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Troubleshooting Microsoft Outlook third-party add-ins

Third-party add-ins can enhance Microsoft Outlook's functionality, but sometimes they hurt Microsoft Outlook's behavior and performance. contributor Serdar Yegulalp explains three ways to troubleshoot adverse effects of Microsoft Outlook third-party add-ins.

A lot of software and even some hardware devices have add-ins to expand their functionality in other programs....

Microsoft Outlook has such add-ins available for it, but both users and administrators need to be wary -- these add-ins can negatively impact Microsoft Outlook's behavior and performance.

The detrimental effect of these add-ins may not be obvious. One example is the Broadcom Bluetooth networking driver, which includes an add-in for Microsoft Outlook. Version 3 of the driver caused Microsoft Outlook to crash; Version 5 fixes the issue.

The most common ways to troubleshoot the detrimental effects of Microsoft Outlook third-party add-ins:

  • Update the component: If an updated version is available, it may repair any bad interactions.
  • Remove the component: If the Microsoft Outlook add-in isn't crucial for day-to-day operations, it may be best to remove it. This can be accomplished by either uninstalling the Microsoft Outlook-specific component using the add-in's uninstaller, or deselecting the object in Microsoft Outlook's Add-In Manager (if it's available there as a manageable component).
  • Temporarily work around the issue: Launch Microsoft Outlook while holding down the Ctrl key. Outlook will then start up in safe mode without loading any third-party add-ins.

This predicament isn't limited to third-party add-ins for Microsoft Outlook, but extends through other Microsoft Office products as well. For instance, the Symantec Norton Anti-Virus plug-in, which was intended to scan Microsoft Word documents for viruses, had the unintended side effect of making Word extremely unstable; it would often crash as soon as it was launched. Since it conferred little advantage that wasn't already provided by Norton Anti-Virus as a whole, the best thing to do was disable it.

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

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