Q: Comcast told me I had to change my Outlook 2007 settings in order to keep receiving e-mail. After I made the changes, I could still send e-mails but I couldn’t receive any, and a new inbox was created that didn’t contain my old e-mail. A Comcast technician finally helped fix Outlook so I could send and receive e-mail again, but many messages contained in the original inbox are missing. How can I get my e-mails back?

Claudia Schuman, Champlin


A: Comcast is trying to make its e-mail system more secure for customers with older POP (post office protocol) e-mail accounts. To do that, it’s requiring you to switch Outlook 2007’s e-mail communications to a different “port,” or software connection. (Specifically, you’re being asked to switch Outlook from port 110 to port 995; see tinyurl.com/yb63okm5).

This has been a bumpy transition, and several customers have complained that their e-mail didn’t work after they changed the Outlook port number. In your case, Comcast seems to have made your e-mail work correctly, but at the expense of deleting old e-mails that you wanted to save.

The big question is whether those missing e-mails can be recovered. In POP e-mail accounts, the default setting is for e-mails to be deleted from the mail server once they’ve been downloaded to your PC. So, if the e-mails are also missing from your PC, they may be gone for good.

But, if the e-mails still exist somewhere, here are some ways you can try to recover them:

• If the missing e-mails were only recently deleted, you might be able to recover them from within Outlook (see directions at tinyurl.com/y9gyhuoq).

• It’s possible that the missing e-mails were saved somewhere on your PC. To find them, search your PC’s hard drive for files in the “.pst” format that Outlook 2007 uses. To do that, open Windows Explorer (called File Explorer in Windows 8 and 10), click on the C drive, and in the search box at the upper right, type “.pst” (without the quotation marks.) Click Enter.

• POP mail accounts can be set so that they don’t automatically delete e-mail from the server once the messages have been downloaded to a computer (see tinyurl.com/yb4lp8ou). If your account is set up that way, your old mail may still be on Comcast’s mail server.

• E-mail providers like Comcast sometimes retain deleted e-mail on the server for a limited period of time before actually erasing it. If that’s the case, Comcast may be able to help you recover some recently deleted mail.


Q: I think my Outlook e-mail program is set up to send messages in HTML format. How do I change that to plain text format?

Joseph Campbell, Burnsville


A: Go to the File tab in Outlook, choose “options,” then choose “mail.” Under the heading “compose messages,” go to “compose messages in this format” and click on HTML, plain text or rich text.

Plain text is the simplest format. Rich text supports bold and italic typefaces and symbols such as bullets. HTML offers colored text, different fonts, numbered lists and the inclusion of photos. For more about HTML e-mail, see my recent column (tinyurl.com/y7zesnje).


E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com. Include name, city and telephone number.