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It’s a fact of life that applications crash, and Microsoft Outlook is no exception. When users call to complain that they can’t get their e-mail, it’s up to you to set things right.

Outlook 2002 introduced the Safe Mode feature. Much like Windows’ Safe Mode, the Outlook 2002 counterpart allows Outlook to boot when it might otherwise fail.

Safe Mode enables Outlook to detect and either repair or bypass the source of the problem, such as a corrupted registry or a misbehaving add-in. When Outlook boots in Safe Mode, it displays a dialog box explaining the problem and asks if you want to continue to load the program in Safe Mode or attempt a normal restart.

If you allow Outlook to start in Safe Mode, go to Help | About Microsoft Outlook, and click Disabled Items. This opens a Disabled Items dialog box that lists the items that Outlook has disabled to start in Safe Mode. You can then attempt to correct the problem–for example, disable or remove an add-in.

You can start Outlook 2002 or any other Office XP application in Safe Mode at any time: Hold down the [Ctrl] key when starting Outlook. The program displays a dialog box that gives you the option of starting in Safe Mode.