This one has been bothering me for a long time. It also happens that three or four others in the office are having (soon to be past tense) the same problem.
About Outlook favorites
In Outlook, one of the features that is very nice is the one where you can create a set of “favorite” folders. This extents to public folders and even calenders (which are just folders that hold appointment items). I use this constantly, changing out my favorites when I am moved from one project to another.
The Problem of disappearing favorites
Several months ago my favorites began ‘resetting”. When I would add or remove a favorite folder, my changes would disappear the next time I started Outlook. This held true for shared calendars as well. I would add another persons calendar to my list, but the next time I started Outlook that person would no longer be in my list.
Getting my favorites back in Outlook
This, of course, was frustrating. I did quite a bit of research at the time to no avail. Today it finally got me riled up again so I decided to take another stab at it and wouldn’t you know it, I found two possible solutions!
- You can create a new mail profile. This resets everything you’ve customized unfortunately, so it is, in my opinion, a last resort.
- You can navigate to the folder that Outlook stores settings in. In Windows XP it defaults to:
C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
In this folder you will find a file called Outlook.xml. Very innocuous sounding, don’t you think? This is the file causing all of the woes! You should exit Outlook completely then rename the file (never delete outright, bad form my good Pan!). Restart Outlook and you will notice all of your favorites and calendars are gone. Reset them to the way you would like, exit Outlook again and restart. *Poof* they are back!
Now the problem appears to be some sort of corruption to this file. The odd thing is, the file is only saved when you exit Outlook. I have confirmed this by watching the file system when starting Outlook with the file already gone. It does not reappear until I exit. My best guess is that if a corrupt file is loaded it messes something up within Outlook itself. No error that I could find is generated; however, the file is never saved again.
After some more poking around (it was easier to search for Outlook.xml than for the symptom itself) it seems that the general consensus is that this file becomes corrupt more often than you would imagine. If you’ve had this problem once, chances are pretty good that you will once again find your Favorite Shortcuts not being saved so keep these instructions handy!
As a side note, it was interesting to view the “corrupt” version of Outlook.xml and a “good” version of the file. They are very similar, but it would appear that one section called <userDefined> is the one that does not get saved after the file has went down the drain.