Outlook 2003 Shortcuts periodically vanish -> can I back these up?

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jfaughnan

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Mar 26, 2008, 10:45:06 AM3/26/08
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Yesterday I launched Outlook 2003 and my large collection of custom
Groups and Shortcuts were gone. Vanished. Disappeared. Zapped.

This happens to me every six months or so. I don't have any unusual
characters in the names of the Shortcuts.

It is a pain to recreate these.

I don't know the cause, based on Google searches I don't think this is
a known Outlook 2003 bug. There's no appropriate entry in Microsoft's
knowledge base.

It's probably something arising from my environment (a toxic mix of an
advanced personal desktop and our ugly corporate infrastructure with
lots of stuff being pushed to my desktop). I have very large PST files
and I index using Microsoft's Live indexing (once called Windows
Desktop Search).

So my questions are (all answers much appreciated):

1. Where are the shortcuts stored? Can I back them up? (If I could
back them up it wouldn't bother me when they vanish).
2. Is anyone else seeing a recent spike in this problem?

Thanks!

jfau...@spamcop.net

tags: jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, outlook, shortcut, shortcusts, outlook
2003, exchange, bug, problem, defect

jfaughnan

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Mar 26, 2008, 4:51:02 PM3/26/08
to
In follow-up my own post, I've learned a bit more.

1. These are specifically "navigation pane" shortcuts. I've changed
the title of the post to reflect this.
2. The fragility of Outlook 2003 navigation pane shortcuts has been
discussed before:
http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.outlook.general/browse_thread/thread/663c8e637abdc498/6b07cd2949e5efcd
3. They are supposedly stored in the outlook.xml file. Microsoft has a
kb article describing where key Outlook configuration files are
stored:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HP030822101033.aspx:
drive:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
\Outlook.xml

When I look in c:\Documents and Settings...Microsoft\Outlook there's
no Outlook.xml file there at all!

I think that's a clue :-).

The disappearance of my Navigation Pane Shortcuts is presumably a side-
effect of whatever is deleting my Outlook.xml file.

So now I know how to backup shortcuts (backup outlook.xml), but I
don't know why Outlook.xml is being deleted.

john
jfau...@spamcop.net
tags:jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, outlook, shortcut, shortcusts, outlook,


2003, exchange, bug, problem, defect

On Mar 26, 9:45 am, jfaughnan <jfaugh...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Yesterday I launched Outlook 2003 and my large collection of custom
> Groups and Shortcuts were gone. Vanished. Disappeared. Zapped.
> This happens to me every six months or so. I don't have any unusual
> characters in the names of the Shortcuts.

> I don't know the cause, based on Google searches I don't think this is
> a known Outlook 2003 bug. There's no appropriate entry in Microsoft's
> knowledge base.
> It's probably something arising from my environment (a toxic mix of an
> advanced personal desktop and our ugly corporate infrastructure with
> lots of stuff being pushed to my desktop). I have very large PST files
> and I index using Microsoft's Live indexing (once called Windows
> Desktop Search).
> So my questions are (all answers much appreciated):
> 1. Where are the shortcuts stored? Can I back them up? (If I could
> back them up it wouldn't bother me when they vanish).
> 2. Is anyone else seeing a recent spike in this problem?

> tags:jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, outlook, shortcut, shortcusts, outlook

jfaughnan

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Mar 26, 2008, 5:22:44 PM3/26/08
to
Well, this is getting even weirder.

The directory that contains the XML file is indeed:
C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Microsoft
\Outlook

However, I've found a different file name in actual machines vs. the
documentation:

1. According to Microsoft's documentation the file name should be
outlook.xml
2. A colleague has it stored in "username.xml" where username is the
XP login name.
3. I have it stored in "Default Outlook Profile.xml" with the form
(changed angle brackets to square parens):

[userdefined]
[linkgroup name="Shortcuts"]
[wdLnk]
[ltype]shortcut[/ltype]
[eid]45253 ... 54352145[/eid]
[name]Microsoft Office Online[/name]
[webfolder]1[/webfolder]
[clsid]86F0060...0000046[/clsid]
[icondata][/icondata]
[/wdLnk]
[/linkgroup]
[linkgroup name="test"]
[wdLnk]
[ltype]shortcut[/ltype]
[reckey]000000002B...000[/reckey]
[eid]00...33C90000[/eid]
[name]Inbox[/name]
[storeid]1[/storeid]
[clsid]007806...0046[/clsid]
[icondata][/icondata]
[/wdLnk]
[/linkgroup]
[/userdefined]

So I'm not sure the outlook.xml file is vanishing really ....

Very odd.

john


On Mar 26, 3:51 pm, jfaughnan <jfaugh...@gmail.com> wrote:
> In follow-up my own post, I've learned a bit more.
>
> 1. These are specifically "navigation pane" shortcuts. I've changed
> the title of the post to reflect this.
> 2. The fragility of Outlook 2003 navigation pane shortcuts has been

> discussed before:http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.outlook.general/brows...


> 3. They are supposedly stored in the outlook.xml file. Microsoft has a
> kb article describing where key Outlook configuration files are
> stored:http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HP030822101033.aspx:
> drive:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
> \Outlook.xml
>
> When I look in c:\Documents and Settings...Microsoft\Outlook there's
> no Outlook.xml file there at all!
>
> I think that's a clue :-).
>
> The disappearance of my Navigation Pane Shortcuts is presumably a side-
> effect of whatever is deleting my Outlook.xml file.
>
> So now I know how to backup shortcuts (backup outlook.xml), but I
> don't know why Outlook.xml is being deleted.
>
> john

> jfaugh...@spamcop.net


> tags:jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, outlook, shortcut, shortcusts, outlook,
> 2003, exchange, bug, problem, defect
>

Brian Tillman

unread,
Mar 26, 2008, 9:07:38 PM3/26/08
to
jfaughnan <jfau...@gmail.com> wrote:

> The directory that contains the XML file is indeed:
> C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Microsoft
> \Outlook
>
> However, I've found a different file name in actual machines vs. the
> documentation:
>
> 1. According to Microsoft's documentation the file name should be
> outlook.xml
> 2. A colleague has it stored in "username.xml" where username is the
> XP login name.
> 3. I have it stored in "Default Outlook Profile.xml" with the form
> (changed angle brackets to square parens):

The name of the file always matched the name of your mail profile.
--
Brian Tillman [MVP-Outlook]

jfaughnan

unread,
Mar 27, 2008, 10:00:10 AM3/27/08
to
Phew. That makes sense. So the microsoft kb article is incorrect, and
the variation arises from variations in the mail profile.

My best guess now is that I'm losing my Navigation Pane shortcuts
because something is trashing my "Default Outlook Profile.xml" file.
Now that I know where this file is, I can back it up (beauty of XML --
I can even simply restore a portion of it).

Have you heard of anything recently that would trash that file?

john
jfau...@spamcop.net

tags: jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, outlook user profile xml, corruption,
deletion, navigation pane shortcut, bug, defect, problem

On Mar 26, 8:07 pm, "Brian Tillman" <tillman1...@yahoo.com> wrote:


> jfaughnan<jfaugh...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > However, I've found a different file name in actual machines vs. the

> > 1. According to Microsoft's documentation the file name should be
> > outlook.xml
> > 2. A colleague has it stored in "username.xml" where username is the
> > XP login name.
> > 3. I have it stored in "Default Outlook Profile.xml" with the form
> > (changed angle brackets to square parens):
> The name of the file always matched the name of your mail profile.

> Brian Tillman [MVP-Outlook]

jfaughnan

unread,
Mar 27, 2008, 10:49:00 AM3/27/08
to
Since my last post we've figured out that the XML file in

drive:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
\

where Outlook stores the Navigation Pane user defined shortcuts is
named after the Exchange profile when Exchange is used, and may be
named "outlook.xml" when Exchange is not used. In my case it is named:
"Default Outlook Profile.xml".

Reviewing backups I found this file was truncated from 19K to 3K about
3 days ago.

I used a text editor to put the old userdefined data into the new
file.

This restored the shortcuts -- but the shortcuts that reference my
local PST files no longer work. Clicking on them produces this error
message:

"The messaging interface has returned an unknown error. If the problem
persists, restart Outlook".

I thought then to add a new instance of an existing Shortcut so I
could compare the XML and see what was broken. Once I did this,
however, the error went away. I'm guessing that adding the new
Shortcut caused Outlook to refresh some binary file that was out of
sync with the XML file.

So now I've restored my old Navigation Pane Shortcuts and I've defined
a restore procedure to follow:

1. Restore old file.
2. Copy and past in user defined section.
3. Create one new shortcut to cause Outlook to rebuild some hidden
binary and remove the messaging error.

I don't, however, know why they disappeared in the first place. This
XML file stores a number of items and references, so it's possible
that the problem lies in that domain, and my Navigation Pane Shortcuts
were merely innocent bystanders wiped out by an unrelated bug.

john
jfau...@spamcop.net
tags: jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, outlook, bug, defect, error, navigation
pane shortcuts, vanish, disappear, XML file, configuration data,
outlook 2003, gone

On Mar 26, 4:22 pm, jfaughnan <jfaugh...@gmail.com> wrote:
>         [userdefined]
>                 [linkgroup name="Shortcuts"]
>                         [wdLnk]
>                                 [ltype]shortcut[/ltype]
>                                 [eid]45253 ... 54352145[/eid]
>                                 [name]Microsoft Office Online[/name]
>                                 [webfolder]1[/webfolder]
>                                 [clsid]86F0060...0000046[/clsid]
>                                 [icondata][/icondata]
>                         [/wdLnk]
>                 [/linkgroup]
>                 [linkgroup name="test"]
>                         [wdLnk]
>                                 [ltype]shortcut[/ltype]
>                                 [reckey]000000002B...000[/reckey]
>                                 [eid]00...33C90000[/eid]
>                                 [name]Inbox[/name]
>                                 [storeid]1[/storeid]
>                                 [clsid]007806...0046[/clsid]
>                                 [icondata][/icondata]
>                         [/wdLnk]
>                 [/linkgroup]
>         [/userdefined]

> > In follow-up my own post, I've learned a bit more.

> > 2. The fragility of Outlook 2003 navigation pane shortcuts has been
> > discussed before:http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.outlook.general/brows...
> > 3. They are supposedly stored in the outlook.xml file. Microsoft has a
> > kb article describing where key Outlook configuration files are
> > stored: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HP030822101033.aspx
> > drive:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
> > \Outlook.xml

[The kb is wrong here, the name of the file is not necessarily
"outlook.xml". It may be named with the string Outlook associates with
the Exchange user profile. I think if Outlook is not used with
Exchange server it may be "outlook.xml".]

Brian Tillman

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Mar 27, 2008, 11:00:18 AM3/27/08
to
jfaughnan <jfau...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Phew. That makes sense. So the microsoft kb article is incorrect, and
> the variation arises from variations in the mail profile.

You'll notice that for all the other files that article mentions, with the
exception of outlprnt, no other file's name is mentioned, only the
extension. Many of the files have names derived from the profile name.
Some, like outcmd.dat, have fixed names, but most do not.

> My best guess now is that I'm losing my Navigation Pane shortcuts
> because something is trashing my "Default Outlook Profile.xml" file.
> Now that I know where this file is, I can back it up (beauty of XML --
> I can even simply restore a portion of it).

This might also be of some benefit:
http://www.slipstick.com/config/backup.asp

> Have you heard of anything recently that would trash that file?

No, I haven't. Sorry. I don't think you're alone, however.
--
Brian Tillman [MVP-Outlook]

jfaughnan

unread,
Mar 27, 2008, 11:39:43 PM3/27/08
to
Thanks Brian!

I never figured out why they vanished, but now I know how to backup
and restore those shortcuts.

I wrote up the procedure here:
http://tech.kateva.org/2008/03/case-of-vanishing-outlook-navigation.html.

All the best,

john
tags: outlook 2003, xml, config, corruption, deletion, truncation,
navigation pane shortcuts, vanish, disappear, gone, zapped profile.

On Mar 27, 10:00 am, "Brian Tillman" <tillman1...@yahoo.com> wrote:

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