Simple fix for getting Outlook back to speed

Question: Recently, Microsoft Outlook started taking an extraordinary amount of time to open

e-mail attachments in Word. I've scanned for viruses and the like to no avail.

Both Word and Internet Explorer open quickly independently. It's just when accessed from Outlook that it takes so long. Any thoughts?

- Roger Carroll, Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Answer: There are two things that most commonly make Word kick into extreme slow motion, Mr. C. First, the printer settings in Outlook are bollixed, and so when Word opens and starts hunting for a printer as it does at every startup, it keeps looking and looking and looking. The second most common cause is a corrupted template file that gets loaded when Word opens in Outlook.

First, the printer issue: Outlook can get pointed at a network printer instead of the one you use in Word when it runs alone. Unlike the printers on your desktop, there are potentially infinite printers on a network. So the software keeps looking. If you are using a network, you need to find the software for the printer in question and load those drivers onto your own hard drive, even though you never use that printer.

You also can fix this by opening a file in Outlook and ordering it printed. This brings up a display that includes a drop-down box that lists all of the printers, with the one your Outlook is using listed first. You usually can fix this by selecting another printer. If that does fix it, change settings so that printer is the default for Outlook.

To do that, click on Start and Control Panel and then find the Printers and Faxes icon. Open it and check the box to change the default printer.

The second possibility is a corrupted document template that Word loads in Outlook mode but not when started as a stand-alone program. So open a Word document that was created in Outlook and click on Tools and then Options. In the tabbed menu this summons, pick File Locations. This will bring up a display showing the folder where your templates are stored.

If you click on the little arrow in the box showing the Template, it will display a map showing its location. You can write that address down and then use the Windows Explorer file finder to go to that folder and delete the offending template.

Contact Jim Coates via e-mail at or via snail mail at the Chicago Tribune, Room 400, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago IL 60611.