Wednesday, 14 December 2011


In my previous post titled "Outlook Keeps Shutting Down", I explained how to locate the outlook.pst file by obtaining the path to the file (checking the personal older under 'data management' which is found in the 'file' drop down menu of Microsoft Outlook). However, an anonymous commenter asked, "How do I locate PST file if Outlook won't open?". I was quick to provide an answer only to later realize that some important detail had escaped my attention. I therefore decided to write this blog post to address this issue in more detail and clarity.


Unless you have previously tinkered with your Outlook.pst file, the default path to this file is  C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst. Therefore, under normal circumstances you should be able to simple navigate to this file using Windows Explorer. However, Windows XP hides this file and many other from view by default. This is done for security issues. To confirm this, go to the Administrator folder and click on 'Select All' from the 'Edit' drop down menu. You will get a pop up informing you that some files cannot be selected because they are hidden and you need to change the settings using the Folder Options Control Panel.


  • To get to the Folder Options Control Panel go to the Start menu and click on Control Panel
  • Next, click on Appearance and Themes
  • Now click on Folder Options as shown below
  • Next, select the 'View' tab as shown below
  • Now click on the radio button "Show hidden files and folders" as shown below.

  • Finally, click on 'Apply' then 'OK'


Once you have changed the settings in your Folder Options Control Panel as demonstrated above, you can now easily navigate to the Outlook folder and locate the Outlook.pst file. Go to 'My computer--local disk C:--Documents and Settings--Administrator(or your user ID)--Local Settings-Application Data--Microsoft--Outlook.' The screen shots below demonstrate the path.

I hope that with this blog post I have adequately addressed the bothersome issue of locating the Outlook.pst file especially in cases where Outlook will not open. 

If your outlook PST file needs to be repaired, then consider getting a free Outlook PST repair tool

Leave a comment if you find this useful.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Outlook Keeps Shutting Down - 'Microsoft Outlook 2007 has Encountered a Problem and Needs to Close'

Have you recently suffered the excruciating annoyance of your Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 email program suddenly displaying the message "Microsoft Office Outlook has encountered a problem and needs to shut down"? This problem can happen over and over, greatly interfering with your ability to get any work done. Many of the solutions on the Internet refer users to PST (personal store) folders and PST files. But, what if you have no idea what a PST file or a PST folder is, does this mean you have to call in a professional IT support geek? Thankfully, after looking around for a fix, I found a fix that any non-techie can use to fix this problem without having to learn how to repair a PST file. Incidentally, PST files are the local data stores used by Outlook and they have a nasty tendency to become corrupted.

So here is the fix,

Step One - Run Office Diagnostics

Begin by running 'Office Diagnostics' from within Outlook 2007 as shown in the screen cap below:

In the screen that pops up, click 'continue' and Office Diagnostics will begin running checks to see if there are any problems with your email program as shown below:

If diagnostics finds any problems, follow the instructions provided to get a solution. However, in most cases, diagnostics may not find a problem and when you run Outlook you encounter the same problem. If this is the case, move on to step two.

Step Two - Run SCANPST.exe

SCANPST is an executable file (ending with the extension .exe i.e. the file name is scanpst.exe) and a utility repair tool that comes pre-installed by Microsoft to fix these PST file issues. You need to manually locate the file in your computer's program files and double click on it. The program files are normally found in this directory C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office. In Windows XP, go to "My Computer" then, 'Local Disk' and then open the 'Program Files' folder. Look for the SCANPST file under the 'Office 12' folder as shown below:
Before you run this repair tool, you need to locate your PST file. The easiest and fastest way to locate your personal folders (PST files are complex databases that store your contact information, emails etc) is to use Outlook 2007 to locate the files. In the file menu, go to 'Data File Management'. Click on 'Personal Folders' as shown below then 'Open Folder'.

Windows explorer opens the folder showing the location of the Outlook PST file as seen below:

You need to take note of the path to the PST file. In this example, the path is C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst. This is very important because you will need this information to run the SCANPST tool. If you cannot locate the Outlook.pst file because Outlook shuts down before you can get the path, read this post on how to locate outlook.pst file in XP.

Next, go back to your SCANPST tool and double click on it. You will get a pop up requesting the name of the file you want to scan. Enter the file name by specifying the full path to the file, for this example, C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst. See below:

Close Outlook before you click on 'Start'. The tool will then begin checking your personal folder for problems.

If a problem is found, it will request to perform a backup of the file before effecting repairs. Click on 'repair' and the tool commences to effect the repairs to your personal folder file. Once the scan is complete, you will get a pop up similar to the one below:

Click on 'OK' and restart Outlook 2007 and check if the problem repeats itself. To be completely sure, repeat the same process with the archive.pst file which is located in the same folder as the outlook.pst file.
This fix should solve most problems that report cause Outlook to shut down and report that 'Microsoft Office Outlook has encountered a problem and needs to close'.

Leave a comment if this fix worked for you or if you know of a better fix non-techie fix let me know about it.

If this fix does not work for you, try this free Advanced Outlook Repair Tool.

Suggested Reading
How to Recover a Lost Word Document

Monday, 28 March 2011

The File (.docx) Cannot be Opened because there are Problems with the Contents - Unspecified Error

There are a number of errors you receive from MS Word (.docx). However, the above error can be particularly annoying since none of the recommended fixes on the Microsoft site and in many of the help forums seems to work. The error "The file cannot be opened because there are problems with the contents" is easy to resolve. The error is an "Unspecified error" and a screen prompt usually provides information on where the error is located in the Word XML file (the exact line and column). Personally, when I tried to fix the document using the "open and repair" feature it did not work. I then got some information from the Microsoft site with some very complicated instructions about unzipping the Word file to get the XML document, editing it  and then zipping it back. I found all of this very confusing and cumbersome.

However, I stumbled upon a quick and easy work around and this is how it works (You will need to use Internet Explorer browser for this fix to work):

Step one - Open a Microsoft live or Hotmail account if you don't already have one. If you do log in.

Step two - On the top menu, hover your mouse on "Office" and then click on "your documents" as shown in the screen capture below.

Step three - Next, navigate to "Add files" as shown below. Select the corrupted .docx file from the location on your computer and upload it to Office docs.

Step four - Go to "My Documents" and click on "Edit in Browser" as shown in the screen capture below.

Step five - The .docx file will open in the browser. Kindly note that this is the reason you need to use Internet Explorer. This feature does not work in Mozilla or Chrome.

Note: from the screen shot you have the option of opening the document in Word. However, you need to fix the document before opening it word. This error is found in documents with a "table of contents". Normally, the document gets corrupted while you are in the process of saving it and Word is no longer able to read the table of contents. The solution is to delete the table of contents, click "save" and then open the document in word by clicking on the "open in word" icon. This launches MS Word 2007 on your computer and voila! the document opens but without the table of contents. All you now need to do is to rebuild your table of contents and save the document again.

This fix has worked wonderfully for me on two occasions when large documents which both had a table of contents got corrupted. I was able to recover them using this method in less than five minutes. For some reason, the documents can be opened online but cannot open locally on your computer. There appears to be a bug in MS Word 2007 (.docx) which the guys at Microsoft do not want to admit to. All other fixes recommended on their website DO NOT work. I am not sure if the same fix works with Google Docs, I suspect it might though there is the limitation that you can only upload documents up to 1mb which is quite limiting if you work with large documents. Microsoft Office Live Workspace is one of the best online backup service and allows you to upload a document as large as 25MB.
I will post an update once I test this fix on Google Docs for small documents of less than 1MB ... or you can try it out yourself and post a comment back here letting us know if it works.

See Part II of this fix or try Free Word Recovery Software.

Suggested Reading
How to Recover a Lost Word Document

Monday, 14 March 2011

The File (.docx) Cannot be Opened because there are Problems with the Contents - Unspecified Error: Part II

This is a quick update on the first post regarding the Word 2007 (.docx) error "The File Cannot be Opened because there are Problems with the Contents - Unspecified Error". I just realized that sometimes the fix in the first post may not work especially if the file is large (over 1mb).

If using Windows Live Workspace does not work, I found another nifty way to open the corrupted .docx document online and delete the table of contents. This is how it works:

Step one - Go to, select document management and  open a free account
Step two - In Zoho writer, go to "file", then "import". Select the corrupted .docx document from the location in your computer and click "ok". The import/upload process begins.
Step three - After successful import, the document should open and all you need to do is to locate the table of contents and delete it
Step four - Go to "file" then click on "export" and select ".docx". Select the location you would like to save your file on your computer and download begins.
Step five - Open the file in Word and you should not get the error "The File Cannot be Opened because there are Problems with the Contents - Unspecified Error" again.

Leave a comment if this fix works for you. If none of these fixes work for you, you can always try Free Word Recovery Software.

Suggested Reading
How to Recover a Lost Word Document