Outlook Prompts for Login Credentials for SharePoint

SharePoint can be a bit of pain to deal with, especially when you integrate it with other applications.  On occasion, I’ve run into an issue where you will receive a prompt for credentials every time that Outlook is opened.  Even checking the box to remember the password, this annoying box will continue to pop up.  Modifying the stored credentials in Windows does not fix the problem.  Sure, you could either enter your credentials and hit OK or hit cancel, but I’m not a fan of leaving issues unresolved.

I’ve seen many posts and comments in a myriad of forums that recommend following the instructions detailed in http://support.microsoft.com/kb/943280/en-gb.  For some people it has worked; for others, it has not.  While I’m quite comfortable messing with the registry, I’d prefer a less invasive solution.  What I found works better is to add the SharePoint site to your list of intranets inside of Internet Explorer.  To do so:

  1. Close Outlook
  2. Open IE
  3. Click on Tools | Internet Options
  4. In the Security tab, select Local intranet in the zone box
  5. Click Sites
  6. Click the Advanced button
  7. Add the site to the list (e.g., sharepoint.domain.com)
  8. Close/OK out of all windows to accept the changes (obviously don’t hit cancel or X)
  9. Open Outlook

Voila.

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Excel: Open file, blank window – Change Resolution

A user will occasionally call up saying that an Excel file won’t open.  In this particular instance (through some interrogating), what happens is that the user opens the file, Excel opens, but it looks like the file itself did not open; the background of Excel is visible, along with the ribbon, but you don’t see any cell at all.  You can close Excel and re-open as much as you want, but you’ll get the same results.

What you need to do is change the resolution and the window will appear within Excel, but the window is not maximized.  Once the resolution is changed, maximize the window within Excel and you can change the resolution back.

My theory on this is that someone else was working on the file with the window inside Excel not maximized, and they have a different resolution.  When the person with said issue opens the file, the window is in “Restored” mode, but off the screen.  Changing the resolution (for some reason) seems to move the window to a visible portion of the Excel instance.

This was a problem that was extremely bothersome and really hard to research.  How I found the solution was because one user had a terribly low resolution that was bugging the crap out of me, so I minimized Excel, changed the resolution, and then switched back to Excel.  Low and behold, there was the file’s contents.

Details:

  • Windows 7 (so far, I’ve only seen this on 32-bit)
  • Excel 2007 (I don’t ever recall this with 2003 or 2002/XP)

Microsoft Outlook – Operation Failed

And we have, yet again, another generalized error message from a program, of which the message says very little and explains even less.

This unfortunate error message only seems to pop up once in a blue moon; I literally only hear about someone getting it maybe twice a year.  What happens is that a user constructs an email and attempts to send it.  Upon hitting send, the dialogue box pops up with “Operation Failed” displayed.  You can close and save the email, but you’ll receive the same error every time you try to send the email.  There is only one resolution to this: construct a brand new email message.  This is the only solution; anything else I’ve tried fails miserably.

Typically, the user is not happy about this, because he/she thinks that they are going to lose all their work.  If the user copies and pastes the body contents of the original (faulty) into the new message, whatever is causing the problem does not get copied over.

Unfortunately, I have never found a reason why this happens.  Because the solution is quick and easy, I personally stopped caring and just fix it for users.

Microsoft Word: This document cannot be registered

I received a call from a user who says she had received this error that’s troubling her.  I open up the file and after it opens, the following message is displayed:

This document cannot be registered. It will not be possible to create links from this document to other documents.

I figure that maybe it’s something with the file, but multiple files in the folder are displaying the same error. A quick Google search will direct you to the following knowledge base article: KB176444.  Now this article seems to claim that Office is somehow broken with a corrupt registry entry, but that would mean that all documents being opened in Word would be showing the same message, which is not the case.  Additional searches show pretty much the same thing, or even to ensure that services like DCOM are started, which just doesn’t make any sense here.

I then took to looking at the file server’s open files and sessions, but that led nowhere.  Some of the files in question were open, others were not.  At this point, I ruled out the server as the problem.  However, it was happening on both her computer and mine, so it wasn’t machine- or user-specific.

Further investigation showed that there were some files within the folder which could open, so it wasn’t a permissions issue or corrupt folder.  Moving files wouldn’t work.  Trying to copy the files wouldn’t work.  The files definitely had content, so the files themselves weren’t corrupt either.  In an attempt to rename a file, that’s when I remembered an issue from the last file server migration I performed.

The problem here is really with the UNC path, which in this case has exceeded 256 characters (spaces are characters: ASCII 32).  The UNC path is the entire name of the file and its folders if you were to specifically address the file.  A good example is C:\Users\Mike\Documents\filename 1.docx.  This UNC path is 39 characters.  Once a UNC path exceeds 256 characters, pretty much any operation on this document will fail.  The easiest way to quickly resolve this problem is to rename an excessively long filename or folder to something very short.  The long-term solution is to change your naming convention of filenames or folders.

This 256-character limitation is by design and will affect 32-bit and 64-bit installations, so there really isn’t any way around it.  While it may appear to be helpful to you to be very specific with folders or filenames, it can really hurt you in the long-run.

“There are seldom good technical solutions to behavioral problems.”