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.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

22 responses to “Outlook 2003 messages are cut off”

  1. roam92

    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

    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

  3. brucefuimus

    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?

  4. brucefuimus

    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.

  5. brucefuimus

    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

    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

    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?

  8. Karen Thomas

    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

    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
    .Save
    End With
    Exit Sub
    ErrorHandler:
    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

    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?

  11. luciana

    *by.
    I tried on outlook 2010 and outlook2013

  12. Jim

    Interesting way to force people off Outlook 2003: screw up IE11 and blame it on Outlook 2003.

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