Laptop: E-mail (28th November 2011)

Alas, Windows 7 doesn’t let you use Outlook Express, from what I’ve read. So I choose the replacement for it, Windows Live Mail. That was made by that team (or so I’ve read on blogs) so I had faith in in being fairly sensible.

It is fairly sensible. In fact, adding my temporary Gmail account was easy. Hardest thing was finding the GMail settings screen. That cog you get on Google sites is really quite random about which settings it lets you get to.

The clincher was it comes with a calendar. A feature sorely missing from Outlook Express.

Later this week, I’ll try adding my Project Cerbera account. It does sort-of seem to support IMAP, as test on my parents’ PC.

There was no way to create Mail Rules for an IMAP account in Outlook Express, another sorely missed feature. Hopefully Windows Live Mail will allow that. It’s essential for any hope of keeping W3C mailing list noise away from day-to-day business.

29th November 2011

Access Gmail from Windows Live Mail

This was refreshingly straightforwards. Clearly it’s a ‘paved cowpath’ Microsoft have recognised. There were two online help references I used, in the spirit of “look before you leap”:

Both were simple enough, clear enough. Sadly lacking a search box on the Microsoft site, though!

Migrating POP3 E-mail

My old PC has thousands of messages from the e-mail account I have on this website. Quite a few for my professional site, too. These aren’t synchronised on a server through IMAP but Windows Live Mail will let me import the local files directly.

To find where Outlook Express has stored the downloaded messages on my old PC is easy. When you know how:

  1. Click the Tools menu.
  2. Click Options.
  3. This opens the Options window.
  4. Click on the Maintenance tab.
  5. Click the Store Folders… button.
  6. This opens a small Store Location window.
  7. Right-click the path and click Select All.
  8. Right-click the path again and click Copy.
  9. Now open Windows Explorer and Paste this into the Address Bar.
  10. This shows me 1.73GB of .dbx files, which contain all my e-mails and attachments.

To move this onto my new laptop, I can share the folder over the local network. Using that Windows Explorer window on the old PC:

  1. Click the Up button in Windows Explorer.
  2. Right-click the Outlook Express folder and click Sharing and Security.
  3. This opens the Outlook Express Properties window with the Sharing tab selected.
  4. Tick Share this folder on the network.
  5. Tick Allow network users to change my files, just be sure it grants the laptop enough permission.
  6. Click Apply so this window stays open. Then I’ll remember to unshare it at the end.
  7. It gives a warning about the name being too long for old versions of Windows. That isn’t relevant as this is only sharing between Windows XP and Windows 7.

Now, on the new laptop:

  1. Open Windows Explorer.
  2. Click on Network in the left panel and wait for it to find the old PC.
  3. A few seconds later, it is shown.
  4. Double-click the old PC.
  5. The shared folder, Outlook Express, is shown. Hooray!
  6. Opening it shows my 158 *.dbx files. Right-click the Address Bar and click Copy address as text.

The remaining steps are for switch to Windows Live Mail on the laptop:

  1. Click on the ?? icon. It’s a dark blue icon to the left of Home, top left corner of the Ribbon but below the uppermost title bar.
  2. (Ribbon interface is stupid. See how difficult that is to describe?!)
  3. This shows the sort-of menu bar.
  4. Click on Import Messages.
  5. Windows Live Mail Import window
  6. Select Microsoft Outlook Express 6.
  7. Click Next.
  8. You cannot Paste into this box. Huh?
  9. Instead, click on Browse.
  10. This displays a small Browse For Folder window.
  11. Right-click on the Folder box and click Select All.
  12. Right-click on it again and click Paste.
  13. Click OK.
  14. This returns you to the Windows Live Mail Import Window, with that path added to the box.
  15. Click Next.
  16. You get a message called Import From OE6. It ends by saying the message store might be in use by another program. (Of course!)
  17. On the old PC, I closed Outlook Express.
  18. I tried to click Next on the new laptop and this time it worked. Simple enough.
  19. It shows a list of all the folders, by default All folders is selected. That’s what I want so I clicked Next.
  20. It began transferring the 4,040 messages which were in the first large folder.
  21. (Later on, I saw it transferring 14,677 messages from my generic W3C folder. There are many subfolders which that count doesn’t include!)

At this point AVG Resident Shield Alert popped up, saying Multiple thread detection! I double-clicked the divider line at the end of the File column header to see the full path. This showed me they were all in .eml files within the Deleted Items branch of the message database.

Most likely, these were infected spam messages which were automatically marked with ***SPAM*** by Spam Assasin running on the server. The full list of viruses was:

Wow! Once the list stopped growing, I clicked Remove All Unhealed, or words to that effect. (They were in Deleted Items so I’m not losing anything important.)

Made a note to run AVG through that folder on the old PC and then back them up to the external hard drive.

Some time later, the progress window had gone. The Windows Live Mail Import now said Your messages were imported in ‘Microsoft Outlook Express 6’ format. Yay! I clicked Finish.

It added a Storage Folders section to the left-hand Folders list in Windows Live Mail. The last item is called Imported Folder. Expanding this shows Local Folders, so I expanded that as well. It now looks like this:

Expanding the Inbox (9) item shows all the folders I actually imported. This seems crazy deep! Happily the nested structure of 158 folders within it was migrated perfectly.

I closed the Outlook Express folder which was open in Wimdows Explorer on the laptop. I then unshred the folder on the old PC.

I’ve since been able to drag-and-drop these folders, re-using the preset ones in the case of duplicates. It now looks like this:

As before, the Inbox folder expands to reveal my trusty folder structure.

Adding E-mail Accounts

Set them both up and, after remembering my passwords, they pulled in the messages.

Disaster! The account for Project Cerbera had pulled in 1,264 unread messages due to W3C lists I rarely check! Site Surgeon had 192 unread messages, too! Oh dear.

In the Ribbon for Windows Live Mail, the Folders tab has a Message rules button on the far right. This is the same as Outlook Express, from what I can tell, but there seems to be no way of importing my old rules directly. A task for another time; Fiona and I had wanted to start dinner some 3 hours ago!

Oh, just tried to send a message. Ribbon is properly ghastly in that window! Also realised my contacts and signatures haven’t been brought across. Another task for another time…sigh.

This makes me sad. It means even more of my time will be spent on boring migration tasks instead of interesting life tasks. How do people change their computers every couple of years without losing all their friends – or all their past data?!

30th November 2011

Re-arranging Imported E-mail Folders

It was nice having all my mail go to a single inbox in Outlook Express. Since the imported folders are in a Storage folders section, I decided to try recreating my old setup.

From the Windows Live Mail ribbon, the Folders tab has a Mail Rules button on the far right. Clicking that opens the Rules window. In the first box, I ticked For all messages and in the second I ticked Move to the specified folder. I specified the folder as Local Storage > Inbox and named the rule Unified Inbox.

The Apply now button opens the Apply Mail Rules Now window. I selected the Unified Inbox rule and then set the Apply To Folder to the root of my Project Cerbera account. Include subfolders was already ticked and that’s what I wanted.

I clicked Apply Now and after a few seconds it had moved all the messages from that account into my Local Storage > Inbox folder. I did the same for my Site Surgeon account. Sadly couldn’t do this to my Gmail account, as that’s IMAP and can’t be manipulated this way.

This rule will remain active, moving all my incoming POP3 mail to this central inbox. Yay!

Closed both the windows, as the task was complete.

Migrating Windows Live Contacts

Long ago, in the era of .NET Passport, I associated my Project Cerbera account with it so I could use Windows Messenger. That association has remained. (Credit to Microsoft for keeping this service running with all old accounts intact for well over a decade!)

Windows Live Mail has a Contacts item at the bottom-left of the main window. It invited me to sign into my Windows Live ID. It will only remember my details if I let it sign in automatically, which seems rather mean.

Anyway, this brought in all my Windows Messenger contacts, arranged into the groups. Great!

Sadly, they all go away when I sign out of Windows Live. Huh?

Happily, the interface for Hotmail has a Contacts area, bottom-left of their interface. (Credit for nice consistency!) At the top is an Export option, so I clicked that. it shows an Export contacts page where I have to pass a CAPTCHA, then click Export.

This gives me a download prompt for the CSV file, so I save it to my Contacts folder.

Returning to Windows Live Mail, I click Sign out at the far right of the ribbon. This doesn’t sign me out; instead it shows a menu where the final item is what I actually wanted and expected. Sigh. Anyway, now I’m signed out and my Contacts area is empty.

Now I click the Import button of the ribbon, which shows a menu. (Incidentally, what was the point of Ribbon interface if it ends up displaying menus anyway?!) This displays a CSV Import window with an editable box to enter the path to a file. Yay! (It also has a Browse button.)

In a rather optimistic mood, I open my Contacts folder in Windows Explorer and try drag-and-drop. Well, that works for the Run dialogue box but not for this one. (It should work everywhere, being equivalent to pasting the plain-text path if the target supports that without advertising any any richer drag-drop feature.)

So I right-click the Address bar and click Copy address as text. I paste this into the CSV Import box, then return to the folder. Now I do a deliberately too-slow double-click on the file so it enters the Rename mode. I press Ctrl+A to include the file extension, then Ctrl+C to Copy it. I return to the CSV Import box, add a \ to the folder path, then Paste the filename.

Just out of interest, I clear the box and click Browse. It doesn’t start in a sensible place, such as Downloads or Contacts, it starts in My Documents. So just as well I did the Copy-Paste thing.

I click Next and it gives me a tickable ListView of which fields I’d like to import. I scroll down, just out of curiosity, and find none of the E-mail fields are ticked. Huh? So I tick the first one. This pops up a Change Mapping window with a blank, grey dropdown list. Huh? I read the label and it says I can select the field I want to use as the E-mail address from here. I click it and find one called Email Address near the top, so click that. There’s a ticked option called Import this field, as if anything else would be the intended action. I click OK.

The other fields look like being similarly silly, so I just click Finish to see what happens. (“Surely the defaults for important contacts into an e-mail program would include all the e-mail detils…surely…”)

The import started, then it stopped. After just 5 contacts. No error message. Nothing in the status bar. Huh?

At least they do have e-mail addresses. All 5 of them. I guess Microsoft don’t want you to do this, so at some level they make the mechanism fragile. Time to investigate the CSV data manually:

  1. First thing I notice is there’s a lot of headers.
  2. Then, the first 5 contact rows each start with 46 commas.
  3. The next 2 start with 49 commas.
  4. Both have an e-mail address as the first piece of data, so the number of commas should be the same?
  5. I duplicate the file and replace all sequences of 49 commas with a sequence of 46 commas.
  6. I save this duplicate and try re-importing.
  7. 0 contacts are imported. Huh?

There is no other format to export from Hotmail.

(While nosing around the settings I found the advertisement options page and opted out from all 3 kinds of marketing methods. Quite surprised that these were ever enabled. Also changed my privacy settings so that everybody can see my profile but nobody can see any information.)


Export Address Book from Outlook Express 6

On the old PC all these addresses are present and correct. So maybe I can export from there?

File > Export > Address Book displays the Address Book Export Tool window. The first option is Microsoft Exchange Personal Address Book, which sounds like it’ll have the Groups and everything. The only other option is text file (comma separated values) which, as discovered above, doesn’t work.

So I click Export and about a second later, it gives me a message box saying Address book export process has completed. OK… I have a stupid question: where is it? (Huh?) I dismissed this message box.

Being a clever sort, I clicked Tools > Options and went to the Maintenance tab. Clicked the Store Folder button and copied the file path. Pasted it into the Address Bar of Windows Explorer and scrolled to the end. Bingo! There was a…oh, wait, it’s a .csv file from 2010.


After a web search I found a different way, even though it should be identical. Outlook Express has a separate window called Address Book. From here, click File > Export > Address Book (WAB) and it opens the common dialogue for saving a file. It’s entitled Select Address Book File to Export to, which is clearly impossible because I haven’t exported one yet.

Anyway, I navigate to the Desktop folder, enter a new File Name and press Save. A message box pops up to tell me it has exported them. Yay! Then I realise it’s difficult to share that folder, so I move it somewhere else and share that.

The laptop picks this up fine and I can see my .wab file. So I return to Windows Live Mail, in the Contacts area. I click Import again and click Windows Address Book (.WAB). I paste the path into the File name box, select the file and then click Open.

It takes a few seconds to import but it looks promising! A window called Windows Live Contacts tells me 300 contacts imported. I click OK and see each contact is a neatly presented name next to a bullet point.

The Messenger groups have been lost. Huh? That information was surely available to Outlook Express. of course, if Windows Live Mail imported without needing a permanent connection to Windows Live this would have been fine over a hour ago…

Clicking some contacts confirms their details are present and correct. Phew. At least it’s done.

Sad that I’ve lost all those years of careful grouping. It will never be complete now as I won’t remember who all these individuals are.

Transferring Mail Rules

This will have to be done manually. Boooooring.

Also noticed my Storage folders > Inbox has nearly 1,000 messages! These were probably all the messages on the POP3 servers which had not yet expired.

So I did a manual “Inbox Zero” rampage through them, which took about an hour. Started to sink in how much happens in my life these days. Even when I’m working freelance with long breaks!

Sadly, when I send a message it goes into the respective account’s Sent Items folder, rather than the Storage folder area.

After all that, my e-mail is in a pretty good state within what turns out to be a mostly neat and fast application. Totally in the same league as Outlook Express 6. That’s the big and relieving picture.

12th December 2011

Quick Access Bar can Replace the Ribbon!

When editing an event, it opens a window much like New Message. It contains a Ribbon interface at the top, which I collapse by double-click the Event tab. However, this removes any way to Save the event by using the mouse.

Seriously. There’s no Save icon amongst the little buttons near the Control Box (called the Quick Access Toolbar). Opening the dark blue dropdown menu thing below that only provides a Close item. Huh?

There is a solution, though:

  1. Expand the Ribbon.
  2. Right-click on Save and close, then click Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
  3. There is now a Save button you can click on without using the Ribbon. Yay!
  4. Collapse the Ribbon.

Forwarding a Message

Moving the Forward button to the Quick Access Toolbar feature could prove handy for the main Windows Live Mail window. With the Ribbon collapsed, there is neither a mouse-clickable button nor a keyboard shortcut to send a message on to somebody else. Huh?

At least the clickable side to this problem can be solved:

  1. Expand the Ribbon.
  2. Open the Home tab.
  3. Right-click on Forward, then click Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
  4. There is now a Forward button you can click on without using the Ribbon. Yay!
  5. Collapse the Ribbon.

Thing is, Ctrl+F isn’t even used for anything in Windows Live Mail. Ctrl+Shift+F shows the Find message window, which is very familiar: it’s from Outlook Express 6.

  1. Laptop!
  2. Received It!
  3. File Transfers with USB Stick
  4. Full Administrator Account!
  5. Installing Firefox
  6. Installing Games
  7. Reducing Processes
  8. WiFi Gaming
  9. E-mail
  10. Backups, Old & New
  11. Desk Arrangements
  12. Migrating Music
  13. Mobile Phone Archive
  14. Web Developer Setup
  15. Printing
  16. Putting Old PC Out To Pasture
  17. Stopping the Magical Edges
  18. Disk Cleanup
  19. FTPuse Integrates Seamlessly
  20. Laptop Performance