Using Outlook Express Effectively: Subscribing To Newsgroups

Why pay for a program to access newsgroups when you already have Outlook Express? We'll show you step-by-step how to configure Outlook to read newsgroups.

Most of us are probably familiar with the more common methods for communication on the Internet. E-mail's become almost second nature as has participating in various "chat rooms" and message forums. What you might not be aware of is that there's another medium. Specifically, I'm talking about the hundreds of thousands of special interest newsgroups that make up Usenet. With groups ranging from current events to zoology and everything in-between, there almost certainly is something for everyone. How do you join in? Microsoft's Outlook Express makes it easy.

Almost everything you need to read and participate in Usenet newsgroups is free. If you've installed the full Internet Explorer package, you already have Outlook Express installed and ready to use. Before we can configure Outlook for Usenet access, you'll need a few details from your Internet service provider. Assuming your ISP offers Usenet access, they should have provided you with a news server address that looks something like "" and possibly a separate username and password. If you don't have the information, contact your ISP's technical support department.

Configuring Outlook Express is about as simple as it gets. In fact, it's a lot like adding an e-mail account. By this point, you should have the information mentioned above and have an active connection to the Internet. Ready? Then here we go, step-by-step:

1. Open Outlook Express.

2. From the main screen of Outlook Express, click on "Tools" then "Accounts". This will bring you to the interface for adding e-mail and Usenet accounts. From here, we'll click on the "Add" button on the right and select "News" from the list that appears.

3. We should be looking at a window asking for a display name. Type in what you'd like to appear on your newsgroup posts. Clicking next brings us to a window asking for an e-mail address for replies. Enter the address for the e-mail account you'd like to use and click next.

4. This is where we need the information your ISP provided. In the box labeled "News (NNTP) server:" enter the server address your ISP gave you. Click on the box for "My news server requires me to log on" then click on the next button.

5. We're now looking at a window asking for your account name and password. If your ISP provided you with a separate user name and password for news group access enter it here. Otherwise, enter the user name and password your use for your ISP's e-mail account. Don't check the box for "Secure Password Authentication" unless your ISP has specifically told you to use it. When you've finished, click next.

6. Click finish on this last screen, then the close button on the account list. A prompt will appear asking if you'd like to download a list of newsgroups from the account you just added. Select yes, and the download begins. This may take some time depending on the speed of your connection.

7. Once the download has completed, you'll brought to a listing of the available newsgroups for your account. From here, you can search the list by keywords using the search bar at the top, or browse the list manually. Once you've found a group of interest, a double-click on the name will "subscribe" you to the group, making it available on the folder list that appears in the left pane of Outlook Express.

Now that you have Outlook Express set up to manage your newsgroups, the complicated part's over. From now on, accessing the newsgroups is a simple matter of clicking on the folder in the left pane, or the news server above it if you want to add additional groups. It's also a good idea to update the list of newsgroups about once a week when Outlook Express prompts you. Now go explore and enjoy; you have discussions waiting for you.

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