Problem: Opening a vCard Crashes Outlook

Last reviewed on September 12, 2011   —  No comments yet

Those handy little vCard files that make it easy to send phone and address information to all your friends and associates can also deliver an unpleasant payload. Outlook does not abide by the Internet RFC (Request for Comment) that defines the vCard format. If you open a vCard that contains too much information in one of several fields, Outlook will crash. Fortunately, the problem does not harm your data. File this one under minor, if potentially very annoying bugs.

According to the Dr. Watson log, the program that has the problem is actually Msimn.exe, the executable for Outlook Express, which shares many components with Outlook 98 and 2000, particularly for Internet-related functions. The problem definitely affects Outlook 2000, but might affect earlier versions as well.

A vCard file is just a text file with a specific layout of fields, delimiters and data, saved with a .vcf file extension. If you want to avoid the problem completely, you can change the default file type association for vCard .vcf files so that they open in Notepad instead of Outlook. (If this sounds familiar, it’s because many people changed the file type association for .vbs VBScript files to Notepad after the VBS//Loveletter virus scare.) After you open the vCard in Notepad, you can copy and paste the information into an Outlook contact, field by field.

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.

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