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Which Outlook add-ins do I really need?

I checked the list of add-ins that I have installed for Outlook and I’m a bit surprised how many I have installed.

I thought I was just using “plain vanilla” Outlook without add-ins but apparently Outlook already comes with some pre-installed and some others were added by installing other applications.

I now try to “weed out” the additional add-ins hoping that it will improve my Outlook startup time as it is fast when launching Outlook in Safe Mode.

Which add-ins do I really need and which are safe to disable?

Button Add-insOutlook indeed already comes with its own set of add-ins. Not all of them are activated and not all the ones which are activated by default are needed in every configuration.

In addition, other Microsoft applications or 3rd party applications could add some add-ins to Outlook as well. Whether those are needed depends on if and how you use that application. In any case, they are not needed for proper operation of Outlook itself.

Then there are of course a whole lot of other add-ins which are primarily focused on adding functionality to Outlook. But as you’ve probably installed these type of add-ins more consciously, we’ll leave them out of this overview.

To see which add-ins you have installed and for instructions on how to disable them see: Enable/Disable add-ins

Default add-ins from Outlook

The default add-ins that ship with Outlook are designed not to slow down Outlook in any way if you do not need them. Still, you are free to disable them if you don’t use them.

The default add-ins which are added depend on your version of Outlook and which additional applications from the Office Suite you have installed (so some might not be listed for you, which is OK). Below is an overview of these add-ins with an indication of when you really need it to have it enabled.

  • Business Connectivity Services AddIn
    Mainly used for integrating external SharePoint data in Outlook. If you are not connected to a SharePoint site, you do not need it.
     
  • Microsoft Exchange Add-In
    Required for various Exchange account features. It is not needed when you do not have any Exchange accounts configured in Outlook.
     
  • Microsoft Outlook Social Connector / Outlook Social Connector 2013
    This is the People Pane feature which shows at the bottom of the Reading Pane and allows you to connect to social media services such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Windows Live Messenger Contacts. It is not needed if you do not use this feature.
     
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server Colleague Import Add-In
    This add-in scans your Sent Items folder to determine which colleagues are being offered on the Add Colleagues page on a user’s SharePoint My Site. It is not needed when you do not use SharePoint and even then, you are free to disable it if you do not like the feature.
     
  • Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging
    Required for when you use Outlook 2007 and have an Exchange mailbox which has Unified Messaging features enabled on the Exchange server.
     
  • OneNote Notes about Outlook Items
    In case you also use OneNote to save additional notes and have them linked with Outlook or create Task items in OneNote. For instance: Using OneNote to create linked Appointment Tasks.
     
  • Microsoft Access Outlook Add-In for Data Collection and Publishing
    This add-in allows you to sync data with Access. Not needed if you do not use it.
     
  • Microsoft VBA for Outlook Add-in
    In case you want to use macros in Outlook, keep it enabled. It will only load when it is needed (which is why it is inactive by default).
     
  • Windows Search Email Indexer
    Leave this add-in disabled in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 as Outlook offers native indexing support.

In Outlook 2007 and previous, you will also have the following Exchange Server client extensions which are only needed when you are using an Exchange account.

  • Delegate Access
  • Deleted Item Recovery
  • Exchange Extensions commands
  • Exchange Extensions property pages

Other common Microsoft add-ins you might encounter

There are various other Microsoft add-ins which may have been added to your list of Outlook add-ins. These all relate to other Microsoft applications or Outlook extensions which are installed on your system.

Their name usually reveals which application added them. If you do not use that application, it is safe to disable them.

Common third party add-ins you might encounter

Other applications may also add add-ins to Outlook which you might not have expected at first. For instance, iTunes adds the following 3 add-ins to Outlook:

  • iTunes Outlook AddIn
  • Outlook Change Notifier
  • iCloud Add-in

The first two are not needed if you do not sync your iPhone, iPad or iPod with Outlook via iTunes. The other add-in is not needed if you do not use iCloud in Outlook.

Virus scanner add-ins
There are also various virus scanners which add an add-in to Outlook. Disabling add-ins added by your virus scanner is actually recommended as they are a known source for causing strange send/receive problems and don’t add an additional layer of protection anyway. For further details on this see: Disable virus scanner integration?

 



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