Have you run into a problem with the Outlook client and someone suggested, “Hey, turn on tracing and let me know what you find”?

Gee, thanks. That’s helpful, right?

Here’s what you need to know about tracing for the Outlook client:

  1. What is tracing?
    1. Tracing is a way to gather a list of the information passed back and forth between a program and a computer. For the CRM Outlook client, tracing will show a chronological, readable play-by-play of what the add-in is trying to do, including error messages that are often more helpful than “An error occurred. Please contact your System Administrator.” (Side note: Microsoft has done an admirable job in CRM 2011 of minimizing these generic error messages, so no digs implied, Microsoft!)
  2. How do I turn tracing on?
    1. If you encounter weird errors and there’s no apparent cause (like a SwagBucks browser add-on perusing all your web traffic – c’mon, people!), you can enable tracing by going to the Start menu > All Programs > Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 > Diagnostics. Click on the Advanced Troubleshooting tab, and place a checkmark next to “Tracing”. Then click Save.

  3. Where do I find the results?
    1. Aaah, you actually want to see what happens?! The trace files (simple text files) are saved on your hard drive. By default (in Windows 7) they can be found at:


      (Obviously, unless you’re the star of Get Shorty, you need to change the name in the path above.)
  4. What else should I know?
    1. Turn tracing off when you’re done playing around. Collecting all that information can slow your Outlook client down. Then send the files to your friendly neighborhood support type person.
    2. I’m not going to go into the meaning of the information in the trace files here because this is a post about Tracing 101, and that’s a 200-level topic, and that’s what Google Bing is for (and it’s been a long day!).