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User Experiences

This is a new section about unusual and interesting experiences and their solutions. If you have a story to share, please send to

  1. Mail disappears after a crash. Even the Apple Store Genius cannot find the file. Have the kids deleted the file? Find the solution here.
  2. Entourage and Word start to behave in a very strange way. Screen redraws, spinning beach balls the works and nothing helps. Find the solution here.
  3. EEEK, spell checking not working! Find the solution here.
  4. Printing messages gets the dreaded spinning beach ball on some messages. Nothing is working. Do I start over with a new identity or procrastinate? Find the solution here.
  5. Eureka! I have solved the mystery. Sending Mail with Attachments Fails. Read the full story here.
  6. Entourage Deleted mail folders are recovered using OE. Read all about it here.
  7. "Please verify the Product Key you entered is correct." User is unable to install using a legitimate product key. Read his account here.
  8. Share Calendar with another Entourage users over an exchange server. here
  9. Freezing in Entourage whenever new mail was being received. See how one user tracked down the solution to his problem. Here
  10. Notifications window disappears after import Now Up to Date contacts. here

1) Mail disappears after a crash. Even the Apple Store Genius cannot find the file. Have the kids deleted the file?

Even though my brother-in-law took the computer to the Apple Store Genius and they couldn't find the Entourage database finally, I was able to locate it last night.

I was prepared to re-import the four-month-old Outlook Express database from their old iMac just so they had their old address book and old emails. But while I was in the middle of the file transfer, something my sister said made me do a final search for the Database file, this time including invisible files.

Right there, at the root level of the hard drive, in a hidden folder called "lost+found" was the complete Main Identity folder.

I'm still curious about how the files ended up in there. Was it OS X or Entourage? Why put a recovered file in an invisible folder? That seems to defeat the purpose.

I'm just glad to have found it and my sister (and her customers) are ecstatic. And I'm left thanking St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost objects and people.---Domenico Bettinelli

Note: Due to a bug in 10.4 (still not fixed in Leopard) the Finder cannot find invisible files.

It is better to activate the finder, then under the 'go' menu, select 'go to folder'. In that dialog, enter "/lost+found" (without the quotes).

If there is a lost+found folder it will open, if not, you will get a 'folder not found' error.

Tip: Download EasyFind (freeware) to find invisible files (Spotlight won't find invisible system files). Turn on the "Invisible Files & Folders" option when you search for an item named "lost+found".

Further Explanation by Entourage Talk users Joshua and Lars:

The 'lost+found' directory is created by fsck if it finds orphaned files during the boot process, or by the user running Disk Utility. For a comprehensive list of hidden files and directories in OS X, see:


Advice to all: NEVER power down before you shut down (sleep is NOT enough). If it happens (e.g., because of a power outage), look for files in the invisible folder "lost+found".

2) Entourage and Word start to behave in a very strange way. Screen redraws, spinning beach balls the works and nothing helps.

About three weeks ago Entourage and Word started to behave in a very strange way.

* When closing a mail the screen will not properly redraw leaving the scroll bar of this mail in the middle of the Main Mail Window.

* When switching from Word to Entourage the spin ball will spin - sometimes for about a minute sometimes forever.

*Once the ball spins I can switch to other applications but not to Word or Entourage.

*Word takes forever to open a document or when switching between two documents.

I did a rebuild of the Entourage database, fixed all permissions, reset the PRAM,...I am simply puzzled!

Solution: Since I removed pdf maker from the Word start-up items, it works just fine again.

3) EEEK, spell checking not working!

I had an interesting occurrence with Entourage X recently. For some reason, the interactive spell checking stopped working (the red squiggly lines under misspelled words...I absolutely rely on those things!), and in fact even the tools>spelling... function stopped working, simply saying "spell check complete" even through there were numerous misspelled words.

I searched all over and found nothing, so called Microsoft with one of my 2 free incidents. The guy had me do a bunch of stuff, none of which worked. Finally he said I'd have to create a new identity and re-import all my mail and settings...what a pain!

So I did that, with the help of Entourage Export-import scripts. Went up and changed my preferences to what I wanted. Went to compose a message and EEEK, spell checking was not working!

I knew it had been working prior to my messing with the preferences, so I backtracked. It turns out the display font I had chosen, Courier CE was the culprit....actually any of the CE fonts (Monaco CE, Geneva CE, Helvetica CE, Courier CE) caused the same problem.

I changed the fixed-width font to ANYTHING else (in my case Courier New), and the spell checking works like a charm.

I hope this saves someone else the time it took to rebuild and recreate their email identity.

Rich Hammons

Another Spelling fix

I have a user on Entourage 2004/OS X 10.3.4 for whom the spelling preferences won't stick - all the check boxes can be checked, OK is clicked and then you go back in the Preferences window and they're all unchecked again. Same story if the application is quit before reopening the Preferences.

I've tried dumping the Entourage Preferences file in ~/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/ as that's the file that is updated on my own Mac when I change spelling preferences, but no joy.

Solution: Turns out the Proofing Tools folder was missing - presumed to have been left out during the installation.

4. Printing messages gets the dreaded spinning beach ball.

For months I've had a problem trying to print an email. I would get the dreaded spinning beach ball. This seemed random. Some emails would print others wouldn't. Moving the email to another machine would cure the problem, *but not always*.

The advice? Database corruption. Pile everything into a new Identity and start again. Some of this looked straight forward and other parts (accounts and rules) there seemed no automation for, which was a pain in the bum. So I chose my usual approach... and did nothing.

But it wasn't just laziness. The part I didn't understand was how database corruption on one machine would randomly assert itself on other machines. This didn't seem logical, so I started looking out for other factors and by chance fell on the solution. Looking at an email one day, I saw that it was addressed to half the world yet only included one line of text; my mouse finger quickly reached for the 'Truncate long recipients list' button. Result on attempting to print? The dreaded beach ball. So I force-quit, reloaded Entourage and printed the same email, but this time with the all-important 'truncate' button unchecked. Result; it printed fine.

Over the next week or so I left the 'Truncate' button checked and every time I got the beach ball I went back, unchecked the 'truncate' button and the email printed without a hitch.

So I never replaced everything, or took the time to move everything across. My problem lies with the 'Truncate long recipients list' button, which now remains firmly unchecked.

5) Eureka! I have solved the mystery Sending Mail with Attachments Fails

This thread appeared on the Entourage Newsgroup

Thread modified for clarity

I am unable to send an attachment (including MS documents) when using Entourage X. I get error 5421 "server is busy". Plain e-mail without attachments go OK. I'm using Verizon DSL and they say everything is OK on their end (of course).

I've already set the account information correctly - checked and checked and checked again - in Entourage Account settings. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

"Many people have reported such problems if they have a DSL connection that uses PPPoE - especially when using Airport. I often have this problem and solve it by setting the MTU via the following command in the Terminal:

sudo ifconfig en1 mtu 1364

which value (e.g. 1364) is good is something that can be determined by experiment. (Max is 1500, so start there and decrease it until it works.)"

Thanks so _very much_ for your 9/8/03 e-mail. It put me on the right path to overcoming the problem. Let me share with you some of what I found out along the way.

David, Eureka! I have solved the mystery. The "MTU" hint in my previous post got me to thinking and I wondered what was different now verses pre-DSL. The answer was my Linksys router. I hope you have a router set up on your DSL line. What you have to do is go into the router setup, click on the advanced button and at the bottom of the screen is a setting to enable or disable the MTU. Default seems to be disable. I enabled it and set the number to the max (1492). I then went back to entourage and tried sending my large emails, with attachments, and they all went sailing through! I have no idea what the "MTU" is and if anyone can enlighten me I would be most appreciative. Good luck, David. Hope this helps you. Archie

The "MTU" hint

Here is the definition of MTU: A "maximum transmission unit" (MTU) is the largest size packet or frame, specified in octets (eight-bit bytes), that can be sent in a packet- or frame-based network such as the Internet.

I called verizon.net DSL support to find out what the recommended MTU setting was for my router. The answer is "1492", as you found out empirically. In fact, the rep I spoke with said 1492 is the standard setting for all DSL routers.

I have a NetGear router. I adjusted it's MTU setting to 1492, but nothing changed. I still couldn't send out an e-mail bigger than 3k. (I was starting to get mega-frustrated, as I'm sure you can relate to.) Then, it dawned on me. I've had the NetGear router for about a year. There may be software updates to address OS 10.2.6 needs.

I went to NetGear's website and, sure enough, there were three firmware updates since the version I was running. I updated to the most recent one and voilà - problem solved!

Interestingly, with the firmware I have installed, the opportunity to modify the MTU is gone. Perhaps since a standard has evolved, the user no longer needs to be concerned about the MTU setting. Are you using the latest software/firmware for your Linksys router? If not, updating may do away with the MTU problem altogether.

Take care,


6) Recover Deleted Mail

This was a situation where a client using Entourage 2001 had accidentally grabbed and then moved most of his folders into the Deleted Items folder and then Quit E 2001 with 'Empty Deleted Items Folder on Quit' set up. I knew that the files were still in the Database and a very helpful guy called James Connelly on the Mac Managers list came to our rescue. To save my typing finger a great deal of strain, here is the summary I sent back to the MM list.

I am aware enough of Outlook Express's/Entourage filing system to know that until the compression/optimization process takes place, the 'deleted' items are still in the database.

For example, if I had a 750Mb 'Messages' file, and then deleted 50% and emptied the Deleted Items Folder, the 'Messages' file would STILL be 750Mb UNTIL I held down the option key whilst starting OE/Entourage and compressed the files. In this case I think Microsoft equates compression with deleting the unwanted files.

This is the position I was in with this client. The files were there but I could not get to them. Compressing the files would have lost them for ever.

However, the prize goes to the brilliant James Connolly for his suggestion.

The trick is to plunk the folder structure into Outlook Express's identities folder, open OE with the Shift key down, and do a database rebuild. It will work to a point, then fail to access the files.

Now Entourage should be able to import the info from OE successfully......James

I tried this technique with a couple of changes. I made sure I had a separate copy of the Main Identity folder in the 'Office 2001 Identities' Folder, and then installed OE 5.0.6, opened it to create the 'Identities Folder', and then copied over these files with the Entourage files from the 'Office 2001 Identities' folder.

Then I started OE with the OPTION key held down (I tried the shift key, thinking that James may have had a new revelation for me, but I think it was a small typo on his part). As James predicted, it got 99.9% of the way through the compression before it said it could not use the files. I then opened Entourage, created a new user and imported the semi-converted OE files. It took a long time but ALL the files came back in the correct folders. This was (expletive) amazing !!!

The only problem was that the account information did not seem to work as it kept on telling me it could not recognize the password. The simple way round this was to create a new account and input exactly the same info, which seems to be characteristic of Microsoft applications in general.

Again, many thanks James, and I owe you a pint.

John Blagden

7) "Please verify the Product Key you entered is correct."

I took your advice and phoned MS product support. I first talked to a person in the Philippines who was unable to resolve the problem and passed me along to a next level up support person in Nova Scotia. She worked to resolve my problem for about an hour and a half. Very impressive.

The short version of the solution started with verifying my that my Product Key was correct and in Microsoft's database. It was. She then had me read the part number on the install disk to verify its authenticity. I was then instructed to turn off all extensions and re- try to install. In each case I still got the dreaded popup window saying "Please verify the Product Key you entered is correct."

Then I was asked to change my password and try a "test" password. (In truth I don't remember whether she asked me to turn off the extensions before or after trying the "test" password.) Still got the popup window. Next she asked me to type in a special Microsoft Product Key and the computer accepted that. She had thought that the disk might be corrupt but the Microsoft Product Key eliminated that potential. Then I was instructed to trash the software that had loaded as part of the "test."

Then she had me go back to my own password and re-start the computer. She concluded that my disk Product Key was corrupt. The next, and final step, was for her to provide me with a brand new Product Key and Product ID for my disk. I entered the new Product Key and the software loaded immediately. The "old" Product Key is gone forever and, should I ever need to, will use the new Product Key.

I may have left out a step but that's basically what she had me do. The important learning is that, for reasons she couldn't immediately determine, once in a while the Product Key itself is corrupt or invalid even though it is/was verified as being valid in the Microsoft database by the tech support person. it's apparently rare but not unheard of.

It was a gratifying result to put it mildly. Oh, and yes, she confirmed that the license is for one desktop and one laptop and they are not to be run concurrently.

JE and Dalya, I thank you for your suggestions.


8) Share Calendar with another Entourage user over an exchange server.

I solved my problem regarding sharing Calendars with my assistant in Entourage when connected to an Exchange Server so thought I would pass the solution along in case anyone else runs into this issue.

In Outlook, I could share my Calendar (or Contacts or any other folder) simply by right clicking on the folder, selecting Folder Properties, clicking the Permissions tab, and assigning my assistant the permissions I wanted her to have. My assistant did not have to be a Delegate to access my Calendar.

This also worked when I was in Entourage connected to an Exchange Server and my assistant was in Outlook. However, when I switched my assistant to Entourage and tried the same thing, her Entourage could not find my Mailbox.

The solution I finally figured out was to make my assistant a Delegate and limit her properties to the same as the Permissions assigned to her in each Folder. None of the tutorials or help information stated that both Delegate and Permissions needed to be added; in fact, they are treated as alternative approaches. Nevertheless, in my experience, both Delegate access and Permissions need to be granted by me.

Finally, if there is no connection at first, try clearing the cache in the new folder.

Good luck
-- Tom

10. Notifications window disappears after importing Now-up-to-Date calendar.

The usual methods of finding a window that's off screen did not work. After reverting to a previous database before the import, the Notifications did show up. It seems that it takes a very long time for Notifications to show up when there are large numbers of items to be processed.

The user story in his own words:

...the notification window did not show up before is that I did not wait long enough for 7607 items to be processed...BUT ...that can be a very long time.

I had 3 items in my old backup DB and it took about a minute for the window to show up.. First I heard the sound notification, then a little later the window showed up- but empty, then the notification info filled in.

So it took about a minute for the 3 reminder items to show up as a reminder window.

For 7607 items I think we are talking about 7607/3 minutes= or 42 hours!!!!!!

Maybe my calculation is off a bit--- but waiting 42 hours for a large number of notifications to be processed might make you miss some appointments that happen before the 42 hours is complete.

Anyway-- that is my theory-- I did not wait 42 hours so I can't confirm the theory.