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How to Share Outlook Express in Windows XP
Last updated: 2/3/04

Q. How do I share Outlook Express messages (i.e., the file structure or store) among multiple users of the same Windows XP computer?

A. Microsoft has a Knowledge Base article on this subject and I have seen renditions of it on several other Internet sites. I don't like any of them and people following them are liable to end-up with lost mail. I am assuming that you have Internet Explorer 6.x installed.

1. If you have valuable messages I strongly advise that you login as Administrator and backup C:\Documents and Settings. Windows XP Backup can be used to do this (Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup). You can back it up to a temporary directory/folder on your hard disk drive.

By default a user's message files are located on the C: drive in: C:\Documents and Settings\The User' Name\Application Data\Identities\{Class}. {Class} or ClassID is a long alphanumerical number that uniquely identifies a Windows object. You can see the path to the files in Outlook Express with Tools, Options, Maintenance Tab, Store Folder button.

2. Login as Administrator and click Start, right-click My Computer, Explore, select the Shared Documents folder. In the Main menu select File, New, Folder, and name it Outlook Express.

3. Right-click the Outlook Express folder and select Properties,

4. In the General tab, uncheck the Read-only checkbox, Apply, and select Apply to this folder, subfolders and files if prompted, OK.

I should note that if you revisit this tab the checkbox will have a green square in it. That does not mean it is checked. You will see a checkmark if it is.

5. Click the Sharing tab, and share the folder as shown below. Both of those checkboxes have to be checked. OE was chosen as the share name because Outlook Express is too long to be a share name. Don't forget to click Apply before clicking OK.

6. Login to the User account with the most E-mail that should be saved.

7. In OE, Tools, Options, Maintenance Tab, Store Folder button, Change, browse to Shared Documents\Outlook Express, OK, OK, OK, restart Outlook.

8. Login in as each additional user to which you want to share the Outlook Express Folders.

9. Create a temporary folder: Right-click My Computer, select My Documents, File, New, Folder...

10. In OE, Tools, Options, Maintenance Tab, Store Folder button, Change, browse to the temporary folder you just made, OK, OK, OK, restart Outlook. This will copy the user's mail folders to the temporary folder.

11. Repeat step 10 and browse to Shared Documents\Outlook Express. This will produce the following prompt:

There appears to be and Outlook Express message already in the folder you have chosen. Do you want to switch to using that store? If not, it will be deleted and replaced with your current store.

Click the Yes button. Now, you now my reasons for being so cautious.

12. That completes sharing the first users mail folders and messages. Various users can then import any desired messages from those temporary files in OE with File, Import, Messages, Outlook Express 6, Next, Import mail from an OE6 store directory, OK, browse to the temporary file, OK, Next...


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