Archive for the 'Office' Category

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 …
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?

Problems transitioning from Excel 2003 to 2007

For a basic explanation on how to find your way around the Excel 2007 menu / ribbon see 23Nov10 post:

Install “Add-ins”

How do you activate “add-ins” in 2007? It’s hidden away …

  1. click that Big Office button
  2. Excel options
  3. Add-ins

There is a good full explanation at


Things not in the ribbon

  • There are loads of commands not in the Ribbon
  • You can’t customise the ribbon
  • So you have to add them to the Quick Access Toolbar

Eg Pivot Table Wizard; or “Send To” icon; or “Document location” (box showing the path for the current document: useful for copying and sending to others)

The Quick Access Toolbar is right at the top of the Excel 2007 screen. To edit it click on the little black arrow at its right-hand end and then select “More Commands”


Data: Synchronise List

This is one of the commands that is not anywhere in the ribbon! So you have to add it to the Quick Access toolbar as explained above. However when I opened an Excel 2003 spreadsheet that connects to some data in Sharepoint I got a more fundamental problem: “Excel cannot connect to the Sharepoint List”.

It was solved by this download:

Actually you cannot synchronise to Sharepoint lists if you save the spreadsheet in the enw Excel 2007 format: you have to save it as an Excel 2003 file. More explanation on all this at:


Control Toolbox & Design mode

To get these in Excel 2007 you have to turn on the “developer” tab in the Ribbon. To do that:

  1. click that Big Office button
  2. Excel options
  3. Check the box beside show Developer tab in the ribbon”


Pivot Tables

Pivot tables seem to have changed quite a bit in Excel 2007. They no longer make spreadsheets quite so enormous or slow which is great. Unfortunately, though, a pivot table in an Excel 2007 spreadsheet cannot be opened in Excel 2003: it will just open as a read-only table.

So if a spreadsheet with pivot tables is being used in both Excel 2003 and Excel 2007, then you must make sure you save it as an Excel 2003 file (and not in the Excel 2007 file format)


Drawing objects not visible – ongoing problem

  • Spreadsheet created in Excel 2003 and includes some drawing objects
  • Open it in Excel 2007 and the text boxes and other drawing objects do not display
    When I click around the worksheet some of them display
    On print preview none of them show
    But when I print they all show!
  • Page Layout -> Selection Pane -> Show All: now most of them show
    Some at the edges of the worksheet are still not showing but by clicking around the worksheet they all show
    BUT they disappear again if I click Print Preview, or scroll down the page, or  temporarily go to anotehr sheet in the workbook!

Excel – some good websites

Office 2007 “ribbon” v Office 2003 menus

Moving from Excel and Word 2003 to the 2007 versions I found it very slow to do anything in the new versions. Below are some helps I found. (For details of problems transitioning Excel 2007 see my post on 10 May 2011)

1) Finding the icon in 2007 – interactive guide
You can use this guide from the web link or download it to yuour PC. It’s really helpfu: click a menu item in Excel 2003 and it shows you where the equivalent is in Excel 2007:

2) 2003 Keyboard shortcuts
In Word 2003, I used to use the keyboard shortcuts finding them quicker than icons. The 2003 keyboard shortcuts actually still work in Office 2007 (eg Alt O P to format a paragraph)

3) Office 2007 shortcuts
Office 2007 has its own keyboard shortcuts: press Alt and the ribbon-based ones are displayed.
Here’s a good list of keyboard shortcuts (eg CTRL Asterisk to select the current region)

Also worth knowing … CTRL Shift ! for number format with 2 decimals; or CTRL Shift ( to unhide hidden rows

3) Install the Excel 2003 menus into Excel 2007
free download:
Or you can pay for something similar:

and if you really don’t like that ribbon …
try CTRL F1