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  1. #1
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    Outlook 2003 Contacts list

    Uh oh, I really screwed up !

    I transferred my outlook.pst on to a laptop to work on filed stuff whilst away from home, then put it back on the original PC.

    Everything worked fine except the Address Book (Contacts). No contacts displayed when I choose the Contacts option, but a Contacts folder was visible at the top left. If I clicked on that, all my contacts became visible.

    But the visible contacts are not the default and this messed up various functions. So I went into Tools, Address Book, Tools, Options and found a list of 5 folders, ALL named Contacts. Trial and error - selecting the last of these has partially rectified things:

    Things that work:
    • When composing a mail I can now successfully select contacts using the TO and CC buttons
    Things that don't work:
    • When I first click on Contacts, I still see nothing until I select the Contacts folder showing at the top left.
    • Addresses which are Groups will not expand (or send) when in the To: section of a newly composed mail. I get the error message "Cannot perform the requested operation. The command selected is not valid for this recipient. The operation failed." But the Group will expand in the Contacts list.
    I'd be really grateful if anyone can point me to the right way to fully restore the (only) Contacts list as Outlook's default. And, in passing, it would be very nice to get rid of the 5 'ghost' contacts files. I can see that Outlook may be confused by there being 5 with the same name !

    Many thanks, Martin

    PS1 In the Tools, Address Book, Tools, Options location, there are three dialogs:
    1. Show this address list first. Here I can select the correct file from the 5 listed.
    2. Keep personal addresses in. Here I cannot see how to select the correct option from the 5 folders all named Contacts - how will I know when I have done so ?
    3. When sending mail, check names using these address lists in the following order. Here there is only one choice - named Contacts of course !

    PS2 Delving around, I looked to see what would show if I right-clicked the Contacts folder displayed and then selected Move. Curiously two folders show - Christmas and Contacts. I had the Christmas folder years ago and had removed it (I thought). Odd that it doesn't show in any of the other places you can view contacts folders ?
    Needless to say, I didn't actually move anything - just looked :-)
    Last edited by MartinM; 2011-11-03 at 21:02.

  2. #2
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    How old is your latest backup?

    First, back up your royal mess.

    Second, restore the system from a known-good backup, overwriting the mess.

    Now you have a known-good Outlook, exceopt for changes, including those that gave you the mess.

    Export to file the components that have been corrupted (Contacts, I gather).

    Now restore the mess from backup, overwriting the known-good restore.

    Delete the bad stuff (Contacts), and import the known-good Contacts.

    I'm sure there is a simpler way, but chances are it will rely on the same principal. If you have an old and disused machine you can restore the known-good backup to that, and export the good Contacts to a flash drive, for example.
    Last edited by dogberry; 2011-11-03 at 21:29.

  3. #3
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    I have two backups.

    The older backup is a month old, before I did many hours work on the filed emails. It was created on the desktop.

    The newer backup is virtually up to date, except for the Inbox which has 300 new mails from when I was away. It was created on the laptop.

    Both are simply copies of the outlook.pst file.

  4. #4
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    I am a bit out of date and may have overlooked things or made unjustified assumptions. I had completely forgotten about the Outlook Backup program, which no longer graces Office with the latest version. I also assume that you are talking about pst files.

    If you have five folders each must have a date associated with it, whatever else may be involved. If they are folders, I presume the date will be the date the folder was created, and hence will not necessarily reflect the dates of the contents. The dates of the contents will show you the latest.

    You probably know all this, but I'll go through it for the benefit of others following the thread who don't know it, as well as to offer any ideas you find helpful.

    Outlook.pst is a very large file with 'everything' in it. You can, however, create additional *.pst files to transfer specialized data from one machine or another by using the Import and Export functions. This is much safer than trying to keep the contents of the large Outlook file synchronized among computers. It can also be used to store things like Contacts, which don't change much, as opposed to Calendar, which changes often if you have a lot of appointments, for example. So you use 'Export to file' to copy the Contacts to a separate pst file called Contacts.pst, which you can then import into Outlook on another machine using the import/export functions. (The exact form varies from version to version of Outlook.) Be careful when naming them, because there is no automation involved - this is strictly manual operation. When you click to Export it may give you a saved name and location, both of which are wrong for your purposes.

    There is also a setting available to you in setting up your account that is easily overlooked. You (may) have the option to leave incoming messages on the server, which means your ISP's server, for a certain number of days. Outlook's default is 14, which means that if a computer is out of service for two weeks all of your email will be downloadable when you re-start it. Anything earlier than two weeks will be unavailable, unless you have set the time period to something longer. Set it for as long as you like.

    I don't expect that any of that helps you if you are in a jam, but I do think that you probably can get what you want by using your backup(s). (When I wrote 'backup' I had in mind a system image or backup.) What you want is a destination to which you can restore your known-good backup, and then create a Contacts.pst file to import into your present Outlook with 'Replace Duplicates with Items Imported'. Unfortunately, you cannot have two different Outlook installations on the same computer, but this brings us back to your second machine. Are the Contacts correct on your laptop? If so, it should be no problem at all. Proceed to create a Contacts.pst file on removable media using export on your Laptop, then import it into Outlook on your desktop. Be sure to replace duplicates, and you may still be left with invalid entries, which you will have to resolve by comparison with the contents of your laptop's Contacts item by item.

  5. #5
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    Thank you for that comprehensive explanation.

    I have gone down the route you describe and almost everything is fixed, except that, on first using Outlook, when I go to contacts nothing** is shown. I have to click on the folder named contacts, then all the contacts appear.

    ** by "nothing", I mean that the left pane changes to the appropriate one for contacts, but the right pane remains as it was eg Calendar or Mail.

    After I have clicked on the contacts folder once, all is normal when I subsequently go to contacts.

  6. #6
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    I am relieved to hear that you are back in business. I got a bit carried away with myself in explaining it, because Outlook is a complex program with a lot of variation, and I am not an expert. I am really really glad that I didn't make it worse.

    The behaviour you describe sounds normal to me, and I am not sure what you mean when you say 'when I go to contacts'. If you have more than one account then you can certainly have empty categories, but that is a special case. If I want to see Contacts I have to click on the Contacts folder as well. It may be that your default startup view was Contacts, and now we have changed it. 'Outlook today' is a convenient default to use as a startup view, and it's fairly standard. You might look it up to be sure to get it right for your version if you want to try it.

  7. #7
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    What I meant is this (isn't it hard to explain without pictures !):

    My Outlook opens with Mail showing and on the left pane at the bottom are "blocks" I can click titled Calendar, Contacts and Tasks. Clicking on Calendar, for instance, takes me to the Calendar page with all my appointments showing (as before).

    But clicking on Contacts merely changes the contents of the left pane - on the right I can still see all my mails. I have to click on the Contacts folder to get the contacts to show. It didn't used to be like that, and my copy of Outlook on my laptop works the way I expect it to - I can see the actual contacts when I click on Contacts in the left pane.

    Hope this makes sense.

  8. #8
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    There is one quick test to see if we have failed utterly: compare the contacts that you can see with the contacts on the laptop. That would matter greatly.

    It has been a long time since I used 2003, but in 2010 you can right-click on what you have called "blocks" and find several settings for the displays that are available to you. If you can't get it that way, there may be a menu item that controls it. Outlook really is a big program with a lot of modifications available to you.

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