2013-outlookOutlook (2007 to current) has started to give me security warnings about an application that wanted to access my email and contacts (it’s called programmatic access). The message reads:

A program is trying to access e-mail address information stored in Outlook. If this is unexpected, click deny and verify your antivirus software is up-to-date. For more information about email safety and about how you might be able to avoid getting this warning, click Help.

The first thing I did was to deny it, but the dialog would come back right away and basically blocked me from using Outlook and it is pretty alienating.

Outlook did not provide any clue whatsoever as for which app or plugin was responsible for this, so that was a bit infuriating. My research showed that it also happens routinely with other version of Outlook as well, so here’s are a few ways of getting rid of that irritating message, without compromising security.

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Prerequisite

We are going to tweak some settings, so it may be better to run Outlook as an administrator. Here’s how to do it: right-click on the Outlook Icon and choose “run as administrator”. That’s it.

First, you can actually “deny” the alert for 10mn. It’s not very intuitive, but you need to pick “accept access for 10mn” and click Deny. The Microsoft help page on this topic is vaguely helpful.

Here are a couple of ways to prevent this from happening, without compromising your security by totally disabling the alert, which is an equivalent of “ignore the pain”…

My configuration

  • Outlook 2010 (also tested with Outlook 2013 on my laptop)
  • .NET programmability support NOT installed
  • Digital Certificate for VBA installed: this is supposed to suppress warning for known “good” add-ins.
  • Visual Basic for Applications installed (removing it may help further)

Method 1: update your anti-virus

windows-8-defenderIf you read the options carefully, you may realize that Outlook will emit more warnings like this if your antivirus is not up-to-date or disabled. When there’s an active antivirus, Outlook probably considers that security is tight enough to let programmatic access happen.

The simplest way to do this is to activate or update Windows Defender, the built-in antivirus from Microsoft. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start > Search box > type Control Panel > open the control panel
  • Control Panel Search box > type Windows Defender > open Windows Defender
  • You will see if Windows Defender is ON and up-to-date
  • Update it if necessary
  • To enable it, to go Windows Defender > Settings Tab > Check “turn on real-time protection”

Windows can detect a number of third party anti-viruses as well, so if you are using a well-known 3rd party app, it should fulfill the same role as far as Outlook is concerned. Outlook should explicitly say if it detects such a software, or not. With an anti-virus active, it will be less likely to freak out and output warnings.

Method 2: disable/remove add-ins that you don’t need

outlook-2010-addinsIf activating the anti-virus was not sufficient, it means that one of the add-ins makes Outlook upset, but without any information as to which, you will need to poke around to see what is causing the warning.

Depending on your installation, you may have a number of them. For example, apps like Evernote will install an outlook add-in to facilitate sending clips.

To disable add-ins, in Outlook, do this:

  • File > Options > Add-ins > Manage: COM Add-ins > Go
  • Uncheck all the Add-ins that you don’t need
  • Press OK

Restart outlook in default mode (not administrator), and see if the warning message re-appears. You can then re-add the add-ins you need one by one.

When in doubt, and if you don’t need it, you can also completely remove the “Visual Basic for Applications” component by going back to Control Panel > Programs > Outlook > Change

outlook-2010-programs-and-features

By doing this, I have successfully removed this very annoying message from my Outlook and was on my way back to productivity. If this doesn’t work for you, drop a comment, and explain to us exactly what your configuration is, and what message you are seeing. Maybe myself or someone else can pitch in to help.

Good luck!

If someone from #Microsoft reads this: please give users the information about what App/Add-in/DLL/anything tries to access so that we can accept or deny with a clue. Secondly, we need to have something like “deny forever” so that we don’t need to do this every 10mn.

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