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Solving Human Interface Device Quirks in Microsoft Outlook

written by: •edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 7/23/2011

Obviously, Microsoft Outlook should work without any problems, and usually does. However, if you experience erratic behavior scrolling through messages, the fault might not be Outlook, but instead your input devices, especially if you are using a wireless mouse and/or keyboard.

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    Windows is renowned for its quirks, but the problems are often caused by other issues rather than the operating system itself. There are various examples of this, such as cases when software and drivers don’t operate together in the correct manner, resulting in some rather unusual behavior.

    For instance, you might find that keyboard entry fails to work correctly, or that control of your mouse appears to go haywire. These things can potentially occur in any application, and at times you may not notice; it might be a short occurrence that takes place when you are looking away from the screen, for instance, or control might be temporarily lost while browsing the web or enjoying a Flash-based online game.

    None of these things are particularly unusual – however, finding that your open Microsoft Outlook email message scrolls without any keys pressed or the mouse being used is a problem. How can you stop it?

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    Scripts and Security Issues

    Microsoft Outlook can be the target of hackers and backdoor trojans While there are other issues that might cause this problem, the first thing you should do is consider the email message itself. Who was it from? What was the message about? Additionally, give some thought to the scrolling action – can it be stopped? Is the message window seemingly scrolling into infinity?

    Worse still, is someone else controlling your computer and reading your emails remotely?

    One particular cause of this fault could be a script in the email message. While current versions of Outlook should be protected against this type of vulnerability, if you have an older release of the popular email client that hasn’t been patched then there is every chance that the email message features some code that is causing this error.

    To prevent this from becoming a larger issue on your system, close Outlook and run your anti-virus software to scan your PC. Additionally, check that Outlook is fully up to date and that you have no updates or hotfixes pending, and arrange for email scanning software to be installed.

    Another cause of unusual behavior in Outlook can be the presence of Outlook add-ins, which is software that is installed separately on your computer but is integrated with Outlook. You can check if you are using any add-ins via File > Options > Add-Ins in Outlook 2010, where you will find a comprehensive list of items. If any seem like obvious problems, select Manage > COM Add-ins and click Go… to access a new screen where you can disable any installed add-ins.

    Alternatively, if you are reluctant to do this, exit Outlook and then press WINDOWS+R and enter outlook.exe /safe to launch the application in safe mode, without any of the add-ins running. You should find that if the issue occurs now, it is hardware related rather than software/malware.

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    Human Input Devices and Drivers

    Not every cause of your Microsoft Outlook email message scrolling without any keys pressed phenomenon can be attributed to malicious scripts, however. Hardware issues may have caused this unusual fault to occur, and this is something that you will need to have checked.

    For instance, and perhaps most obviously, a fault with the keyboard might have caused the problem. Cleaning your keyboard from time to time is a good way to ensure that the device lasts as long as possible – all you should need to do is give it a wipe with a slightly damp cloth once a day, and avoid eating too close to the device. Food and stationery items are the main cause of faults on desktop and laptop keyboards, and their presence under the keys can cause all manner of problems, not least keys apparently being “pressed".

    Human Input Devices and Drivers Furthermore, if your mouse is a non-standard device (such as a trackball, for instance) you might opt to reinstall the device drivers for this hardware; the same might be considered for a non-standard keyboard (such as a touch-sensitive device or a keyboard designed for gaming).

    Installing a new driver is a simple case of uninstalling the existing one, and this can be done via Start > right-click Computer > Properties > Device Manager. Here, expand Mice and other pointing devices, right-click the listing for your mouse and select Uninstall. A few moments later the device should be uninstalled, so restart your PC and wait for the hardware to be detected and the drivers reinstalled. You can uninstall your keyboard in the same way by selecting the hardware listed under Keyboards.

    One other point to consider here is the effect of wireless Internet and mobile phone signals on Bluetooth or wireless mice. Cell phones in particular are renowned for creating issues with computer mice, so positioning your phone as far from the mouse as possible will prevent any interference that might have resulted in automatic scrolling.

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    As you can see, there are various reasons why you might find any window scrolling without input from yourself via mouse or keyboard.

    These suggested fixes are intended to deal with every possible cause of the problem. The fact is that this is an unusual occurrence, and one that can probably only be dealt with by dogged and determined troubleshooting.

    Of course, simply restarting Windows might prevent this oddity from ever occurring again.

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    Author's own experience.

    Screenshots provided by author.

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