by these programs, then yes, they can exist anywhere. Even the USB flash drives that now come as large as 16 GB are becoming a convenient alternative.

Q. A question in regard to your April 14 column (Avoid an e-mail etiquette breach): If a user uses the BCC field to send multiple e-mails, why would we put our own address in the CC field and send ourselves a copy of the e-mail?

A. Yes, I caught that one myself, too late. What I meant was, put your own address in the "To" field and your recipients in the "BCC" field.

Send questions to or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Here's a trick for e-mail problems 04/20/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2008 4:37pm]
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