Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

The back and forth – problems with Microsoft’s “fix” for Outlook

Posted by shannonclark on April 22, 2005

Okay so as many of you know I am organizing a fantastic conference in a few days, MeshForum 2005 (don’t forget to register – if you read this, you can use the Academic price of $499.50 if you haven’t already gotten an even better offer from me or another group…)

As part of that process I am sending out a batch of 800 some emails this evening reminding people to register and especially to reserve their hotel rooms at the Essex Inn by Monday April 25th to receive the MeshForum group rate of $129/night (again if you read this and happen to be coming to Chicago May 1-4th, you can also get this great rate…).

So, to avoid sending out an email with a blank to line (i.e. by sending to everyone as a bcc:ed message) I am using Microsoft Office 2003’s mail merge feature, something I have done many times in the past to somewhat good success.

However, this time around I have encountered a very serious “fix” that is giving me “fits”.

Unknown to me, a recent security patch (recent I conclude since it did not behave this way a few months back when I last did a mail merge) has changed how Microsoft Office handles mail merges (specifically how it handles any VBA action to send mail)

It now pops up a notice PER EMAIL that “A program is trying to send email on your behalf…”

You have to select yes.

As a further “feature” the “yes” button is GREYED OUT for 5 seconds each time this message is popped up…

In other words to send out 800+ mail merged emails, I have to click on the yes button 800+ times, and wait OVER 66 minutes while doing nothing but selecting yes every five seconds.

No “yes to all”, no “yes to all for the next 10 minutes” or “yes to all for the next 100 messages”, no way apparently to change this behavior, no notification about what will happen – just a really annoying new “feature” to attempt to prevent outbound emails/viruses.

Enough to make me seriously consider switching to another application – and I am a serious, heavy duty, power user of Outlook 2003 (over 2 gigs of email, 500+ messages a day, lots of rules and plugins etc) – but if I can’t use real, useful, features such as mail merge how I want to – and in a way that actually, in fact, saves me time and effort – then what value is the tool?

Very annoying.


2 Responses to “The back and forth – problems with Microsoft’s “fix” for Outlook”

  1. jackvinson said

    Shannon, did you get any solutions to this problem? I need to do a mail merge, and ran into exactly the same silliness. Yeesh.


  2. Craig said

    I hit this issue today…

    I found a deceptively simple way to get around this, if you are using an external program for the bulk mail out. (I’m using MS Access)

    Don’t use Outlook.

    I got around this issue by running Outlook Express side by side with Outlook.

    1 – Start outlook express and tell it that its your default mail program.

    2 – Set up an account with a false POP3 server (I called my POP3 Server “donotuse”) but with your normal SMTP server. This lets Express send e-mails but it will not download any, which leaves you free to use Outlook for all your regular email.

    3 – Go to Tools > Options > Security and uncheck “Warn me when other programs try to send mail as me”

    4 – (Optional) Go to Tools > Options > Send and uncheck “Send Messages Immediately”

    Even with Outlook running and Express shutdown, Express will automatically send your emails for you, and will not bother to ask, nor make you wait 5 seconds between emails.

    I made Step 4 optional:

    If you leave it checked, then you just start your bulk email and walk away, all your messages will be sent, but it will wait between each message. (I am running VBA code in Access and it waits for each e-mail to send before generating the next one.)

    If you uncheck “Send Immediately” then your bulk emails are generated much faster, but then you need to start Express to kick off the actual Send.

    Probably best to do a trial run to see which option works best for you.

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