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Cyrillic (Russian) in Outlook Express ver. 5 and higher
(ver. 6 works with Russian same way as ver. 5)

Paul Gorodyansky 'Cyrillic (Russian): instructions for Windows and Internet'

Important!   As it was noted in the section of my site called "Russian in Browsers/Mail/News", where I list the instructions for some Internet applications, including this page about Outlook Express,
there is no reason to read about the tune-up for this program if you haven't learned yet about Windows itself - Cyrillic fonts and Russian encodings. It is covered in a section of my site called "Cyrillic fonts and encodings under Windows".
That is, it's assumed that you have your Cyrillic fonts activated and become familiar with Cyrillic encodings used under MS Windows.

It's also assumed that you have Russian keyboard tools activated as described in the "Russian Keyboard" section of my site, if you are going to write in Russian in Outlook Express.

Abbreviation OE is used below for Outlook Express.

First, a very short instruction for one special category of OE users.
If a person needs to use Russian in OE only from time to time, pretty seldom, then such person does not need to perform a full, complete tune-up of OE to Russian described below on this page. That is:

Then such user does not need a complete tune-up and can make Russian work only when needed - each time s/he sends or receives Russian e-mail:

If you belong to this category of users (that is, you do not need to read Russian in the list of Subjects, it's Okay for you to switch to Russian only when needed), then you do not need to read further, because below I offer a full, complete tune-up for Russian in OE, where Russian is selected as a Default Encoding of OE.

Russian as Default in Outlook Express ver. 5 and later
(lets you read the list of Subjects, no need to choose Russian each time you send e-mail, etc.)

If you want to use Russian in OE 5, then you should not use the very first version of it - OE 5.0:
there was a known software error in that version and Russian was unreadable in the Subjects list.

This error was fixed in the next release - OE 5.01.

To figure out what version you have - 5.0 or 5.01 - just go to Help/About:
OE 5.01 begins from the modification number 5.0.2919.xxxx, while all modifications with smaller numbers - (5.00.2314.xxxx, 5.0.2417.xxxx) mean that it is that 5.0 version with the error.

I was not able to find OE 5.01 on Microsoft site, but found it on the following site - "FTP.MTU.RU - IE 5.01".

That is, if currently you have Internet Explorer/Outlook Express 5.0, then you may want to install 5.01, instead - download everything from the above site and then run ie5setup.exe.

You may want to do differently - switch from your IE/OE 5.0 to a newer version - 5.5 or 6.0.
But beware that Outlook Express ver. 5.5 and higher introduced again a problem of unreadable Subjects in the list - 5.01 does not have such problem!
The problem (unreadable Cyrillic in the list of Subjects) exists only under Windows 95/98/ME, where Cyrillic is not a System Code Page, for example, regular English Windows 98.
It does not exist under Windows NT 4.0/2000/XP.

This problem of the newer versions is described below on this page, in the section "OE 5.5+ problem under Windows 95/98/ME".

So, don't rush to install IE/OE 5.5, see first if it's Ok for you to do.
May be you'll find out that you should not do it and need to get just 5.01.

Necessary note regarding MIME because MIME is present in OE setup menus.
Generally, MIME is a 7-bit coding of some 8-bit text.
MIME-encoded Cyrillic text of a Subject of a message would look like this, for instance:
Subject: =?koi8-r?B?8NLP18XSy8E=?=

and then a client program, for example, OE or Netscape decodes such incoming text into a normal 8-bit Russian text.

MIME-coding can be used for both Subject of a message and its 'body'.

It is possible to ask OE to use MIME only in a internal, system part of a message header and do not encode 'body' of that message into a MIME-based text.
There is still a big advantage in such use of MIME: system header then will contain the information about character encoding of this message.
System header, while using MIME, will contain a line where Russian encoding is specified, for example

   MIME-Version: 1.0
   Content-Type: text/plain; charset="koi8-r"
and that will help programs to work with Russian in such message's text.


Here are my step-by-step instructions for Russian in Outlook Express ver. 5.01 and up (for Russian in Netscape Mail/News see a link to my instruction at the bottom of this page):

  1. Setup for reading Russian messages

  2. In OE menu, go to Tools/Options/Read, and there:
  3. Setup for sending Russian messages

  4. Go to Tools/Options/Send, and there:


Important Note.
Outlook Express loads a list of Subjects for some Newsgroup only once.
That is, if you visited some Russian language Newsgroup before following the above instructions (that is, when your Default Encoding was not Cyrillic), then the list of Subjects has been already loaded and thus may still be unreadable even after you make Cyrillic your Default.
You need to force OE to re-load the list of Subjects for this new Default to take an effect:

The above was a description of an initial, one-time tune-up for OE.
Now, after that tune-up is done, you work with OE this way:

Special Case:
Cyrillic problem in OE version 5.5 and higher under Windows 95/98/ME

Plug-In Fidolook Express as solution

Outlook Express version 5.5 and higher has the following problem (earlier versions didn't have such problem) with Cyrillic (only under Windows 95/98/ME. There is no such problem under Unicode-based Windows NT 4.0/2000/XP):

In the environment described below, Cyrillic is not readable in the list of Subjects.
That is, even after you make KOI8-R your default and then open a Newsgroup list, KOI8-R text in the List of Subjects will not be readable!

Here is a description of the environment where this OE 5.5 problem occurs:

  Windows 95/98/ME where Cyrillic is not a main system code page.

Examples of such environment:

That is, it's a non-Russian version of Windows 95/98/ME where a user did not perform a full, system-level Russification making Russian a main system code page and thus replacing non-Russian system fonts (.fon files) with Russian system fonts.

(Russification on the user-level does not play any role here. That is, the problem still exists if a user of such system activates user-level package "Multilanguage Support")

That is, it's the same environment, where one can not see Cyrillic in the interface (menus, dialogs, Help, etc.) of some software made in Russia or Russian file names on some music CD-ROM.
That environment and the methods of full, system-level Russification are discussed on my site in a section "More Russification. Q&A".

If the above is not your environment, then you will not have such problem and can stop reading this page - below I have a solution for this specific problem and that's it.

So, what to do if you work under such Windows 95/98/ME and use OE ver. 5.5 or higher and therefore can not see Russian in the Subjects list (and thus can not use a Russian Newsgroup)?

  You should use a free Plug-In to Outlook Express 5.x+ (no such Plug-In for ver. 4.x of OE) called Fidolook Express, that will solve this problem and any other language-specific problems.
This Plug-In is being developed by Russian programmer Andrey No and makes OE a real multilingual application.

You will need to start Fidolook Express and not Outlook Express. Fidolook Express will call OE itself and then they will work as one application.

NOTE. There is a special Russian language Newsgroup devoted to this program where people report the bugs and the author responds:
You can also read this Newsgroup, for example, using Web-based News service Talk.ru.

Here is an MS Help file for Fidolook Express (in Russian):

Here is my instruction for Fidolook Express usage:

  1. Create a directory (folder) on your hard drive to store the files of Fidolook Express
  2. Download and open - extract files - (for instance using WinZip) the archive containing all files:
    (if your browser will not show you Save As dialog, then do it differently - click on the above link with the right button of your mouse and choose "Save Target As" or "Save Link As")

  3. Start the program - fidolook2.exe (and in the future start this file when you need to work with OE, instead of calling OE itself)

  4. You will see that Outlook Express is being called and then you'll see a new, added panel of Fidolook Express that contains its menus.
  5. In the Fidolook Express menu go to Misc/Setup Miscellaneous/Message List and:
  6. In the menu, go to Templates/Setup Extended Templates and place a check mark next to "Totally do not use Fidolook Style Templates", to use your Signature that you selected in OE itself.
    Otherwise Fidolook Express would choose one of the common signatures used in the Russian network Fido7.

Now Cyrillic becomes readable in the Subject list of OE folders such as Inbox.
For the Newsgroups the situation is a little bit different - as I mentioned above, OE loads a list of Subject for a Newsgroup only once so even with Fidolook Express some previously visited Newsgroups may have unreadable Subjects in the list. In such case you need to apply the method described in the general OE setup above:
Unsubscribe from such Newsgroup and then subscribe to it again to force OE to create a new list of Subjects.

Paul Gorodyansky. 'Cyrillic (Russian): instructions for Windows and Internet'