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May 4, 1998

Readers report bugs, share work-arounds on Internet Explorer and Outlook 98

My series of three columns beginning March 30 revealed problems and fixes for the Web cache in Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0 and 4.0. (See "Two utilities help improve Explorer's use of data cache," March 30.) Since that time, readers have contributed lots of new information, which I'll share with you today.

Reader Brad Freeman reports that he had to redo several Web pages to work around a different Explorer bug. When visitors tried to jump to named anchors on his state agency's Web site, the browser ignored the request when the page with the anchor wasn't in Explorer's cache.

Combined with Explorer's habit of randomly deleting pages from its cache, this would cause Explorer to sometimes refuse to jump even to an anchor on a page currently being viewed.

In an unrelated problem, Mike Whitenton of Sub Systems had to deal with customers whose copy of Explorer 4.0 crashed whenever the customers clicked a form on their Web site containing a single-line drop-down list. The click was occurring just before the form completely filled up with several dozen entries generated by a database. Whitenton solved the problem by enclosing the list in a table. Presto! The list is not displayed until the drop-down form is fully loaded -- end of problem. To request sample HTML code for the fix, send e-mail to with the subject "Please send code."

Steve Alpert writes that if you tell Explorer your home page is an HTML file on your own Windows NT machine (and only NT), you can't save the size and position of the Explorer window. Yep, that's irritating.

I noted a different NT problem in my April 13 column. (See "The official word from Microsoft: We will fix Explorer soon.") Reader Michael Markus had recommended changing Explorer 4.0's cache file location from C:\WinNT\Profiles\User\Temporary Internet Files to C:\WinNT\Temporary Internet Files, which is Explorer 3.0's default. This prevents tens of megabytes of cache files from swapping from drive to drive when NT users "roam."

I pointed out that you need to delete the unwanted files and folders and restart NT. But David States emphasizes that you must remove the files from every machine users roamed to. If you don't, the data flood pours right back in, and it continues to move with you whenever you log in afterward.

In addition to the cache bug I wrote about in March and April, Randy Piplica has been dealing with a bloated History bug. Clearing your History and Temporary Internet Files using Explorer's View, Internet Options menu item doesn't reduce the index files for these caches to 8KB (Explorer 3.0) or 16KB (Explorer 4.0). Instead, these indexes grow larger and larger, slowing down Explorer significantly, especially when opening pages that contain frames or Java.

Piplica recommends Wizard Systems' TweakIE, a $5 program you download from TweakIE clears these files for you and also fixes other bugs. For example, moving the Temporary Internet Files folder from your C: drive to regain space can actually cause Explorer to maintain two identical caches. TweakIE enables you to pick any location. I haven't tested it, so I'm interested in hearing about your results with this.

Finally, David Pincus relates a way to improve Netscape Navigator's cache. He used Version 3.04 and reduced his Disk Cache to zero and increased his Memory Cache to more than 1MB. Going back to a previously viewed page became much faster, presumably because RAM is faster than disk space. Sounds reasonable to me.

Outlook loses feature

In other Internet-related news, reader Anil Dash of Winformation was the first to report to me that Microsoft's new Outlook 98 e-mail client has actually lost a major feature supported by Outlook 97.

This is the Import/Export feature that maps fields from data sources like personal information managers into the fields Outlook uses. The feature worked in Outlook 97 and even in Betas 1 and 2 of Outlook 98, then disappeared.

Microsoft explains that the conversion feature, licensed from DataViz, is no longer available, but Microsoft is working with DataViz on a fix. In the meantime, you can use a cumbersome manual mapping work-around that is described at

Brian Livingston is the co-author of several best-selling Windows books, including the most recent Windows 95 Secrets (IDG Books). Send comments to Unfortunately, he cannot answer individual questions.

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