Monday, May 1, 2006

What to do when reminders go kapooie


By David Gewirtz

Outlook's reminders are very helpful tools, but they seem to generate more confusion than virtually any other feature of Outlook. This week, we have two Outlook 2003 reminder problems and, hopefully, some solutions that might help you fix your problems as well.

David Albin says:

Help! Outlook reminders went kapooie.
I am in the process of combining a lot of databases into Outlook 2003. I put in the contacts and started to schedule follow-ups and that was all wonderful. The reminders came up just ducky.
Then I imported my emails and email address books from Outlook Express. All the emails and all the contacts from Outlook Express showed up. Now all the reminders remain as I sent them, however they are not triggering any alarms. What do I do?

In a similar vein, Phil Massie writes:

Hello there. I was wondering if you may be able to help me.
I'm having a problem getting any of my calendar items reminders to work when I set any recurrance on them. In other words, I add a new entry, and set a reminder. Save and close, and it works fine. If, however, I either change that entry, or create a new one with any kind on recurrance in it, the reminder doesn't work.
If I then open a recurring item, the "series" shows a checked reminder box, while the "occurence" does not.
I'm using a .pst file which I've had for years, since Office 97, through Office 2000 and Office XP and now Office 2003. Reminders have always worked in the past, although one thing I've noticed is that in the past, when I've added a birthday to a contact, the contact shows an attachment. This doen't seem to happen any more.
Having recently upgraded to Win XP and Office 2003, from Win2K and Office XP, I'm a little frustrated. One last thing to point out is that I've done all the online updates for Office 2003. Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Outlook 2003 vs. Outlook Express

Let's start off on David's problem by understanding the difference between Outlook 2003 and Outlook Express as they relate to reminders and calendars. Both Outlook 2003 and Outlook Express have Address Book and Contacts folders to store and retrieve email addresses.

Only Outlook 2003 has a fully integrated Calendar, including meeting and event scheduling, appointments, and group calendars. Likewise, only Outlook has reminders for email messages, calendar events, tasks, and notes. Outlook Express does not have either of these key features.

Here's what I suspect happened to David's reminders. He first created contacts in Outlook 2003 and scheduled reminders. Then he imported contacts from Outlook Express. My guess is that he imported some contacts from Outlook Express that were the same as contacts he already had in Outlook, and since Outlook Express doesn't support reminders, the reminder data got cleared during the import.

We'll talk more about this in a minute, but first, let's check in on Phil.