Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Sometimes, programs are running in the background and we don't know it. I explore how to find what's running and ways to keep those programs from starting up in the first place.

Hi, Leo! My question is: when I click Shut Down on my computer, it states, "Waiting for Microsoft Outlook to close." Why is this when Outlook isn't running at all. I didn't open it.

In this excerpt from Answercast #9, I take a look to see if Outlook might be running if you haven't started it or if it is set as your default program and sneaking in when you don't know it.

Not running Outlook for email

If you are absolutely certain that you're not running Outlook, I would check your auto start programs for two things:

  • I would check to see if Microsoft Outlook is in fact starting up anyway when you run your machine for some reason.
  • I would also check to see if something called the Microsoft Office Quickstart Toolbar is running or is being loaded automatically.

Some versions of Office are configured to run every time you login. As a result, it can load up a number of Microsoft Office programs that you aren't expecting.

Check your default programs

Another thing that can cause Outlook to run when you don't expect is if you click on links on web pages that attempt to send mail.

This will fire up your current email program (whatever Windows thinks is your current email program) and give you the form that you fill in to send a piece of email.

The problem is that Outlook, if you run it even once, seems to set itself as the default program for sending email. So, if for whatever reason Outlook gets run, from there on (unless you take additional actions), Outlook will be the program that gets run when you click on a link in a web page that is attempting to send email.

So, by and large, Outlook shouldn't run if you're not it telling it to run, but it does have a history of kind-of sneaking in in some other interesting ways.

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Article C5209 - April 14, 2012 « »

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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