Utility helps admins manage Office add-ins

Third-party add-ins for Microsoft Office can be a huge help. I depend daily on an Outlook add-in called Lookout, a high-speed indexed search function that not only searches my email but my desktop documents as well.

But sometimes, third-party add-ins are more hindrance than help: I've written in the past about the Word add-in for Norton AntiVirus that did more harm than good and often caused Word to become highly unstable.

If you have a bunch of Office add-ins and are trying to make sense of them, here's a utility that ought to help:

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NirSoft's OfficeIns. As with all the other NirSoft tools, there's no installation; just unpack it and run it in any directory. Multiple-language versions are also available for people not using the English edition of Windows. When run, it iterates through all the installed Office applications (including apps in different editions of Office) and produces a grid report of all the add-ins loaded for each product. Supported applications include Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, Access, Visio and FrontPage.

Each add-in entry lists several key pieces of data: the name of the add-in, the program it's been written for, its startup mode (more on this below), its Registry key location and CLSID (class ID) and the physical location of the add-in's files. Double-click on an entry and the results come up in a dialog box, and you can use command-line or program-menu options to export the results to an HTML or plaintext report. You can also jump directly to the program's Registry entries with a single keystroke.

The program also lets you control the start mode for each add-in. Add-ins can start up in one of four ways: They can be disabled entirely, they can load along with the program they're part of, they can load as needed (on-demand) or load the first time they're used and remain persistent. This way, you can disable any add-ins that might be causing problems without having to launch the program in question at all.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the  Windows Power Users Newsletter, which is devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP users and administrators. He has more than 10 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

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This was first published in October 2006

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