Outlook’s Preview Pane

Howdy, Howdy, Howdy! A great big welcome back to all of you there in Internet land to another fun filled edition of The Weekly Geek.

I hope all has been virus and worm free for you lately. I know I have been off my normal topics of computer optimization for a while but I feel that it is important to cover security in some detail. This is a topic that has been on my shoulders since I worked for Lockheed/NASA in the late 80’s.

This week I want to cover more security and safety tips in Microsoft’s Outlook.

For those of you who use Outlook Express, just follow the previous links and check out the articles written earlier for you. This week I want to talk about adjusting the Preview Pane.

Unlike the Outlook Express Preview Pane, Outlook’s Preview Pane is turned on or off by each individual folder (In OE turning it on or off affects all folders). You can, and should, turn off the Preview Pane for your Inbox to keep from activating trojans and viruses. For mail you have already looked at and moved to a different folder (even a sub folder under the Inbox), you can have the Preview Pane turned on. Many viruses and trojans are activated simply by opening an e-mail message, you do not need to do anything else, by not opening every e-mail you reduce the chance of infection. If you have the Preview Pane on and you click on a message to delete it, the message opens and an attack on your system occurs.Depending upon how you connect to the internet (High Speed, ISDN or Dial-up) and how you get your e-mail (POP or IMAP), turning off the Preview Pane can also increase performance.

Outlook needs to download the entire message in order to use the Preview Pane, without it the message only gets opened if the user chooses to read it. An alternative is to use the AutoPreview option, this does not require downloading the entire message. According to Microsoft just the first 254 bytes are downloaded.

Each byte is a character or space so you will only see the first part of the e-mail until you double-click on it to completely open it.

Internet performance is faster with both the Preview Pane and AutoPreview turned off and the likely hood of activating a virus or worm is decreased. The Preview Pane will activate viruses and many trojans, so it is my recommendation that you just turn it off of your Inbox. Lest we get too comfortable, a virus can be activated by the AutoPreview too.

Enough jabbering, let’s get something done. In Outlook version 98, 2000 and 2002 you will want to open Outlook, click one time on the Inbox to highlight it. Now on the Menu bar, across the top of the Outlook window, select View and on the drop down menu that appears.

Of the many choices Preview Pane and AutoPreview are two of them. If you have Outlook 98 and Preview Pane is turned on, you will see a check mark next to it, if you have Outlook 2000 and 2002 the icon next to the words will appear indented if it is on.

Click one time on Preview Pane. If you do want to see the AutoPreview you can select it here. Now if you have another folder that you want to be able to preview already read e-mails in, let’s say the Sent Items folder you can click one time on it and in the window see if the Preview Pane is turned on. If you want it on here then you can repeat the above process.

Again I recommend turning the Preview Pane and AutoPreview off for the Inbox but on any other folders it is up to you. You can have the Preview Pane turned off in the Inbox but turned on for any subfolders that are under the Inbox.

Man-o-man that was tough, so shake it off, go and get a cup of coffee. I know that seems a little short for action but hey you just saved yourself some virus headaches.

Stay tuned for next weeks blast from The Weekly Geek, when we will burn off fat with the flab-o-matic, or maybe not. How about I go over Rules in Outlook and show you how to have different e-mails go directly into different folders. Until then have a trojan free week