Straight Delete in Outlook

I learned something today that I want to pass on. In Outlook, when you delete an email it is designed to go into the Trash folder. This is useful if you might want to retrieve that email later. To delete it from there permanently though you have to select Empty Folder.

But supposing you want to delete it immediately because there’s no way you ever want to see it again (e.g. spam), which is the case for many emails I receive. It’s surprisingly easy. Hold the shift key down when you hit the Delete key. Now it’s gone for good.

This way you avoid the tedious two-step process to completely remove an email from your system.

Outlook 365 Manage Rules and Alerts not working

This morning, when I selected Manage Rules and Alerts, this popped up:

Outlook Manage Rules and Alerts error message

The problem did persist. I reinstalled Office using online repair and the problem remains.

I discovered the problem is quite new. Microsoft is aware of it and working on a solution. For those affected by this issue, we can only wait until the fix is made.

Special Characters NOT to Use in IMAP Folder Names

As I discovered when switching from a POP3 account to IMAP for Office 365, importing folder names containing certain characters will abort the process. These are:

~ ` ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ + = { } | [ ] \ : ” ; ‘ < > , . ? /

Some may get through, but I discovered two I was using certainly didn’t.

I used the tilde character (~) at the start of some folder names to indicate the contents were old and should soon be deleted. I also used the slash (/) within other folder names.

I had to clean up the PST account and re-export it before I could import it into the OST account (see PST vs OST).

Change Outlook Folder Sort Order

For many years, the sort order in Outlook was alphabetical, A to Z, and couldn’t be changed. However, after numerous calls by users for an option to allow free ordering, Microsoft finally introduced the feature in Outlook 2013.

The option is available in the Folders tab. It’s a toggle, and it retains your chosen sequencing should you temporarily revert to alphabetical.

Outlook folder sort order toggle
Outlook folder sort order toggle

Unselecting A to Z enables folders to be moved anywhere in the list, either by dragging the folder or using Move Up or Move Down when right-clicking the folder name:

Move Up/Down folder
Move Up/Down folder


I use a POP3 mail server, so I’ve always opted for a PST file when setting up a new account in Outlook. PST stands for Personal Storage Table. Outlook uses it to store all your email items, contacts, and calendar. It may be designated Outlook.pst or something like Either way, it resides in the Outlook Files folder of your Documents folder.

I recently installed Office 365 on a laptop and discovered that instead of PST I had an OST file. OST is the initialism for Offline Storage Table.

Because PST files are local, you can copy them to other PCs that have Outlook that uses a PST, provided you change the transferred file’s name to the existing one before replacing it. This isn’t possible with OST files, which are copies from the exchange server. When you disconnect from the Internet, the local copy gives you continued access to all the files. Once the Internet connection is restored, the local file is synced with the server’s file.

Unlike PST files, OST files cannot be backed up.

Locating Folder for Outlook Search Results

If, like me, you keep emails in separate folders for future reference and you’ve had cause to search for particular emails, you’ll know the results are displayed without mention of the folder where they are stored. For example:

Outlook folder search
Outlook folder search

To find the folder information, you need to select View > Reading Pane (or View > Layout > Reading Pane) and set it to Off. Now you will see the folder name:

Outlook folder reading pane
Outlook folder reading pane

After noting the folder name, return the View > Reading Pane to Right (the most usual setting).

Change Outlook Default File Location

Outlook’s default file location for attachments is Documents. This may not be where you want such files to be saved, given how large the Documents folder can get. You can of course modify this with Save As… but it would be better if the default location was your choice and not Microsoft’s. Unfortunately, Outlook doesn’t provide a setting to allow you to do that. But…

It is still possible to change the default location through the registry. First, however, you need to save a backup copy in case it doesn’t go as planned. To save the registry, at least the part you’re going to change, do this:

Open regedit by typing its name into the Run… dialog box at the Start menu (Windows key+R):

Regedit open
Regedit open

Click OK.

Place your cursor on HKEY_CURRENT_USER and right-click. From the context menu select Export.

Save Registry
Save Registry

Save the file. Now expand HKEY_CURRENT_USER until you are at


Right-click and create a string value called DefaultPath and set the new location.

Default path for Outlook folder
Default path for Outlook folder

Click OK and you’re done. Close Regedit.

If you run into problems (you shouldn’t if you followed these steps carefully), you can restore the registry by opening Regedit again and from the File menu selecting Import…


Office Memory Hogs

Three years ago, after building my new system, I noticed the CPU usage was typically approaching 50% while the system was idle. This was a concern because it generates unnecessary heat which in turn affects the CPU’s life span.

It was easy to identify the culprits: Microsoft Outlook 2013 and TrueImage Sync.

I didn’t need Sync, so I disabled that process. Outlook, though, seemed more problematic. I found the answer by Googling.

The problem wasn’t Outlook per se, but its add-ons.

The problem with add-ons has two dimensions. One is they are often installed without your knowledge; the other is they may not be efficient.

You can locate the add-ons by selecting File->Options->Add-Ins. At the bottom of the window is a drop-down menu labelled “Manage:”.

Manage COM-Add-Ins

Click Go…

COM Add-Ins

I deselected them all, as I don’t need them, but if I need one later, I can re-enable it.

My PC is now having a well-earned rest.