Outlook Express Compacting Annoyance Message

Condition:  After logon immediately following boot-up, a message prompt appears informing you to compact the Outlook Express message store and includes a button to trigger the routine.

Perhaps your users don’t use Outlook Express but in this case it won’t matter.  Lately I’ve experienced a large amount of occurrences of this annoyance on XP SP3 desktops.  For some unknown root cause there is an Outlook Express counter that is suddenly getting triggered upon reaching an open/close limit (100) although it isn’t being opened or closed ever.  There are various reported programs that due to indexing are believed to sufficient trip the counter.  Windows Desktop Search is one of these.  With this app’s ‘Options’, Outlook Express indexing can be manually unchecked; however, still messages continue to appear unabated.

Fortunately I discovered a solution that ends the madness.  The only caveat is that it will permanently disable the counter from ever working.  I’d rather recommend Windows Live Mail over Outlook Express anyway.

Simply altering the Windows Registry to set this counter to 0 will buy you a little time until it reaches 100 again (the limit).  Instead if you completely remove that subkey it stays gone and so do the messages.  Normal precautions and warnings to editing the registry apply.

Here’s where: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\{GUID}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0 ->Compact Check Count

…and of course you can just remove Outlook Express altogether via Add/Remove -> Windows Components

****note:  to be clear as pointed out by Jim in the comments, if you do run Outlook Express again, then this key will get recreated.****


6 responses to “Outlook Express Compacting Annoyance Message

  1. re:Outlook Express Compacting Annoyance Message

    Unfortunately, the deleted key gets regenerated.

    Making a .reg file and importing through a login script or autoexec.bat (for non-domain users) resets the counter back to whatever value is in the stored .reg file.

  2. Jim,

    Thanks for bring this to my attention. This point has been expressed to me before; however, when I’ve double-checked I’ve not seen this key get recreated. Where have you seen it get recreated?

    In relevant PC’s where I’ve deleted the key, no user is using (opening) Outlook Express so perhaps this is the trigger for that key to get recreated. With your ‘heads-up’ I’ll check into this where I’ve made the change for the purpose of discovering what if anything has been recreated.

  3. Yes, it’s the executable msimn.exe that increments and recreates the missing key, if applicable.

    For your testing, delete the key (keep Regedit open). Run OE, refocus on Regedit, press F5 and recheck the keys.

  4. Well one of my points is that Outlook Express shouldn’t be used at all going forward since the freely downloadable Windows LiveMail is a more feature rich communication tool.

    So in that case, configue this new software to be the default mail client and educate the users to not open Outlook Express. In fact you can remove the shortcut from their interface so that they don’t ever click it again out of habit.

  5. FWIW: I’ve been toying with this problem for three days now. Using procmon, I found that on my system it was Windows Desktop Search (and more lately, Windows Search, once I upgraded to it) that was updating the count. Removing WS is not an option for me, because I really like its functionality.

    I tried renaming all instances (3) of msimn.exe but that didn’t cure things.

    I also tried renaming msoe.dll, and that didn’t stop the count form getting incremented. It looks to me like WS is doing it directly, on its own.

    I’ve also tried removing the registry entries for “Compact Check Count” but they simply get recreated.

    Although I don’t use it, I’m hesitant to remove Outlook Express, because I’ve seen mixed reactions to that in various fora.

    I think the surest cure is to rest the count to 0 every time I boot, via a script. As long as I’m not using OE, that shouldn’t cause too much harm …

  6. Any reason why you don’t make the switch to Windows Live Mail? http://get.live.com/wlmail/overview

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