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If your desktop email program has saved or remembered your email password for you, there are tools available that will recover and display it for you.

If you've forgotten your email password, perhaps because you let your email program - Outlook Express, in this example - remember your password for you, there are totally legitimate tools that will display what your email program has remembered for you. That's both convenient ... and scary.

In this video from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll walk through the fate of Outlook Express and point you at the tool that can be used to display what it's remembered for you.

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Transcript

'I know you're not a fan of Outlook Express'.

Well, I wouldn't say that; Outlook Express got a lot of people on to email. It has some serious problems and it's not being supported anymore, so I'm certainly not a fan of continuing to use Outlook Express. But Outlook Express is one of those programs that I think made a significant dent on the internet.

'Is there a way of recovering a forgotten password? I am using Yahoo.com and Windows 7. It will not let me reload Outlook Express. The message I get is that the software is no longer supported.'

That is correct; Outlook Express is not available in Windows 7. 'Where is Windows Mail or Outlook Express in Windows 7?' So this is the article that discusses the fundamental problem that you are seeing.

Outlook Express has been removed from both Windows Vista and Windows 7. In Windows Vista, there was an email program called Windows Mail that was made available instead. In Windows 7, there is no email program made available. The assumption is that you'll either bring your own or you'll download the Windows Live Mail which is the 'new' replacement for Outlook Express.

Outlook Express itself will not run in Windows 7; the only approach close to getting it to even close to run in Windows 7 is to run a virtual machine to run Windows XP within Windows 7 or to get XP mode. If you have Windows 7 Pro or better, you can download something called 'XP mode' which is nothing more than a pre-configured virtual machine that allows you to run Windows XP inside of a window in Windows 7. There's an article about that too if you actually want to consider going down that route.

Recovering your password - so recovering a forgotten password - I wouldn't relate that to Outlook Express. If you are using Yahoo.com for your email services, it's Yahoo.com where you want to go to get your forgotten password. Typically, if you try to go to login to your webmail and follow the 'I forgot my password' links and/or instructions that follow, that's the way to get the password back.

The password - if you've still got your Outlook Express machine running, your Windows XP machine that used to run...if you've got your Windows XP machine around that used to run Outlook Express and it's still available, it is possible (let's see if I can remember the URL for this) nirsoft.net has some really interesting tools and it is possible to...right, they have something called MailPassView; this recovers the passwords of a bunch of different email programs including, it appears, Outlook Express.

So what you would do on the machine that is currently running Outlook Express, you should be able to run MailPassView and it will probably display the password for you.

So two things here: one, nirsoft is totally legit; I've used lots of tools from them before. Make sure you are getting them from nirsoft.net and not some other kind of shady download site. Let me make sure this actually goes to a legitimate page - there's the description, there's the system requirements, where's the download link? So there it is down at the bottom and those are both coming form nirsoft.net itself. Make sure you're getting it from that location. As I said, they are totally legitimate. They actually have lots of nifty tools for password recovery and such.

I've got a couple of articles that talk about how you can recover passwords if you've forgotten them but had Windows Internet Explorer remember them for you tools, here can usually pick that up as well. So, lesson one, nirsoft is legit; these tools are legit and safe.

Lesson two is, oh my gosh, anybody who can walk up to your computer and can grab a tool like this and see your password! And you saw on this list that it was a lot more than just Outlook Express; it was Outlook, and I didn't notice if Thunderbird was on the list, but it wouldn't surprise me.

This is a case where I want to reinforce to everybody who is not currently having a problem who understands and they remember their password and are not trying to recover it that's something I've said for a long time: if it's not physically secure, it's not secure. If somebody can walk up to your computer, they can have this utility on a thumb drive and stick it in, run it, and find out your password. It's actually worse than that when it comes to physical security, but I'll leave that as a word of warning; call it frightening enough for the moment.

A lot of people don't realize just how easy some of these kinds of recoveries are. So, that is one way to potentially get your Outlook Express password back. Otherwise, I'm sorry, your Yahoo! password back from having Outlook's remembered password to be recovered for you. The other approach is to go to Yahoo.com and use the 'I forgot my password' approach.

Let's see, Mark reminds me that the nirsoft utilities are great, but you might get a warning from your anti-virus program. That happens from time-to-time, but like I said, as long as you're certain that you're getting it from, directly from nirsoft.net. Then, you can be assured that what you're getting is not a virus; it is a tool that can be used legitimately to do some interesting things on your system. There are a lot of nifty tools here.

Article C5071 - February 8, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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