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Hate Microsoft Outlook? Top 10 annoyances and how to fix them

By Preston Gralla
January 13, 2009 12:00 PM ET

If that doesn't work, you do have one other option. Though we haven't had a chance to test them, there are a variety of programs that claim they do a better job than the Inbox Repair Tool of fixing corrupt files. A Google search will turn up several if you want to go down that path.

Annoyance No. 7

How can I kill duplicate Outlook entries? In Outlook, duplicate e-mails, contacts, tasks, notes and other information have an annoying habit of appearing out of the blue. Sometimes this happens when you import data from an earlier version of Outlook. And other times ... well, I simply don't know why it happens, but it does. You say you'd like to be able to kill duplicates without devoting your life to tracking down every single one and deleting by hand?

How to fix it: Once again, a third party has stepped up to the plate with a solution. Download the free Outlook Duplicate Items Remover, close Outlook, and install the software.

Outlook Duplicate Items Remover
Vaita's Outlook Duplicate Items Remover.
Click to view larger image

Once you do that, you'll find a new Outlook menu option, ODIR. Click the menu option, select Remove Duplicate Items and, from the screen that appears, select a folder from which you want duplicate items removed. Click Remove Duplicate Items, and it searches for duplicates in the folder. At that point, it copies the duplicated items to a folder, so you have a backup, and removes the duplicates from Outlook.

Annoyance No. 8

Why can't I synchronize Outlook on multiple PCs? If you've got multiple computers from which you want to access e-mail -- a desktop and a laptop, let's say -- this one may well top your all-time annoyance list. You have Outlook on both machines, but there doesn't seem to be a way to keep your mail in sync -- the mail on your laptop doesn't match that on your desktop. What you'd like seems simple: No matter which machine you use, you'd like it to have all of your e-mail and be up to date.

How to fix it: As I've explained, Outlook keeps its data in one big .pst file. So if you want your mail to be up to date on whatever machine you're currently using, you'll have to manually copy that file between machines.

For example, let's say you're using your desktop PC, and you're about to head out on the road with your laptop. You must copy the desktop's .pst file to your laptop before you go. Then you can use Outlook on your laptop as you would normally. When you return, copy the .pst file back from your laptop to your desktop, and your desktop will be up to date. (See Annoyance No. 3 for ways to find the location of your .pst file.)

Although this back-and-forth copying will solve your problem, it's a major-league pain in the hindquarters. And it's prone to error as well -- you may accidentally overwrite a newer .pst file with an older one.

If you're willing to spend a little money, there's a more bulletproof solution: Get a program that will automatically synchronize your Outlook data between PCs. I found two good pieces of software that do the trick.

SynchPST for Outlook and PSTSync both do similar tasks and come with extras, like the ability to copy and synchronize only individual folders instead of entire .pst files. They're both shareware, so you can try them before you buy them. SynchPST costs $39.95 for the Basic version and $69.95 for the Professional version, which has extras such as the ability to schedule automated syncs. PSTSync costs $59.99.

If you use a laptop and a desktop, and have set up your desktop for remote access, then there's an even simpler solution. When you're on the road and need to check your e-mail, make a remote connection to your desktop and run Outlook remotely. That way, you won't need to do any synchronization at all.



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