Last reviewed on March 17, 2014   —  22 Comments

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.


  1. roam92 says

    THANK YOU for this helpful article! I was going crazy with how this broke when my computer was upgraded to Windows 8.1.

    Windows 8.1 unfortunately brought Internet Explorer 11, and it is not possible to get rid of entirely and install an earlier version of IE in Win 8.1

    In other words, even after "turning off" IE11 from Windows' Programs uninstall panel, the bug persists.

    So what seems to have fixed the problem with sending emails incomplete or unfinished in Outlook 2003 was: turning off the message autosave entirely...

    I don't really want to have autosave turned off, but setting MS Word as editor brought other problems.

    As you noted, the issue seems to have something to do with breaking the management of successive email drafts.

    Microsoft really has to fix this -- IE11 should not hurt other programs!

    But thank you again for helping find at least a temporary workaround.

  2. Net Max says

    Removing IE11 did not help me, but formating in RICH text seemed to work. Easy test is to send yourself a message (single line full of spelling mistakes). If your sent box shows the pre-spell checked/corrected version, it's still broken. I'm Outlook 2003/Win 7 Pro

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I don't recommend using Rich text - anyone outside of your exchange server may receive plain text messages and a winmail.dat attachment. This usually isn't a problem (although it confuses people who aren't familiar with a winmail.dat attachment) unless you send an attachment, then its also hidden in the winmail.dat. It's generally better to use plain text or switch to the Word editor.

  3. brucefuimus says

    Unfortunately, I'm using Outlook 2003 but Word 2010 - the options to use Word are greyed out. I've got Outlook set to compose in plain text but of course replying to mails sent to me in HTML format is a pain. I either forget to convert back to plain text or lose useful formatting.

    Any idea if MS intend to fix this idiocy?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Because Office 2003 is out of support, I'm not expecting a fix, but they could surprise us. Do you have just Outlook installed or the full office 2003 suite? If just outlook, I don't know if copying winword.exe to the folder where outlook.exe is will help this.

    • brucefuimus says

      I only have Outlook installed - I let Office 2010 remove Word, Excel, etc. 2003. Outlook wasn't replaced because I'd not bought the Pro version of Office (or whatever it was called).

      To my surprise, copying winword.exe into outlook.exe's folder, did restore the option to use Word as the editor - however, as soon as it started up, it said words to the effect of "MS Word is not the right version".

      If MS are saying they're not going to fix this because Outlook 2003 is out-of-support, then that's absurd. The fault is with IE or its components. What else have they fouled up with what seem like HTML blunders? Grrr!

      I might try to remember to save before sending and if that fails, to remove IE11.

      Thanks for demonstrating I wasn't going mad thinking I'd typed stuff that I hadn't!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      you copied word 2010 over? Get word 2003 off the code and see if that kids up the message. if you can't find it, i should have a copy here i can get tomorrow.

  4. brucefuimus says

    I've got the Office 2003 CD - guess I need to check how to run Word 2003 and 2010 on the same machine. Thanks for the ideas.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I'd try copying the winword.exe file from Office 2003 to the outlook 2003 folder and see if it works first - otherwise, install word 2003 then repair 2010 install, as you want to install the software in order of release, older to newer.

  5. brucefuimus says

    Right now, to try what I think is the quickest thing for me, I've uninstalled IE11, re-updated to IE10, and asked for the IE11 update to be ignored. Now to keep an eye on MS Outlook. Thanks

  6. J says

    Use Rich Text is fine and the best workaround, just make sure that under "Internet Format..." > "Outlook Rich Text options" is set to "Convert to HTML format" and the messages will be converted to HTML without suffering the save draft bug.

  7. Paul says

    Thanks, Diane! Are there any statements by Microsoft, by now? For example a KB article that describes the symptoms, the root cause and possible workarounds?

    Has anyone opened a support ticket with Microsoft, yet?
    Any fix in the product(s) in sight?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Nothing from Microsoft about it. Because Outlook 2003 is out of support I'm not expecting anything from the Office side and any fix from the windows/IE side would probably be by accident. But I will ask.

      I don't think they will open support cases for Outlook 2003 unless you have a support contract that covers older software.

  8. Karen Thomas says

    I just discovered this was happening on my "reply" emails. The only way I could be sure the correct message was sent was to copy the final version and paste to original email as my reply, and delete the first version. It's a pain, but at least you know you are sending what you want to send.

  9. Brandon Bates says

    Problem permanent work around without loosing IE11 or using Word or Plain Text editing:

    In outlook go to Tools>Macro>Visual Basic Editor

    Open ThisOutlookSession under Project1

    Paste this code (which saves a draft just before sending it):

    Private Sub Application_ItemSend(ByVal Item As Object, Cancel As Boolean)
    On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

    With Item 'Item is your e-mail
    End With
    Exit Sub
    MsgBox "Error sending!"
    End Sub

    After pasting, click the save icon and close the visual basic window. Problem should be solved. You will be presented with an "Enable Macros" dialog when opening outlook in the future, just enable and go on (probably a way around this but I didn't bother)

  10. luciana says

    Hi, when I receive a task the message come cutting in half, I cant read. And I have to ask the person who sent me to sent me buy email, and I create one by myself. This happen only to me. What can I do?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      This only happens with task requests? What type of email account do you use? (POP, Exchange, IMAP,

    • luciana says

      outlook 2010, 2013 same problem, works fine on OWA, but when I go to outlook client the task comes cutoff at the left of the page.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You don't need to give up Outlook 2003, you only need to use word as the email editor. If you are using mixed versions of Office and Outlook (and can't use Word as the editor), you would need to use plain text format.

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