Well of all the Microsoft applications it does have the best sense of humor - so what do you expect? I received an email from a sweet gent I met at the ABA Spring meeting a few weeks back about Outlook's "goofy" behavior. He wrote:
The one Office program that remains an enigma to me is OUTLOOK. I hesitate to use the "contact" and calendar features, because of its vulnerability to trojans, worms, and viruses. And I just recently bought a new XP computer with Outlook 2003, because Outlook 2000 on my W98 computer would crash every other time I replied to a message. (Outlook 2003 has done that once or twice, so something is still goofy.)
This is my biggest question, however. Do you have any strategies for "saving" email messages in a format other than an archived Outlook .pst file, that can be text searched and identifies who it came from in the file name? If you just save it as a txt file, you need to rename it because it names it as the subject. That won't work for a string of replies. My inbox and sent folders are huge.
First, you're crazy...with up-to-date and proper virus protection, you shouldn't be afraid to use Outlook. It's an amazing tool for organizing your time and data, so get on it. (Sometimes I have to use Tough Love with these attorneys.)
Sounds to me like your issues with OL could be because your PST file (your entire Outlook file) is too big. If I remember correctly, you're either a solo or with a small firm and likely not running Exchange Server (which allows very large Outlook files). Outlook PST files take a BIG HUGE dump at 2 gigs. So you definitely need to keep an eye on it and archive regularly. Here is a link explaining the PST file size issue (and a bunch of other things) and then another link to a handy utility you can use regularly to run some maintenance on that PST.
Now, as for archiving. If you havent bought it yet, then this will be the BEST reason ever to dole out the dollars for a very important tool: Acrobat 8 Professional. It will allow you to point and click at a folder in Outlook and convert that entire folder into an organized and searchable PDF file from which you can manipulate emails individually (that is still pull out only certain pages to forward on if you have to). It does convert all the emails to PDF (does not leave them in native Outlook format) as if you had printed them to paper and filed them in a cabinet. You can search for text, sort by sender or sort by date.
So if you're having Outlook issues, try running "the fix" to your PST file. First, you will need to search for a file called "scanpst.exe" located somewhere on your computer. When you perform the search be sure to go to the Advanced Options and put checks in the Search System and Search Hidden boxes. Once you find it, you will need to point to your PST file. The easiest way to find that is to open Outlook, go to File > Data File Management > Highlight your PST file (it's the one that says Mail Delivery...) and then select Open Folder. That opens an explorer window to the exact location of your PST. You can copy and paste the address from the the address bar into ScanPST after you hit the browse button. But don't forget - big is not always better and if you have a large PST file, you need to purge.
And one last piece of advice, spend the money - get Acrobat 8 Professional...but most important, be sure you take the time to learn how to use it. You will be amazed and your practice will be better for it.