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What to Do When Outlook Express Stationery Does Not Work


You have spotted that lovely Outlook Express stationery on the Web, downloaded and installed it, and of course you try it right away. But the first message with the wonderful new stationery is missing all images and sounds, and there's no animation anywhere either. What has happened?

If you can see the images but recipients cannot, make sure Outlook Express is set to send them (as attachments) with the emails. If you cannot see any images as you compose either, you may have to dig deeper.

Outlook and Outlook Express expect to find stationery in a standard directory. For the English version of Windows, the directory is "C:\­Program Files\­Common Files\­Microsoft Shared\­Stationery\". Unfortunately, international versions of Windows have a different standard directory for stationery.

This has two consequences:

  • You have to install stationery in your stationery folder for Outlook and Outlook Express to readily find it.
  • The stationery often does not work as expected.

Images and sound files in stationery are not included in the stationery file itself, but linked to and referenced by their location. In a lot of stationery, these links include the full directory path. An image is referenced as "C:\­Program Files\­Shared Files\­Microsoft Shared\­Stationery\­image.jpg" (called absolute path) for example. Outlook and Outlook Express won't be able to find the file at this location. It should look under the localized directory instead.

One way to achieve this is to

  • remove all directory information

and reference the file just by its name: "image.jpg" (called relative path). This tells Outlook and Outlook Express to look for the file in the directory the stationery is. Usually, this will be the right, localized, directory. So to make stationery work, you have to change all absolute paths to relative ones.

For this, we have to edit the HTML source in Outlook Express. The editing itself is as simple as looking for any "C:\­Program Files\­Shared Files\­Microsoft Shared\­Stationery\" and deleting it.

To fix stationery:

  • Create a new message using the stationery.
  • Go to the Source tab.
  • Look for full paths (starting with "C:\") and
  • delete everything but the file name.
    • If a tag is '<img src="C:\­Program Files\­Shared Files\­Microsoft Shared\­Stationery\­image.jpg">', for example, make sure it is '<img src="image.jpg">' after the editing.

Eventually, you can select the Preview tab in Outlook Express to (finally!) see the stationery in its full glory.

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