Touching a Folder Changes EML (Email) File Dates in Beyond Compare

I had some EML files (i.e., files with an .eml extension). I viewed them in Beyond Compare, on a system running Windows 7 x64. The mere act of touching on them in the viewer caused them to adopt today’s date and time, instead of their original date and time. It looked like others had experienced similar behavior with some kinds of mousing or selecting in Windows Explorer.

A search led to a two-part solution. I was only in the process of applying that solution myself, at this writing; I could not yet say whether it would work as expected or would have any unwanted side effects. This post is merely to summarize what I got from my review of various webpages on the matter.

The first part of the solution was to stop Windows from doing this. Some suggested that it was caused by the installation or use of Windows Live Mail or some other Microsoft program. Some said the problem would recur, even after being fixed, if the program was installed or used again.

There appeared to be some agreement that the solution was to remove a certain registry key that was supposedly responsible. Apparently this key enabled Windows to index EML files. Removing it would have the side effect of preventing Windows search from finding EML files. That did not affect me. I used Everything as my file finder. After the fix, I found that Everything was still finding EMLs as usual.

The manual way of removing the registry key was to run Regedit (or some other registry editing tool), go to the designated address in the registry, and delete the key. It appeared that I might have to do this repeatedly, however, so I wrote a registry editing (.reg) file that would remove the key in question and also save notes for the future. That file, which I saved in Notepad with the name of “Prevent WinEx from Updating EMLs.reg,” looked like this:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

; Original state -- remove semicolons to restore

; [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\PropertySystem\PropertyHandlers\.eml]
; @="{5FA29220-36A1-40f9-89C6-F4B384B7642E}"

; Revised state: delete the key -- add semicolon to disable deletion


; May also be sufficient to subtract the value and leave the key
; Possible solutions in that case:
; @=""
; OR
; @=-

I ran that .reg file. As I could see in Regedit, it removed the key in question.

The other part of the fix was to undo the damage caused by the bug. For this, Lizard Software offered EML Atributer (sic). I downloaded and ran it. It told me to select the folder where the EMLs were located, and then click OK. It ran. It was a resource hog — that is, other processes underway on my computer were visibly slowed down. I might have been able to reduce its demands by using a tool like Process Hacker.

When it was done, it informed me that it had changed most email file attributes but had left a small number unchanged. I verified that this was true. I did not know why EML Atributer had been unable to fix those particular files. But if necessary, I had the option of using other tools to edit those files’ attributes. There was also the option of using a file comparison tool (e.g., Beyond Compare) to identify and restore from backup any files whose dates did not match.

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