Outlook 2003 “Reduced Functionality” mode workaround.

I stopped using Microsoft Office years ago, having switched to LibreOffice instead. LibreOffice does everything I need, and can open all my old Word and Excel documents, so I haven’t really missed Microsoft Office. However, I still have Outlook 2003 installed in order to read archived emails residing in a PST file.

Recently I completely rebuilt my PC, with a new motherboard and CPU, and the change was enough that Outlook 2003 decided that it needed to be activated again. Unfortunately it is now no longer possible to activate Outlook 2003 (or, indeed, any of Office 2003) as Microsoft have discontinued support, and turned off the activation servers. It is no longer even possible to enter a manual activation key either.

If you click “Cancel” on the activation dialog, then Outlook 2003 runs in a read-only mode called “Reduced Functionality” mode. That’s fine, as I only want to be able to refer back to old emails.

However, the reduced functionality is really reduced. You cannot print an email, or save, or even copy & paste the text in many cases. That’s pretty harsh.

There are workarounds, though.


Attachments cannot be saved, but they can still be opened, and then the application that opens the attachment can be used to do a “save as”. So although it is an annoyance to have to actually open an attachment in order to save it, rather than just selecting “save attachment”, it’s merely an inconvenience.

Message body

Plain text emails
If the message is a plain text email then the text in the message body can be selected and copied (although “save as” is still greyed out). It is also possible to print the message.

HTML emails
For HTML emails, you cannot select any of the message text and copy it, which is a major annoyance. Neither can you print the message. However, if you right-click on the message, one option that is not greyed out on the right-click menu is “View Source”. Selecting this opens the HTML source of the message in your default text editor (i.e. Notepad, unless you have changed it).
From there you can choose “save as”, remembering to change the extension of the filename from “.txt” to “.html”.
You can then double click on that saved file from Window Explorer to open the file in your favourite web browser, and the message will then be available to view, print, and to copy & paste.


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About DataHamster

The Data Hamster stores facts and information in its capacious cheek pouches and regurgitates them from time to time.

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