Crash or no sound for Reminders window

Whenever a reminder fires, the Reminders window comes up and Outlook crashes.

I’ve already tried
starting Outlook with the /cleanreminders switch
checked my pst-file for errors with scanpst.exe
but the crash still happens whenever the Reminder window comes up.

What else can I try to fix this?

Outlook crashing or not making any sound when the Reminders window pops up is often the result of having a bad audio coded installed.

Codec packs

A common scenario in which you can get bad audio codecs on your system is by using “shady” codec packs. There are a lot of them out there which claim that you’ll this to play each and every audio and video file on your system, but the truth is; not all codec packs are good for your system and you should really only install the codecs you need from trustworthy sources. (Personally I try to limit myself to ffdshow tryouts which is a free open source project on Sourgeforce and did not have any problems with it.)

If you have a codec pack installed on your system, uninstall it and see if the issue already goes away.

Crash without a sound?

If Outlook still crashes even with the codec pack uninstalled, you want to verify if it works if you disable the reminder sound;

  • Outlook 2007 and previous
    Tools-> Options…-> tab Other-> button Advanced Options…-> button Reminder Options…-> disable option: Play reminder sound
  • Outlook 2010
    File-> Options-> section Advanced-> section: Reminders-> disable option: Play reminder sound

Reminders options in Outlook 2010
Reminders options in Outlook 2010.

Note: If you directly go to this setting when Outlook launches, it won’t have the time to display the Reminder window and won’t crash either.

No crash without sound

If Outlook now no longer crashes upon displaying the Reminder window then the audio codec is definitely to blame. If you have already uninstalled your codec pack and/or any other application that might have added some audio codecs, then you’ll have to dig into the Registry to find out if there are any 3rd party references to audio/video codecs.

You can find the reference list in this Registry hive;
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Drivers32

The default Windows codecs only have a file reference except for msacm.l3acm and msacm.iac2 (Windows XP only). Basically all other entries that hold a full data path is suspect.

List of default codec references in Windows 7
List of default codec references in Windows 7.

Resetting default Windows audio/video codecs

Sadly, recovering isn’t as easy as simply deleting the other keys as that won’t reinstate the reference to the original audio codecs. For most cases you can recover in the following way;

  1. Export the current Drivers32 Registry key via; File-> Export…
  2. Delete the entire Drivers32 key or only the keys holding a full path reference.
  3. Download and extract this zip-file;
  4. Import the Registry key matching your Windows version.
  5. Restart your computer.
  6. Enable the sound option for Reminders again in Outlook.

Note: These Registry keys were exported from newly created systems. Applications requiring 3rd party codecs may need to be reinstalled afterwards in order to function properly again. Optionally you could import your exported reg-file and selectively delete the references in step 2 mentioned above to find the culprit codec.

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