Curing slow-to-open e-mail attachments

Ask Jim

Plugged In

January 04, 2007|By Jim Coates | Jim Coates,Chicago Tribuune

Recently, Microsoft Outlook started taking an extraordinary amount of time to open e-mail attachments in Word. I've scanned for viruses and the like to no avail.

Both Word and Internet Explorer open quickly independently. It's just when accessed from Outlook that it takes so long. Any thoughts?

- Roger Carroll, Niagara Falls, N.Y.

There are two things that most commonly make Word kick into extreme slow motion. First, the printer settings in Outlook are bollixed, and so when Word opens and starts hunting for a printer as it does at every startup, it keeps looking and looking and looking. The second-most common cause is a corrupted template file that gets loaded when Word opens in Outlook.

First, the printer issue: Outlook can get pointed at a network printer instead of the one you use in Word when it runs alone. Unlike the printers on your desktop, there are potentially infinite printers on a network. So the software keeps looking. If you are using a network, you need to find the software for the printer in question and load those drivers onto your own hard drive, even though you never use that printer.

You also can fix this by opening a file in Outlook and ordering it printed. This brings up a display that includes a drop-down box that lists all the printers, with the one your Outlook is using listed first. You usually can fix this by selecting another printer. If that does fix it, change settings so that printer is the default for Outlook.

To do that, click on Start and Control Panel and then find the Printers and Faxes icon. Open it and check the box to change the default printer.

The second possibility is a corrupted document template that Word loads in Outlook mode but not when started as a stand-alone program. So open a Word document that was created in Outlook and click on Tools and then Options. In the tabbed menu this summons, pick File Locations. This will bring up a display showing the folder where your templates are stored.

If you click on the little arrow in the box showing the template, it will display a map showing its location. You can write that address down and then use the Windows Explorer file finder to go to that folder and delete the offending template.

My HP DeskJet670C printer has stopped working, and I am getting the following messages: "Rundll has caused an error in MMYSTEMDLL. Rundll will now close." I also received a message that No Default Printer selected. When I went into the Control Panel, I found the Default box was checked selecting this printer as my default. While fiddling around and running the test suggested by the HP Help Box, I came up with the message "HPftbxo8 caused error in MMYSTEMDLL HPftbxo8." ... Then came other error messages. Can you help me?

- Frank A. Felitti, Washington, N.J.

Because the HP Help program is causing errors in its own right, the solution is bothersome but not difficult. If you happen to have the discs that came with your printer, you should reinstall the software that includes the printer drivers and the Help program, both of which are corrupted.

If you don't have the software that came with the printer, you need to go to the HP Web site and download a fresh, and up-to-date, version. Point your browser to and look for the link to Software and Downloads. In that area, you can follow the prompts to find your printer and then download the drivers and allied software.

Is there a switch in Windows that can be set to give me complete control of the mouse focus? That is, when an application starts or alerts or whatever event that the programmers selected to steal the mouse focuses, can I force the operating system to not allow the focus to change without action on my part? Nothing is more annoying than to be working on an application and have another steal the mouse focus and whatever keystrokes were occurring at that time.

- Lance Jensen,

You need a tool called TweakUI, and I've had a devil of a time showing people how to find it. TweakUI is software to fine-tune Windows that is produced by Microsoft, but not included in Windows because it can cause mischief if used incorrectly. You should be able to find TweakUI by going to and using tweakui as a search term.

If that fails, then open Google and use TweakUI as a search term. There you will find links to this fascinating bit of software. When you've installed TweakUI, open it and select the General item at the top. There you will find a line called Hover. Open it and you will find a box that will "prevent applications from stealing focus."

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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