Outlook 2002 won’t start

Day 1 Problem: could only open Outlook in safe mode

  • When tried to start Outlook today I got an error message saying Outlook failed to start correctly last time – but that I could try starting it in safe mode
  • So I clicked the button to start in Safe mode
  • Outlook opened ok although it gave a strange message “you cannot close Microsoft Word because a dialog is active. Switch to Microsoft Word and close the dialog”. There was a dialog that had popped up at the same time: one saying that C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\STARTUP\PALMAPP.DOT contains macros – a message that has come up for years. I clicked Disable on the message (as usual) and then I was able to use Outlook
  • But the next time I tried to start Outlook the same thing happened: I could only use Outlook in safe mode

Day 2 Problem: can’t open Outlook at all!

  • When I tried to start Outlook nothing happened (the hourglass disappeared quite quickly but Outlook didn’t open)
  • Tried again – same problem
  • Tried opening in Safe mode (Windows Start menu -> Run -> typed:
    Outlook.exe /safe
    with a space before the   /          but still Outlook didn’t open
  • A few hours later I opened the Windows Task Manager and it had 3 Outlook.exe processes showing

A partial solution: running “Detect & Repair” enabled me to open Outlook in safe mode

  • Rebooted the PC and tried opening Outlook in safe mode again (as above). Got an error message “Outlook failed to launch in safe mode. Would you like to start Detect & Repair?”. I said yes, it asked for my Office CD which I inserted.
  • Then I tried to Open Outlook in safe mode again: and it opened (with same messages as yesterday). Phew!
  • At this point I thought ” a backup would be good” so exported to a pst file
  • Came out of Outlook and tried to start Outlook again. Now the behaviour was slightly different: Outlook opened for a moment, then closed, error message “Outlook has encountered a problem and needs to close”; it restarted in safe mode but ran a check on the personal folders

The solution: rename a corrupt .dat file

  • closed Outlook
  • went to folder C:\Documents and Settings\Paul\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
  • renamed outcmd.dat (file with toolbar customisations) to outcmd.old
  • Outlook now works!

Thanks to … http://www.howto-outlook.com/faq/outlookdoesntstart.htm
Before renaming  outcmd.dat I tried the same with extend.dat which lives in the folder
C:\Documents and Settings\Paul\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

Along the way I lost quite a bit of time pursuing other avenues:

Diversion no.1: solving the Word error messages

  • In Tools -> Options -> Mail format -> deselected Word as email editor. Exited Outlook then back in: no change
  • PALMAPP.DOT is something to do with Palm Desktop (something I haven’t used for years) integrating with Word. I tried to delete the PALMAPP.DOT file (see above). Even if Word & Outlook were closed it wouldn’t let me: said the file was being used by Word and indeed there was a temporary file sitting beside PALMAPP.DOT. After rebooting (even in Windows Safe Mode) , uninstalling Palm Desktop etc and still seeing teh temporary file there I clicked on the temporary file and found I could it and then delete the file itself (probably should have tried that a lot earlier!)
  • Now I no longer get the funny word messages

Diversion no. 2: the Ad-aware email scanner

  • To see what functions had been disabled by “safe mode” in Outlook I clicked on Help -> About -> Disabled items. That showed “Adaware email scanner (emailscanner.dll)” and said it had prevented Outlook from functioning correctly
  • Clicked Adaware in system tray to both turn off “Adaware Live” and exit Adaware. Closed Outlook. Back into Outlook: same result as last time
  • So then I uninstalled Ad-aware: no change; Then tried searching the C drive for the file emailscanner.dll. It wasn’t there. So in Outlook Help -> About -> Disabled items I clicked to enable emailscanner.dll, then out of Outlook and back in. Now Outlook no longer lists it as Disabled item (it probably stopped existing earlier in the process: just Outlook was still showing it!)

Perhaps now I should upgrade to a more recent (and supported) version of Word?

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