Outlook 2003 messages are cut off

Last reviewed on March 17, 2014

Internet ExplorerFollowing recent Windows updates, Outlook 2003 users are complaining that replies are cut off, chopped, or truncated, with only the draft version being sent. Some users say only the initial draft copy is saved, not additional drafts after editing a message for a long period of time.

Every so often, not all the time (which is what has me baffled), an email will be composed and sent by the user, however, all but the first couple of lines are cropped off. In some cases, the email is just sent with the first line. This problem is random, and does not affect all emails.

Outlook is sending the message from the draft folder and it's often not the final copy. Messages that are composed and sent quickly will be complete, messages the user takes longer to write may be incomplete. Replies to plain text messages aren't affected, but replies to HTML messages might be cut off, if the user sent it before the draft was created.

An additional symptom: Spell check doesn't work as expected. When spell check on send is enabled, spell check is invoked when you click Send but the corrections are not applied to the message, the ORIGINAL message (with spelling errors) is sent out.

This affects all email account types. It's the email editor choice or email format, not the mail server, that is important.

While I can reproduce this problem when I use the Outlook Editor, I'm unable to reproduce this problem when Word is set as the Editor. If using Word as the email editor is not an option (try it - it's not that bad :)), you can use Plain Text message format. Either of these changes are made in the Tools, Options, Mail Format dialog box. You don't need to use Word as the editor AND plain text, one or the other is enough to fix the problem.

Change Outlook Options to use Word as the editor or plain text

If you want to use the Outlook Editor and HTML (or RTF) message format, press Ctrl+S or the Save button to re-save the draft before sending the message to update the draft copy and the complete message is usually sent. If you edit the toolbar so the Save button is to the left of Send, it will be easier to remember to Save then Send.

Warning: some users reported only the first draft is ever sent. After installing all available updates, I'm seeing the same behavior with some (but not all) messages on my test machine.

You can also change the default time before autosave kicks in. The default is 3 minutes. If you complete most messages quickly increasing the time will help, or you can lower it to 1 minute, especially if you tend to pause before sending a message. Make this change in Tools, Options, Email Options, Advanced Email Options. Warning: The same issue that affects the use of Save applies here: if only the first autosave is used, you'll need to set the autosave time higher.

If none of workarounds above are acceptable, you can uninstall Internet Explorer 11 to eliminate the problem. You'll need to configure Windows so that IE11 does not get reinstalled, otherwise, the problem will return with the next Windows Update.

To uninstall Internet Explorer 11

  1. Open Control panel, Programs and Features.
  2. Click on View Installed Updates.
  3. Sort by name then find and select Microsoft Internet Explorer 11.
  4. Click Uninstall at the top of the dialog box.

Uninstall Internet Explorer 11

To prevent IE11 from being reinstalled, you'll need to Hide it the next time Windows Updates offers it. Select it from the list of Updates waiting to be installed, right click and choose Hide update.

Hide IE11 in Windows Update

Administrators can download the IE11 toolkit from Microsoft at Toolkit to Disable Automatic Delivery of Internet Explorer 11 . Run the blocker and restart Windows.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

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