Take control of your Outlook 2013 add-ins

Outlook add-ins provide lots of interesting features that customize Outlook for a particular scenario. Even if you don’t purchase third-party add-ins, you might already be using the add-ins that are installed with Outlook such as the Outlook Social Connector 2013. While we make every attempt to ensure that add-ins integrate seamlessly with Outlook, some add-ins behave in a way that detracts from your Outlook experience.

We’ve listened to customer suggestions and added a new feature in Outlook 2013 to help you manage add-ins that cause performance or crashing problems. When an add-in takes too long to boot, Outlook will disable the add-in automatically*. When this happens, Outlook provides a warning in the notification bar as shown below and you can take appropriate action.

When you see the add-in problem alert, click the View Disabled Add-ins button on the notification bar to display the Disabled Add-ins dialog.

The Disabled Add-ins dialog

The Disabled Add-ins dialog lets you control add-ins that have caused a problem for Outlook. When you display this dialog, you’ll notice that Outlook tells you how much time the add-in required. In the example below, the SaveMessageAsPDF add-in caused Outlook to start slowly and added over 16 seconds to Outlook startup time. If you click the Always enable this add-in button, Outlook will always allow the add-in to run no matter how much time it requires during Outlook startup.

If you change your mind

What happens if you change your mind? Maybe you don’t want to wait 16 seconds while Outlook starts up. Don’t worry, you’re still in control of your add-ins. To display the Disabled Add-ins dialog again, you click File | Manage Add-ins in the Backstage view:

Just click the Disable this add-in button to ensure that the add-in will be disabled and you’ll get 16 seconds back every time you launch Outlook! If you know that you need your special add-in again, you can always go back to this dialog and re-enable the add-in.

We want to protect you from add-ins that slow down your Outlook experience and to ensure that you are always in control of your add-ins. In some cases, you will find it acceptable that an add-in slows down Outlook a bit but you are willing to make a tradeoff for a must-have feature provided by the add-in. On the other hand, you might not want to sacrifice Outlook performance for an add-in that was pre-installed on your computer. You have the final say, and enjoy having greater control of the add-ins that run in Outlook.

–Randy Byrne, Outlook Program Manager

* For those of you nitty-gritty technical types, here’s how the add-in disabling feature works. Outlook monitors the time that an add-in contributes to Outlook startup or shutdown. Outlook also monitors the time that an add-in requires when a folder is switched or an item is opened. When the median time calculated over five instances of a performance measurement exceeds one second, Outlook will disable the add-in automatically.