IT Connect
Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Using Outlook

Tips for using Outlook

  • SPAM!  See these instructions for Blocking Spam.
  •  Use the in-program Help feature (the question mark in the upper right corner).  Many answers to your questions are available in this resource.
  • Always use Scheduling Assistant to invite people and resources to a meeting.
  • Out of Office Message?  Always use Outlook Web Access (OWA).  Click Options, then Set Automatic Replies.
  • View others’ calendars in OWA:  Open the calendar, Click Share in the menu bar.
  • Exchange Calendar: The Cornell University IT Department has provided some tips on using the Exchange Calender effectively: The Short Version and the Full Text
  • Upon initial login to your Outlook account, check the box “Remember my Credentials” if you do not wish to be prompted for login information each time you open your Outlook account.

Outlook corrupt profile workarounds

In cached mode, or even in non-cached mode, occasionally the local mailbox cache file can become corrupted or exhibit odd behavior.  Symptoms can include:

  • meeting information that does not match with OWA
  • frequent sync errors
  • poor performance
  • an OST cache file many GB larger than the actual size

Strategy 1:  Often, removing the cache file and allowing Outlook to download a fresh copy will resolve these problems.


    1. Locate cache file:  C:\Users\[netid]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\
    2. Locate any .OST files.  Typically the cache file will be named <profilename>.ost OR and should have a recent modified date
    3. Make sure Outlook is closed and rename the .ost file (e.g. .ost.old).
    4. If you get an error about not being able to rename the file, you may also need to close and exit Lync.
    5. Open Outlook and it will automatically generate a new .ost file.

Strategy 2:  If the problem is not resolved:

    1. again make sure Outlook is closed
    2. move all files in this folder to a new location (e.g. “old” or “deleteme”, etc).
    3. Open Outlook again and it should regenerate all files and folders automatically.

If the problem is resolved, you can delete the renamed files and folders to reclaim disk space.

Other locations that contain Outlook configuration files:


These files are typically look and feel settings for Outlook.  Outlook will recreate these automatically as well.  Removing them will cause some Outlook configurations to be reset back to the default.

The outlook.srs file in this location contains “Send and Receive Settings” and renaming or deleting it and allowing it to be recreated can resolve errors with sending and receiving in Outlook.

Using cached mode

  • Cached Mode stores a copy of your mailbox on your local computer for quick access to your data. Any changes you make are synchronized periodically with the server whenever a connection is available.   Cached Mode does not provide “real time” updates to your views of other account data.

    Do not use cached mode if:

    • you are engaged in a “delegate” relationship in any way
    • you have been granted “shared” access to other calendars (Note: granting shared access is almost never necessary; use the Scheduling Assistant instead.)

    Enabling Cached Mode

    • Open Account Settings:  Outlook 2010 and 2013: Click on File – Info – Account Settings – Account Settings.
    • Make sure the Microsoft Exchange account is selected and click Change.
    • Check the box marked Use Cached Exchange Mode

Common Problems

Any problem with Outlook:  Try these steps first:

    • Close and Restart Outlook
    • Open a web browser and log in to Outlook Web Access (OWA) Does the problem occur there?
    • Problem with Log In – make sure you use to login to OWA.

Outlook is slow or unavailable

    • Slowness is not uncommon since our Exchange servers are no longer on Campus.  Expect delays, but if problems persist, try the next steps.
    • Check your network connectivity
    • Use cached mode
    • Use Outlook Web Access

Undeliverable messages – usually caused by a corrupted cached address

  • Open an new email message
  • Begin to type in the name of the person whose message was undeliverable
  • When the name appears in the drop-down box, highlight the name and press the Delete key.
  • On your next email to that person, begin to type in the name or UW NetID, and click the Check Names icon to get the correct address.

Recipients can’t read my email – likely because your default email format is HTML

  • Change your email format to Plain Text or Rich Text
  • Go to the File Tab, Choose Options, then Mail, and change the default format

Your mailbox is getting full and you can’t send email.

  • With 50GB of space for each user, it is unlikely that you’re going to run out of room.  Here are some tips just in case.
  • Ask Nebula for help.
  • Email Best Practices: what emails must be retained and for how long

Microsoft online training tools

Microsoft has many helpful online tools, linked from the Help feature within Outlook: hit F1, or click on Help – Microsoft Office Help.  You may also directly to the Microsoft Office Training Page.

Last reviewed August 22, 2018