Windows XP : Participating in Internet Newsgroups - Downloading Messages

8/24/2012 3:12:03 AM

Downloading Message Headers

When you’re in online mode, Outlook Express offers the following methods for downloading a newsgroup’s message headers (this is called synchronizing the headers):

  • Click the newsgroup in the Folders list. Outlook Express will download the headers for you automatically. For busy groups, the default download limit of 300 might not grab every header. To get more headers, select Tools, Get Next 300 Headers. (As you’ll see later, you can adjust this header limit to your liking.)

  • Click the newsgroup and then select the Tools, Synchronize Newsgroup command. In the Synchronize Newsgroup dialog box, activate the Get the Following Items check box, activate the Headers Only option, and then click OK.

  • To synchronize multiple newsgroups at once, select the news server in the Folders list and then select all the groups that you want to work with. Click Settings and then click Headers Only. Now click Synchronize Account. Outlook Express downloads all the available headers for the newsgroups you selected.

If you’re on a dial-up connection, you might want to switch to offline mode at this point so that you can review the headers.

Downloading Messages

To view the contents of any message (the message body) while you’re online, just select it in the message list. Outlook Express then downloads the message body and displays the message text in the preview pane.

Working Offline: Marking Messages for Downloading

If you’re working offline, you need to mark those messages that you want to download. Here are the techniques you can use:

  • Marking a single message for download—Select the message and then select Tools, Mark for Offline, Download Message later. You can also right-click the message and then click Download Message Later.

  • Marking a thread for download—Select any message in the thread and then select Tools, Mark for Offline, Download Conversation Later.

  • Marking all the messages for download—Select Tools, Mark for Offline, Download All Messages Later.

In each case, Outlook Express places a small, blue arrow to the left of the marked messages.

If you change your mind about downloading a message, select it and then select Tools, Mark for Offline, Do Not Download Message. (To start over again, first choose Edit, Select All to highlight every message, and then choose the Tools, Mark for Offline, Do Not Download Message command.)

Working Offline: Getting the Message Bodies

To get the message bodies, follow these steps:

Switch to online mode.

Select the Tools, Synchronize Newsgroup command to display the Synchronize Newsgroup dialog box.

Make sure that the Get Messages Marked for Download check box is activated, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Use this dialog box to tell Outlook Express what you want to download.

You can also leave the Get the Following Items check box activated and then select one of the following options:

All MessagesThis option downloads every available header and body.
New Messages OnlyThis option looks for new messages and downloads both the headers and the bodies.
Headers OnlyThis option looks for new headers and downloads them.

Click OK. Outlook Express starts downloading the messages.

When the download is complete, switch to offline mode.

Notes on Working with Newsgroup Messages

You can treat newsgroup messages in much the same way that you treat email messages. That is, you can view the message text in the preview pane, open the message in its own window, save the message, copy it to another folder, and so on. Here are a few notes on tasks that are specific to newsgroup messages:

  • Dealing with threads— If you see a plus sign (+) beside a message header, it means that replies have been posted. To see the other messages in the thread, click the plus sign or highlight the message and press plus sign (+) on your numeric keypad.

  • Unscrambling ROT13 messages— Some messages are encoded using a scheme called ROT13. This scheme encodes the message by shifting the letters of the alphabet 13 positions to the right, and wrapping around to the front of the alphabet when the end is reached. (The ROT part is short for rotate.) If you come across a message that has been encoded using ROT13, you can use Outlook Express’s built-in decoder. To use it, select Message, Unscramble (ROT13).

  • Canceling one of your messages— If you post a message and then have second thoughts, you can remove it from the newsgroup by highlighting it and selecting Compose, Cancel Message. (This command is available only for messages you’ve sent.)

  • Combining and decoding multiple attachments— Some multimedia groups post large binary files that are split into multiple posts. To extract the original binary file from these posts, first select all the posts. Then select Message, Combine and Decode to display the Order for Decoding dialog box. Use the Move Up and Move Down button to order the posts (the subject lines usually tell you the proper order), and then click OK.

Following Up a Message

Usenet is at its best when it’s interactive: questions are asked and answered; the swords of conflicting opinions are crossed; debaters cut and parry to score points on contentious issues. The engine behind all this verbal jousting is, of course, the follow-up message. To post a follow-up with Outlook Express, follow these steps:

Select the original message in the message list.

Select Message, Reply to Group. (You can also press Ctrl+G or click the Reply Group toolbar button.) Outlook Express opens a message composition window and fills it with the text from the original article.

Cut out any unnecessary text from the original article.

Type your own text in the article body.

Select File, Send Message. (Alternatives for faster service: Alt+S or click the Send button.) Outlook Express displays a dialog box telling you that your message has been sent to the news server and that it might not appear immediately.

Click OK.


Instead of posting a follow-up message, you might prefer to reply directly to the author via email. To do this, select the message and select Message, Reply to Author (or else press Ctrl+R or click the Reply button).

If you want to send a message to both the group and the author, select Compose, Reply to All.

Posting a New Message

As I’ve said before, original messages are the lifeblood of Usenet because they get the discussions off the ground and give the rest of us something to read (as well as laugh at, sneer at, and hurl verbal abuse at). So, if you’re feeling creative, you can take advantage of this section, which shows you how to post a new message from Outlook Express.

To get started, select the newsgroup to which you want to post, and then use any of the following techniques:

  • Select Compose, New Message

  • Press Ctrl+N

  • Click the New Post button on the toolbar

Whichever method you choose, the New Message window appears. The only difference is that the To field is replaced by a Newsgroups field.

The Newsgroups field should show the name of the current newsgroup. If you want to send the message to multiple newsgroups, separate each name with a comma (,). (Alternatively, run the Tools, Select Newsgroups command and then choose a newsgroup from the dialog box that appears.)

To post your message, select File, Send Message (or press Alt+S, or click the Send button in the toolbar).

Filtering Newsgroup Messages

Such groups are said to have a bad signal-to-noise ratio. To help improve this ratio, Outlook Express has a newsgroup filter feature that enables you to set up criteria for messages you don’t want to see. Here are the steps to follow to set up a newsgroup filter:

Select the Tools, Message Rules, News command. Outlook Express displays the News Rule dialog box.

In the Select the Conditions for Your Rule list, activate the check box beside the rule condition you want to use to pick out a message from the herd. Outlook Express adds the condition to the Rule Description text box. Note that you’re free to select multiple conditions.

The condition shown in the Rule Description text box will probably have some underlined text. You need to replace that underlined text with the specific criterion you want to use (such as a word or an address). To do that, click the underlined text, type the criterion in the dialog box that appears, and click Add. Most conditions support multiple criteria (such as multiple addresses or multiple words in a subject line), so repeat this step as necessary. When you’re done, click OK.

In the Select the Actions for your rule list, activate the check box beside the action you want Outlook Express to take with messages that meet your criteria. Again, you might have to click underlined text in the Rule Description text box to complete the action. Also, you can select multiple actions.

If you selected multiple conditions, Outlook Express assumes that all the conditions must be true before invoking the rule (Boolean AND). To change this, click and in the Rule Description text box, activate the Messages Match Any One of the Criteria option, and click OK.

Use the Name of the Rule text box to type a descriptive name for the rule.

Click OK. Outlook Express drops you off at the News Rules tab of the Message Rules dialog box.
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