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Pocket PC - 'ActiveSync: 1 Unread Message' on the Today Screen
By Raj Pillai, Copyright 2004-2005
 Version 1.00  Created  17/05/2005

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The Today screen displays important information, such as today's appointments and status icons for your device. The information type displayed will entirely depend upon the items chosen to be displayed (Tap Start -> Settings -> Today -> Item tab sheet). One of them being the Inbox status.

The Inbox displays the information about the status of messages and upon tapping it, opens up the Pocket Inbox application. In a normal situation it would display the count of unread message as seen below.

Screen 1

However, often users tend to experience the message 'ActiveSync: x Unread Message' even if there are no unread messages in the Inbox.  Sometimes the Inbox might not have a single message yet it continues to display this status.  Tapping the message yields no result.  It will simply open up the Inbox application.

What is causing the message to be displayed?

To understand the cause, let look at what happens inside when a mail is synchronized to your mobile device.  The message is first stored in the system database and a flag is set to show that the message is unread.  The moment the mail is opened the flag status changes and the changes are reflected on your Today screen accordingly.  I have not been able to recreate this issue directly but have noticed that if I were to delete the message from the system database the status would still continue to display as 'ActiveSync: 1 Unread Message'.

So it appears that in some scenarios where a mail is getting deleted on the Pocket PC does not seem to set the flag status correctly.  Causing it to display the incorrect information. 

How to solve this problem?

The most common response to solve this problem will be to delete and recreate the partnership due to the nature in which ActiveSync synchronizes your Inbox.  For more information refer ActiveSync and Inbox.

I would advice you to try the following method if all your other attempts at solving the problem are unsuccessful.   A hard reset would definitely solve the problem but then that will need you to reinstall all your program and involves a lot more time. 

What you will need:

You will need a software which will display the system databases to you.  There are several available but in this example I am using a freeware called dbView.  Please take extreme caution if you are planning to tweak or delete the records/databases.  Ensure you have performed a *BACKUP* before editing any entries.  This way you can always revert back if something goes wrong.

Note: The following procedure involves editing a few entries in the System Database which is never supported by any manufacturer or Microsoft.

All set? Lets search for your "unread" message.

Follow the steps given below and you should be able to find the flag entry which has not been updated:

  1. To start, make sure you don't have any mails in your Pocket Inbox.  Refer to Clearing the Mails from the Pocket PC Inbox.  Next, create a dummy mail with a unique subject in the ActiveSync Draft folder.  Tap and hold this mail and move it to your Inbox from the Drafts folder.  Make sure that this mail is set to as unread.  If it is read, tap and hold the mail and select "Mark as Unread".  This should cause a change in the information the Today screen is displaying.  It should show it as "ActiveSync: 2 Unread Message".

    Screen 2   Screen 3   Screen 4

    Screen 5   Screen 6


  2. Next access the DBView application and start looking for the dummy message you created under the folders titled "fldrxxxxxxx" (x represents a number).  Each folder represents the folders that your e-mail account has.  So if you have configured several e-mail accounts on your device the number of folders will be more.  You might find several folders but look out for the ones that contain only one entry (Refer Screen 8).  If you find such a folder, select the entry and scroll horizontally and look out for the Subject you had entered.  The subject should be stored under a field titled - "0x0037 (String)" - (Refer Screen 9)  If there is a match, then note the folder number.
    Note: The field titles might be different depending on the Pocket PC. Even if the field title is not the same, you can follow the information as a guideline and complete the steps.

    Screen 7   Screen 8   Screen 9


  3. Search for a "pmailFolders" under the system databases and select it.  This system database will be at the end of the folder hierarchy.  Now comes the tricky part.  Slide the horizontal scroll bar and look out for a field "0x8003 (String) that contains "fldrxxxxxxx" entries.  Under this field look out for the folder number you had noted earlier.  In the example provided, the folder number noted is "fldr7001264".

    Screen 10


  4. Select the entry and scroll horizontally to the extreme right end.  The field title would be "0x3603 (UInt)".  You might need to expand the title heading.  You will see numbers under this fields (Refer Screen 11).  It should display the number that appears on your Today screen.  In our example look out for the number 2 since currently our Today screen is showing 2 unread messages.  To make an additional confirmation, scroll horizontally until you find "0x3001(String)" field.  This should display Inbox for the selected record since the mail item is in the Inbox (Refer Screen 12).

    Screen 11   Screen 12


  5. So now that you have located the cause, proceed to delete this entry.  Select the entry and tap Tools -> Delete Record in DBView. 

    Screen 13


  6. Next return to the folder number you had noted earlier and delete the record from that folder as well.  This will delete the dummy mail you created.  Your Today screen message will reflect the changes.  Next perform a soft reset.

    Screen 14


  7. You can proceed to change the settings for number of days in ActiveSync for Inbox synchronization to get back your e-mail messages on the Pocket PC with the correct status.


The above steps should help isolate the problem and help you clear the incorrect status.  I have received several positive feedbacks about using this approach to solve the problem. 

Read other articles by Raj Pillai

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