I’ve recently dealt with the disappearing Rules and Alerts dialogue box issue which occurs in Microsoft Outlook. I’ve outlined the scenario below.
Setup: Windows 7 Professional (32-bit), Outlook 2007, and Outlook Anywhere configured on the client machine. Windows Server 2008 R2 with Microsoft Exchange 2010 on server machine. In this particular situation the client and server were on completely separate networks, hence the Outlook Anywhere configuration.
Symptom: Selecting Tools > Rules and Alerts in Outlook 2007 opens the dialogue box for just an instant (less that one second) and immediately closes it again.
Possible Cause: Corrupt server-side rules and alerts. In the case that I worked on recently the user had made a lot of changes to their rules and alerts prior to shutting down the computer. My best guess is that Outlook did not have sufficient time to propagate the changes over the internet to the Exchange server before being disconnected. This would result in an incomplete or corrupted rules and alerts profile.
WARNING: Following these next few steps will cause you to lose all of your rules and alerts that you currently have in place. It is recommended that you create a backup of them before preceding. Chances are though, if you are here reading this fix its already too late to run a backup as you cannot access the Rules and Alerts manager window.
Solution: Clearing all the rules and alerts from the server should fix this issue. There are a number of ways to do this. The first of which is to launch Outlook with the “/cleanserverrules” switch. The easiest way to do this would be from a run command using the following line:
Once Outlook opens give it some time to sync with the Exchange server before opening the Rules and Alerts window again.
Alternate Solution: If this does not work for you (which it didn’t for me) there is a less orthodox method that you can use to wipe the server side rules and alerts. This alternative method uses the Outlook Web App site to overwrite the corrupted rules and alerts. Any rules or alerts created in the Outlook Web App will override any rules already put in place by the Outlook 2007 client software. To do this, log into your email account via the Outlook Web App site, click Options in the top right corner and select Create an Inbox Rule… as shown in the picture below.
Outlook Web App should let you know that any rules or alerts created here will override the ones put in place by the Outlook 2007 client. If you select OK all of your current rules and alerts will be erased from the server. This also clears out any of the corrupt ones which initially caused this issue. I discovered, that in order for it to actually wipe out the existing rules and alerts, you must create at least one new rule or alert in the Outlook Web App site.
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