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Outlook Express is a basic email client that came bundled with versions of Windows from 98 to Server 2003. Microsoft officially discontinued the product with the launch of Vista, though you can still run it with some workarounds. However, we don’t recommend trying that because Microsoft will actively remove Outlook Express from your system if discovered.

The successor to Outlook Express is now Windows Mail, though at one point it was also called Windows Live Mail. Confusing, right? Here we walk through how to use either Windows Mail or Outlook as your alternatives, but first you might want to check out our guide to Microsoft’s email services Hotmail No More! Microsoft Outlook Email Services Explained Hotmail No More! Microsoft Outlook Email Services Explained Stop searching for Hotmail! The terminology surrounding the various Microsoft Outlook email services is confusing. If you no longer know whether it's called Outlook web app, Outlook Online, or other, let us explain. Read More to get your head around it all.

If you’re still holding onto Outlook Express or have made the switch to a different client, please let us know in the comments below.

Using Outlook Express on Windows 10

Microsoft no longer supports Outlook Express and hasn’t done so for over a decade. Microsoft is so adamant about it that Windows 10 will automatically uninstall the program from your system every time it performs a major update. The fact that Microsoft is controlling what programs you may run, through the use of forced automatic updates Pros & Cons of Forced Updates in Windows 10 Pros & Cons of Forced Updates in Windows 10 Updates will change in Windows 10. Right now you can pick and choose. Windows 10, however, will force updates onto you. It has advantages, like improved security, but it can also go wrong. What's more... Read More , is a controversial one, but it’s unlikely to change.

We advise that you stop using Outlook Express. It’s an outdated client and has been superseded by superior ones, which we’ll detail later. However, if you are insistent on using Outlook Express, then there is a workaround.

outlook express

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The folks at Run As XP have developed a version of Outlook Express that will run on all modern versions of Windows. It’ll cost you $20 for a license key, which you can obtain once you’ve downloaded and installed the program. It also supports Fidolook, an extension which adds support for message headers, templates, and other customization.

Windows 10 will still uninstall this program automatically when your system updates. As such, you’ll also need to use their Updates Disabler program. This allows you to disable Windows Update entirely 5 Ways to Temporarily Turn Off Windows Update in Windows 10 5 Ways to Temporarily Turn Off Windows Update in Windows 10 Windows Update keeps your system patched and safe. In Windows 10 you're at the mercy of Microsoft's schedule, unless you know hidden settings and tweaks. We'll help you keep Windows Update under control. Read More .

Bear in mind that having Windows Update disabled all the time will mean you won’t get security patches, new features, and other changes to Windows 10. We strongly advise you to leave Windows Update turned on!

If you don’t think Outlook Express is right for you anymore, keep reading for three alternative options.

Option 1: Use Windows Mail as an Alternative

If you’re looking for another simple email client that comes with your system by default, you should consider using Mail. Do a system search for it. While it’s not the most feature-rich email client, it does the job if you’re not after all the thrills of something like Outlook. It also integrates with the Calendar and People apps on your system.

To get started, click Add account and select the account you wish to link. You can use POP/IMAP, iCloud, Gmail, Outlook.com, and more. It’s as simple as entering the necessary credentials. The Mail app doesn’t store anything locally, so all the emails you see will be ones stored on the email server itself.

windows mail

As Windows Mail doesn’t store anything locally, you can’t bring across anything from Outlook Express. If you were using POP/IMAP on Express, that’s not much of a problem anyway because it’ll sync all your emails across.

To adjust your settings, click the cog wheel. This will bring up a number of options like Personalization, Automatic Replies and Signature, though you might find some of these inaccessible depending on your email server’s settings.

Option 2: Import Your Outlook Express Data to Outlook

Despite using the same Outlook branding, Outlook Express isn’t a stripped down version of its Office counterpart. The two programs were created from two different codebases. Nevertheless, it’s possible to export your data from Outlook Express and then import it into Outlook, providing both versions are 32-bit. For more information on compatibility, read our article on the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows.

To begin, open Outlook Express and navigate to File > Export email > Email messages…, then select Microsoft Exchange as the format, confirm the message that appears, then choose the folder you wish to export to.

outlook import

Next, go to File > Export > Address Book…, select Text File (Comma Separated Values) as the format, and choose the export folder when prompted. Select all the fields that you want to keep, then progress through the wizard to the end.

Finally, open Outlook and go to File > Open & Export > Import/Export. Select Import from another program or file and click Next. Follow the wizard through once for Comma Separated Values, which is your contact list, then a second time for Outlook Data File (.pst), which are your emails.

Option 3: Use a Non-Microsoft Email Client

If you don’t care about remaining in the Microsoft ecosystem, or perhaps want something free, consider using a different email client. We’ve got a list of the five best free email clients 5 of the Best Desktop Email Clients That Don't Cost a Dime 5 of the Best Desktop Email Clients That Don't Cost a Dime You need a desktop email client to handle your incoming mail? We show you the best desktop email clients you can get for free. Read More , the majority of which will support importing data from Outlook Express.

The best on the list is probably Mozilla Thunderbird, created the team behind Firefox, though it’s no longer actively developed.

Alternatively, you should consider moving away from using an email client entirely. In the past we’ve discussed why you should favor web-based email options 6 Reasons Why You Should Stop Using Desktop Email Clients in Favour of Web-Based Options 6 Reasons Why You Should Stop Using Desktop Email Clients in Favour of Web-Based Options I know that suggesting desktop clients have had their day around the MakeUseOf crowd is like preaching to the choir. Most of us use Gmail, our own mail servers or some form of cloud backup... Read More , especially since the features offered by many of them are similar and sometimes better compared against desktop clients.

For example, using a web-based email solution can offer flexibility syncing between devices and provide simpler backup.

Is Express Really the Best?

Though Outlook Express served its purpose well, continuing to use it on Windows 10 is questionable. Not only has it been totally dropped by Microsoft, but they’ll actively remove it from your system. You’ll find all the features of Express offered in other email clients that work better on modern systems.

All set up with your new email system? It’s time to become an email wizard. Be sure to ponder our list of tools to help you write better emails 5 Tools That Can Help You Write Better Emails 5 Tools That Can Help You Write Better Emails Everyone is still trying to solve the email problem. So, let's also talk about the most basic habit of all – the art of writing better emails. With the help of some cool tools. Read More .

Are you still using Outlook Express? Have you recently made the switch to a different email client?

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  1. Angela Scott
    June 30, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    I don't think it's up to Microsoft to tell people what they should use, and even go so far as to remove programs from someone's computer without their permission! If someone wants to use a certain software, and they are aware of the implications, that's their choice!

  2. Peter S.
    June 26, 2017 at 9:31 am

    My girlfiend is blind. She was very happy with Outlook Express on XP and W7.
    It is a very basic email client but does everything she wants and her 15 year old mail is available. She is now using Outlook Express on W10 (see link for supported (payed) version in article)

  3. colleen
    January 20, 2017 at 12:55 am

    Forced to use another, I had everything in it so it would share to and in categories, most other programs don't allow you to choose a group to send to unless you set up separate groups in google and invite everyone to them. I hate they took that away. I do several different programs, and need to have groups because i can't remember all the names in all the groups to select them one by one and it's a pain to do that!
    Still struggling with all the other programs, plus with less then perfect internet connection, It allowed me to work off line when the power was out and auto sent the emails or updated the calendars when internet came back up. so your comment about having all my personal emails stored on line is not for me and many others that deal with business and non profits an all.

    • Tina Sieber
      January 22, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Colleen, you might want to get a desktop email client with a calendar app. Thunderbird is one option. Or you might still have a copy of Outlook; it comes with the Office suite of applications.

  4. jdrch
    January 13, 2017 at 12:16 am

    Literally NOBODY in their right mind wants to do this. Seriously, you guys must be starved for content judging from these articles. Up next: "How To Use A Horse to Pull Your Car"

    • Dave Parrack
      January 13, 2017 at 12:27 am

      Perhaps we wrote this for people not in their right minds. That horse article sounds interesting though...

    • Joe Keeley
      January 14, 2017 at 9:33 pm

      Hey Jdrch! Actually, there are people out there who want to use Outlook Express, which is why this was written. But when you read the article you'll notice that we discourage it.

    • Tina Sieber
      January 22, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      I'm responsible for this idea. It was inspired by very recent and hugely popular forum posts where people asked for exactly this and how to do it on Windows 10.

      Note how the title doesn't promise how to do it, but what people need to know about using Outlook Express on Windows 10. As Joe, the author, noted, we discourage using Outlook Express and highlight multiple alternatives.

      All that aside, do you have serious article ideas or requests for us? Any Windows problems you need help with? Or any tech topics you'd like to learn more about?

      • Rachel Humphrey
        August 7, 2017 at 8:46 pm

        I have used all the ones suggested and none work well for the long haul. All of them stop communicating with the server. I'm looking for an email client that works for ever that also filters. I've used Mozilla and it stopped working... any other ideas.

        • Tina Sieber
          August 10, 2017 at 7:23 pm

          How do they stop working?

    • K. Bill Hodges
      March 22, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      I came here because I'm still running XP, and haven't updated to Win 7 because I want to keep Outlook Express. I have many years of stored business emails, both sent and received, and maintaining this evidence base is important.