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Can two Windows XP accounts share a Mail account?

My husband & I share the same computer. I haven't been able to set up Outlook Express so he can access mail when he is logged on. He has to log on as "me" to read mail messages. We have just one email address at present. Should he not be able to access the inbox from the Microsoft Internet Explorer tool bar when he is logged on?

The short answer is yes we can make that work. But it's not really how Windows XP or Outlook for that matter expect things to behave.

Windows XP is truly a multi-user operating system. That means that each user who can log in has a completely separate collection of settings. They have a different desktop, different shortcuts, different menus, a different "My Documents" folder, and for most applications, a completely separate set of settings.

Outlook Express is definitely one of those applications. Each user under Windows XP has their own set of settings in Outlook Express. Log in to Windows XP as yourself and you'll see your settings. Log in to Windows XP as your husband and you'll see a completely different set.

And therein lies the seeds of our solution.

Step one is simple: for each Windows XP user account you want to use the same Outlook Express settings you'll log in and configure Outlook Express the same way. In your case that means using same email account, names, addresses, passwords, and what-have-you.

After doing that, you'll both be able to send and receive email on the same account, but you'll still have separate mailboxes, and each of you will not easily be able to see the mailbox of the other.

If that's ok you can stop reading here. You're done.

To have multiple configurations of Outlook Express share the same mailboxes we'll have to configure them to all point to the same Store Folder. From your question I assume you've already got email working when you log in as yourself, so we'll find out where that message store is and use it for your husband as well.

Logged in as yourself in Outlook Express, click on the Tools menu, Options menu item, Maintenance tab, and then finally the Store Folder... button. It will tell you that "Your personal message store is located in the following folder:". Copy down that folder name.

Backup the contents of that folder. For now just copying the contents somewhere else will do.

Log in as your husband and then in Outlook Express go to the same Store Folder... setting in options. This time press the Change... button, and use the browse control to locate the folder you copied down when you were logged in. Once you've found it, click on it, click OK, and then OK your way back out of the options dialog.

Along the way Outlook Express will tell you that this setting will not take effect until you exit and restart Outlook Express. Do that and your husband should now be able to see the same mail folders you do, as well as being able to send and receive email on your shared account.

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