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Outlook Express obsolete addresses

Posted on 2011-05-12
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I use OE and need to move to a new ISP, changing email addresses. I need to notify my correspondents but many of the addresses in my address book are obsolete.

What is the best way to determine when a particular address in the address book was last used?

Many thanks.
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Question by:Peborgh
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by:John Hurst
ID: 35746139
Look in your sent folder and other folders in Outlook Express and sort by date to check the addresses and the age of the email. That is probably the easiest approach. ... Thinkpads_User
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Expert Comment

by:redeinterna
ID: 35746190
If the addresses are obsolete, the recipient server might send a NDR.
if you dens an email to all the addresses in BCC (20 at a time) the ones that return a ndr are obsolete
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Author Comment

by:Peborgh
ID: 35746542
By obsolete, I meant those that I have not sent anything to for a (long) while. Sorry if I was ambiguous.

There is no tool that will do what I want, then? Only there are a LOT of addreses to be scrutinised and it would be nice if I coud end up with a list of addresses and, next to them, the latest use date of them. Hope springs eternal.

peter
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 35747717
An address entry in Outlook (or Outlook Express) does not contain any information as to when it was last used, so there is no tool to do what you want. You can only search through emails to see when it was last used.
... Thinkpads_User
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Author Comment

by:Peborgh
ID: 35784538
OK, is there a way to export emails to a .CSV or similar?

Thanks,

peter
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by:John Hurst
ID: 35784773
I do not think so. Outlook Express has an Export function, but for messages, that Export is for moving mail to Outlook or Exchange. The emails are stored in .DBX files and so far as I kknow, you cannot convert them to .CSV files.

What is obsolete is for the user to decide, so I have never seen a function to do this. I think you will have to work part by memory and part by sorting through your emails. .... Thinkpads_User
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by:huacat
ID: 35795033
If you using Outlook (not outlook express), there have an add-on named "xobni", can statistic and give the report you wanted.
So if you upgrade from OE to outlook, import all mails and contacts, then you got it.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 35795062
The original post said Outlook Express pretty clearly.  But perhaps Peborgh will want to upgrade.
... Thinkpads_User
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Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 35801551
Hi Peter

When you asked:
"OK, is there a way to export emails to a .CSV or similar?"
what was it that you were thinking about trying out?

Are you looking for a way to look at when the messages were last sent to particular email addresses and get the most recent date stamp?

If so, then perhaps I can help with this.

You will no doubt now be intimately familiar with how to locate your Outlook Express "Store Folder" where your DBX files are following your other question here:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Q_27022585.html
(summary: "Sent Items.dbx" had grown too large and messages were not being moved there from Outbox after sending.  Messages were archived into other folders, DBX file was deleted and opening OE recreated it.)

It is possible to extract all the messages from any of the DBX files (the ones that store messages, not eg. folders.dbx) to separate *.eml files using a simple unpacking program that I can provide details for.  The headers of *.eml files are editable in a standard text editor, and can therefore be parsed using some quite simple commands which could get you the information you need into a report.

If this IS what you were intending to try, then I will provide details.  No sense in typing it all up here if that wasn't what you were thinking about.

Bill
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Author Comment

by:Peborgh
ID: 35801633
Plaese provide details, BillDL. I had actually thought of this but was trying to work out how to ahead from having the .emls...

I want a list of addresses and the latest date they had something sent by me, so that I know who needs to know my new email address.

Many thanks,

peter

PS I am away for a week now so you have a bit of time to get back to me.
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Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 35801731
By the way, you can get the "To: " and "Date: " lines from a copy of one of your DBX files with the following batch file (replace the name of the 2nd line) run in the same folder as your DBX file.
 
@echo off  
if exist _Headers.txt del _Headers.txt > nul  
for /f "tokens=* delims=" %%a in ('findstr /i /l /g:_strings.txt "FileName.dbx"') do @echo "%%a">>_Headers.txt  
pause

Open in new window

Just create a file named "_strings.txt" in the same folder and add to it just two lines, each with ONE SINGLE trailing space after the : symbol.

To:
Date:

The resultant report file would probably contain a bunch of odd symbols and some extraneous bits of other lines along with the data, and it's not in the most useful format anyway, because it's one line for each "To: " and "Date: " line found in the order that the data is found.  What I would hope to do instead would be to get the same lines from extracted *.eml files into a Comma Separated Values (*.csv) file that can be filtered in Excel, but I'm not sure yet whether I could achieve accurate results.
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Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 35801748
He, he.  Wasn't sure if you were "online" at the moment.  I probably will need a week to test out a few things.  I'm glad  read your mind, and will try my best.
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Accepted Solution

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BillDL earned 2000 total points
ID: 35809932
Hi Peter

I have messed around with lots of different "batch" methods to extract the "Sent date" and email addresses from *.DBX files, and/or *.EML files.  Basically what I was trying to do was to get the first 6 or 7 lines which are very standard and plain text in *.EML files extracted from Outlook Express *.DBX files, or simply dragged and dropped from OE out into a folder, and sort them into a logical order.  Those lines contain, in order, the From, To, Cc, Bcc, Subject, and Date fields, but I kept ending up with oddities to screw up the plan.

For example, in my OE *.EML messages when viewed in a text editor display the time stamp as eg:  Tue, 4 Sep 2007 16:08:54 +0100  which wasn't easy to work with.

Additionally, the occasional "References: " line (falling between the To, or Cc, or Bcc and the Subject line) meant that I couldn't rely on a line number to accurately reflect the contents expected to be on that line.

I was about to throw in the towel when I remembered an old command line program that I had previously used to convert Outlook Express 5/6 *.DBX files to the older OE 4 *.MBX format, and also to extract the contents of *.DBX files to separate *.EML files for the purpose of getting the recipient email addresses from them.

I have written a batch file that creates a *.CSV report with columns populated by (in order) Date Sent, Recipient(s) Name(s), Recipient(s) Email Address(es), and a truncated Subject Line for basic identification.

It is not failsafe, however, and here are the issues that I should explain in advance:

1. It does not capture the Cc or Bcc lines.
2. Where multiple recipients are in the To: field, it will only capture about 3 names and email addresses
3. Of lesser importance, where the Subject Line contains commas, opening the CSV file in Excel will see these as field separators and create additional E, F, etc columns with partial text strings.

If any of these are of concern, such as you being in the habit of using the Cc and Bcc lines regularly and the recipient email addresses from them being a requirement, then this batch file isn't going to be a solution for you.

Prerequisites:

1. I suggest creating a new folder with a short directory path such as "C:\EML_DBXs"

2. Download DBXCONV version 1.3.3 (February 2nd, 2009) by Ulrich Krebs:
http://www.ukrebs-software.de/english/dbxconv/dbxconv.html
Direct link:
REM http://www.ukrebs-software.de/download/dbxconv/dbxconv.zip

3. Unzip it to "C:\EML_DBXs"

4. COPY one of your *.DBX files that you know to contain sent messages into the SAME FOLDER.

5. Download the following batch file to the SAME FOLDER:
  Get-Eml-Headers.txt

6. Open the file in Windows Notepad and optionally change two lines to reflect your DBX file name and the name you want for your report.  Save and rename it, changing the .TXT extension to .CMD.

7. Double-Click and Run it.  It should create a new folder, extract the EML files from the DBX file, parse them and create a CSV report in the same file as the batch file, then remove the new folder of extracted EMl files when done.

8. Open your CSV file in Excel or other spreadsheet software, autosize the columns, and create AutoFilters to thin out the data.  Optionally Save as Excel spreadsheet or back to CSV if you intend appending other reports to it or doing further batch file filtering.

*** I suggest renaming your report at this stage so that it won't be overwritten when you process other DBX files ***

Alternatively, you can change the report name when you now copy another DBX file into that folder and edit the DBX file name in the batch file.

Hopefully this will at least het you part of the way towards ascertaining the most recent date that you emailed particular contacts.

Regards

Bill
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Author Comment

by:Peborgh
ID: 35873030
I am grateful for the trouble you went to, BillDL ,and I will get to this towards week's end and let you know what happens.

Many thanks,

peter
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Author Comment

by:Peborgh
ID: 35886695
It worked, yeah verily, as unto a marvel.

Many thanks, BillDL!

peter
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Author Comment

by:Peborgh
ID: 35886705
...And it is open to further modification if necessary...

peter
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Author Closing Comment

by:Peborgh
ID: 35886712
Allelujah!
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Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 35887515
Thank you Peter ;-)  I'm really glad that this was of some help to you.

As far as further modification of the batch file is concerned, there are a couple of things you could do.

Leave out the abbreviated Subject Lines completely from your CSV report by replacing this line:

"%CurrDir%\dbxconv.exe" "-eml $SDATE$~$RNAME_L:100_E:Not Specified$~$RADDR_L:100_E:Not Specified$~$SUBJ_L:36_E:No Subject$.txt" "%DBXfile%"

with this:

"%CurrDir%\dbxconv.exe" "-eml $SDATE$~$RNAME_L:100_E:Not Specified$~$RADDR_L:100_E:Not Specified$" "%DBXfile%"

Each field is enclosed by $ symbols, and the "E:Not Specified" part in the %RNAME% (Recipient Name) and $RADDR% (Recipient Address) is there to insert the text "Not Specified" into that field if no data is found.  The actual text can be changed to whatever you liked.

The "L:100" parts are there in each %DataField$ to limit the length of the text in those data fields to 100 characters.

If you had a feeling that you there may have been a lot more recipient names and addresses in the "To:" field of a number of messages and that the script did not capture them due to the limitation to 100 characters, then you could remove the Subject Line part and MAYBE increase the "L:" value a little (*** but see below ***).

There isn't really any other modification that can be done to the command issued to DBXCONV.EXE.  It is primarily intended for converting OE v5/6 DBX files to OE v4 MBX and, by a stroke of luck, DBX to separate EML files.  The extraction of EML files only includes the parameters for how to form the output names of the EML files.
$SDATE$~$RNAME_L:100_E:Not Specified$~$RADDR_L:100_E:Not Specified$

I only used those file names and the (deliberately) included ~ separator in them so that I could split the file names into chunks and use those chunks to insert into the report as fields.

For example, had you been able to see the names of the EML files (actually I just had them created as TXT files instead) that were temporarily generated and then deleted by the batch file after use, you would have seen names like this:

2009-03-15~Rob Bazonka; John Bazonka; Bob Bazonka~ rbazonka@hotmail.com ; jbazonka@hotmail.com ; bbazonka@hotmail.com~Dog Warning! Gruesome.txt

That's 142 characters long if I counted correctly.

Bear in mind that increasing the allowable length of the data fields that are separated by the ~ symbol from 100 (Recipient Name and Recipient Email Address respectively), and from 36 (Subject Line), will increase the length of the FILE NAME if, for example, there are a lot of names and email addresses in the "To:" field.

In general the maximum number of characters that a file name can have is 255, so I deliberately limited the data fields or else you MAY have ended up failures to extract some of the emails, inaccessible files, or worse still undeletable ones.

Seeing as you are looking specifically to compare recipients with your address book, then it is probable that the vast majority will be stored in your address book with a name rather than just the email address.  One thing I COULD do if you needed is to modify the batch file so that it does not include the Subject Lines and ONLY creates file names containing the DATE and the recipients' NAMES - NOT any of the email addresses, and increase the allowable field length to store more than 100 characters of names.

That's just about all the modification that my "workaround" method using DBCONV.EXE will really allow.  If there are any particular deficiencies with some of the messages, then I can try and address them using some other method.

Thanks again
Bill
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