Microsoft 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 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 Microsoft 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, 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 It’s an outdated client and has been superseded by superior ones, which we’ll detail later.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.
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.
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 Microsoft 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.
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.
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 Microsoft 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, 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, 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 Microsoft 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.
Are you still using Outlook Express? Have you recently made the switch to a different email client?