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Microsoft Outlook registry setting saves all raw email data

You can easily view the headers of any email in Microsoft Outlook, but the entire raw text of the message isn't visible by default. SearchExchange.com contributor Serdar Yegulalp explains how you can save and see all raw email data in Microsoft Outlook via a simple registry setting.

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Whenever Microsoft Outlook receives an email, it "dissects" the message and stores its components separately. Headers and attachments are detached from the email body and broken out individually.

You can easily view the headers of any email in Microsoft Outlook by selecting View -> Options -> Internet headers. But the raw text of the whole message isn't visible by default.

Even if you save the message to a standalone file, it's not the same as the originally received message -- the data is still in Microsoft Outlook's slightly mangled form.

Sometimes though, it's useful to have access to all the raw data of a Microsoft Outlook email. For instance, if a message's header or encoding is garbled, you might want to try to decode it manually using the raw data. Or, you might want to preserve the original message as a way of conforming to internal procedures or legal compliance.

The good news is that you can configure Microsoft Outlook to preserve a full copy of the original message by simply editing a registry setting.

The bad news is that it'll only work on newly received messages. It won't work for messages already sitting in a message store. For that reason, this is probably most useful as a post-install tweak.

  1. In the registry, open HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\Options\Mail.

  2. Create a new DWORD value named SaveAllMIMENotJustHeaders and set it to 1.

  3. Restart Microsoft Outlook (if it's running), and wait for a new email to arrive.

  4. Open a new message and select View -> Options -> Internet headers to view the full raw text of the email now preserved there.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter.


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I'm curious, what does this do to the message storage requirements? Is it now storing the message twice or anything like that?
—Peter R.

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This will definitely increase the amount of storage required for each email. As you stated, it must store a full copy of the raw text along with the processed version of the email used internally by Microsoft Outlook.
—Serdar Yegulalp, tip author

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This tip sounds great; it describes exactly what I was looking. The only problem is that it didn't work for me.

The headers alone are visible in View -> Options -> InternetHeaders," but not the original raw text. I double checked the registry settings -- they are exactly as defined in the instructions. The end result is that no change is apparent between "before" and "after."

Do you have any idea what could be wrong?
—Jerry S.

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I've been able to get this to work on a number of different systems, so the only possibilities I can cite are the following:

  1. The spelling of the DWORD value name is still wrong. Make sure there are no trailing spaces in the name; sometimes that will mess things up.
  2. The tip only works on newly-received mail after the change has been made. It doesn't expose the source for messages that have already been received. Other members wrote to me about this and didn't realize that I had mentioned this in the body of the tip.

I hope this helps!
—Serdar Yegulalp, tip author


Do you have comments on this tip? Let us know.

Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Tip: Understanding email headers
  • Tip: How phishers forge email headers
  • Learning Center: The Microsoft Outlook Toolbox
  • Step-by-Step Guide: Email compliance to-do list
  • Reference Center: Microsoft Outlook tips and resources
  • Reference Center: Email compliance tips and resources

    Please let others know how useful this tip was via the rating scale below. Do you have a useful Exchange Server or Microsoft Outlook tip, timesaver or workaround to share? Submit it to SearchExchange.com. If we publish it, we'll send you a nifty thank-you gift.

  • This was last published in October 2006

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