Reader finds glitch in e-mail program

Question: My computer runs on Windows Vista Premium and I use Windows Mail for e-mail. I am having an issue with e-mail contacts not being recognized when I type the first letter of a person's name or e-mail address. They are listed in my contacts; I can select them manually from the address book.

Answer: There have been complaints that Windows Mail, the successor to Outlook Express featured in the Vista operating system, doesn't do this "auto-complete" function as smoothly as Outlook Express did.

Users are finding that only the last 13 to 26 addresses they've typed in are available for auto-complete, not the entire list of contacts. Some have been able to nudge auto-complete into looking into the whole contacts list by typing at least three letters, then the Tab key.

Those who do get auto-complete working often complain that one typo in an e-mail address will create a seemingly permanent auto-complete entry that pops up every time you try to type the correct address.

The delay it creates in Vista sometimes means people don't see what they typed for several seconds. That's why many people end up turning off the auto-complete feature altogether under Tools/ Options/ Send.

Some say the auto-complete problems are indeed a bug that's been fixed in the upcoming Windows Live Mail. An early "beta" version for the desktop is available here:

Q: I copied, or thought I copied, my Outlook Express folders to a thumb drive. When I checked to be sure, all had DBX extensions. I couldn't open them.

A: Don't worry, you did everything right. Anytime you want to use those folders again in Outlook Express, you can import them and use them. You can't open them because they have no function outside of storing messages for use within Outlook Express.

Tim Henderson is database editor for the Miami Herald's computer-assisted reporting team. Send questions to