How to Delete Stuck Read Receipts

Last reviewed on May 22, 2013   —  51 comments

A reader was concerned that Outlook taken over by a virus as it was trying to send out messages from Outbox though the Outbox was empty.

It's not a virus, but a stuck read receipt. For some reason, the SMTP server won't accept it but Outlook keeps trying to send it. Read receipts are stored as hidden messages in the mailbox and you'll either need to configure Outlook to use a SMTP server that will accept the receipts or delete them using MFCMAPI.

If you are using a Comcast account and messages aren't sending, you need to change your outgoing server to use port 587 or 465 and set Use this following type of encrypted connection to None then click OK.

If you are using an IMAP account and getting NDRs for read receipts, see Outlook is Sending Unknown Messages

After deleting receipts several times, the user asked how to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

To avoid stuck read receipts, you'll need to configure Outlook to stop sending read receipts responses automatically or configure Outlook to always ask what to do. Although it's annoying to be asked if you want to send receipts, you will soon find out who requests receipts.

dont return read receipts by defaultIn Outlook 2010, the setting is in File, Options, Mail (Tracking is near the bottom of the dialog).

In Outlook 2007 and older, you'll find the option to disable read receipts in Tools, Options, Preferences, Email options, Tracking Options.

Send or delete stuck Read Receipts

There are two methods that can be used to get rid of read receipts:

  1. Change the SMTP server for the account to a SMTP that can send the receipt. After the read receipt is sent, change the SMTP back to the one you normally use for the account after they are sent.
  2. Delete the hidden messages using MFCMAPI.

We recommend using MFCMAPI because it does not install a program on your computer; the exe runs without making changes to your computer. You won't have to close and restart restart Outlook to use it.

Use MFCMAPI to Delete Stuck Read Receipts

Download and run MFCMAPI. Use the 32-bit version with Outlook 2007 and earlier or Outlook 2010 32-bit and the 64-bit build with Outlook 2010 64-bit.

Note that MFCMAPI is updated frequently and these instructions and screenshots are from one of the older versions. The menus may not be identical, but the steps are the same: logon, find the default data file, locate the receipts and delete.

1. From the Session menu, choose Logon and Display Store table

logon to mfcmapi and display table

2. Next, go to MDB menu and Open Default Message store.

Open the Default message store

When a secondary account has its own message store and places the outgoing messages in its own Outbox, select that account and right click, choose Open Store.

Tip: you can right click on the account in the list and choose Open Store instead.

3. Right click on Root Container and choose Open Contents Table

Open the root container folder

4. In the Contents table, right click a read receipt and choose Abort Submit. Ok the dialogs.

Right click on the receipt

5. Right click again and choose Delete message. Ok the dialogs.
Delete the read receipt

Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each read receipt you need to delete.

Note: Outlook Connector (Live/Hotmail/MSN) accounts do not return read receipts and you will not have any "stuck" receipts with these accounts.

Delete Read Receipts using MFCMAPI Video Tutorial

This video shows you how to delete read receipts using MFCMAPI.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

51 responses to “How to Delete Stuck Read Receipts”

  1. Bernadette

    WOW. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!!!! I have been having this problem for months and months and NO ONE could help me. i have googled and asked Microsoft and our IT guys and and and and. I finally found this and voila, its sorted. Thank you!

  2. Terry Finlayson

    Oh, I wish this had worked. I was so excited. Same thing--I've had this problem for 2 weeks. I did everything you explained, but when I select OPEN CONTENTS TABLE, there is nothing there. I can see it's my outlook box, because it shows both email accounts, but but where your "Instance Key" column shows a list of emails, mine is blank. It does not show the stuck email (which is just an empty test email) or the "hidden" email. ideas?

  3. Ben

    Is there a tool like MFCMAPI that would fix a read receipt problem in Outlook for Mac 2011?

  4. Charles Isaac

    I have the exact same problem, Outlook sending multiple emails of the same email, but nothing showing up in any box, In Box, Sent Box, Draft, etc. It has been happening since I swithced over my Outlook data from a company laptop to personal laptop. When I go to Open Contents Table, nothing is there. I see my email accounts. I am using Outlook 2010 on Windows 7. My email is through Charter.net. This happens with any group send, either from group list or a large number of individual receipents. I have worked with Charter and MS IT, so far I have not found an answer

  5. Rui Filipe

    I'm having the same problem. Any new idea?

  6. Brad Bennett

    I'm having the same/similar issue. Outbound email gets stuck in Outbox. I'm just sending 1 email but in the progress box it shows 3 messages being sent. I read elsewhere on your blog that I should remove add-ins... especially iCloud (which I didn't have) although I do sync my iPhone with Outlook. I've removed all of add-ins. Didn't help. Tried Outlook Safe mode -- didn't work. Tried using MFCMAPI but when I look in the contents table of the root container it's empty. This seems odd. I watched their video (and looked at your screen shots) and it seems I should see a lot of files...a few in the upper bucket and a bunch in the lower one. I looked in several of the root containers for my different emails addresses -- same thing. Have I missed something? I use Avast antivirus and use comcast and gmail. I have 5 email accounts coming into Outlook that have worked well for ages. Can you help? I have a laptop that's setup identically and it's working just fine.

  7. Brian

    I too opened the contents file and it was empty. I'm using Outlook 2007.

  8. Brad Bennett

    Thank you Diane. Just tried turning off outbound email scanning in Avast. No luck. I also tried dtberry's method at the bottom of this thread: http://www.techsupportforum.com/forums/f57/solved-outlook-2007-emails-stay-in-outbox-until-restart-588519.html
    No luck. Any other ideas?

  9. Brian

    I'm not sure what you mean by type of email account?

    It is a work email

  10. Brian

    Sorry I meant to put that reply here. Explain what you mean by type of email account I have configured. It's webmail if that helps any?

  11. Brad Bennett

    Hi Diane. I've appreciated your help and I'll definitely come back to you in the future! I finally made the connection that the problem was with a new email account I set up recently. l'm not exactly sure what the problem was, but after I went into Account Settings and deleted that email account my other accounts can send and email doesn't get lodged in my Outbox. That new account is with GoDaddy which came free with a domain name I purchased. I may not have set the email account up correctly in Outlook. Thanks again.

  12. Andy

    Would re-installing Outlook fix the problem? Also, If it's a PoP3 account, and I change it to IMAP would that work? I dont' see any read receipts on my content table either?
    Thank you for your help.

  13. Will

    Hi all,
    I had the same problems as some others on this board. POP3 email account stops working, I ran the fix suggested on this page (excellent writeup btw) but also had no messages. I finally traced it back to a problem with my ISP (Comcast). They have apparently blocked port 25 on the outgoing SMTP server. If you are using comast, check this first. There is a writeup on changing your outgoing server port here: http://forums.comcast.com/t5/E-Mail-and-Xfinity-Connect-Help/E-Mail-Client-Settings-customer-generated/td-p/778889

  14. Marc

    Diane thank you! Your directions to simply change the the outgoing server to use port 587 or 465 worked like a charm. I'm a Comcast user and changed mine to 587 (the first listed) and my three stuck emails departed. Thank you very much for the excellent guidance.

  15. Rob

    Thanks so much, my partners travel around so much and switch outgoing servers. One of them had 2 invisible outgoing messages always trying to send... and no way of finding out where they were. MFCMAPi did the trick...

  16. Teresa C.

    Hello, Thank you for posting this procedure.

    I'm having a problem. When I go to "Open Default Message Store" I get the following;

    Error: Store does not support the IExchangeManageStore interface
    Code: MAPI_E_INTERFACE_NOT_SUPPORTED == 0x80004002
    Function lpMDB->QueryInterface( IID_IExchangeManageStore, (void **) &lpIManageStore)
    File MAPIStoreFunctions.cpp
    Line 898

    Can you help me with this please?

  17. Reyeh

    Thank you. This problem was making me go crazy. When I walked through the steps for MFCMAPI, I tried and tried. Watched the video (thank you) and still nothing. I have multiple accounts under my Outlook and was only having problems with one address (all POP3). Realized I needed to make sure to CLOSE Outlook when using MFCMAPI to abort message prior to then selecting delete. Otherwise, nothing was deleting. Closed Outlook and like magic - back to normal and working perfectly. THANK YOU!

  18. Peter Storti

    This did not solve my problem. There were no stuck messages in the container. In my case New Messages don't send but Replies do. I have several e-mail accounts including an Exchange and SMTP. The SMTP is the default and I only log in to the Exchange through a VPN occasionally. Once an e-mail get stuck nothing sends. Any thoughts on what to try?

  19. Peter Storti

    No I am not getting any error messages when a message will not send. I am having what may be a related problem. There are times when I try to save a new contact (or similar task) and I get an error message that says I have to be connected to the Exchange server to perform the task. I should be able to save it locally and then sync with server later. This sounds like an address book service problem also. How do you debug the address book service?

  20. alix Marina-Chouhan

    HI, I tried outlookspy, and this is the third program I am trying I found the read receipts, but can't abort or delete them, I get Error:
    Code: MAPI_E_UNABLE_TO_ABORT == 0x80040114
    Function lpMDB->AbortSubmit( lpMessageEID->cb, (LPENTRYID)lpMessageEID->lpb, NULL)
    File FolderDlg.cpp
    Line 2084
    any idea what I could do? thank you!

  21. alix Marina-Chouhan

    my ntlworld account is good, I have another one for my website, where I have 5 stuck read receipts. they say Incomplete delete. The account itself comes out as false..

  22. alix Marina-Chouhan

    Hi when trying to delete I get this; Warning:
    Code: MAPI_W_PARTIAL_COMPLETION == 0x00040680
    Function ((LPMAPIFOLDER) m_lpContainer)->DeleteMessages( lpEIDs, lpProgress ? (ULONG_PTR)m_hWnd : NULL, lpProgress, ulFlag)
    File FolderDlg.cpp
    Line 691

  23. Sandra Rascheli

    I am going crazy with this, getting error
    Error: Store does not support the IExchangeManageStore interface
    Code: MAPI_E_INTERFACE_NOT_SUPPORTED == 0x80004002
    Function lpMDB->QueryInterface( IID_IExchangeManageStore, (void **) &lpIManageStore)
    File MAPIStoreFunctions.cpp
    Line 898
    I am using Outlook 2010, urgent help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!

  24. Sandra Rascheli

    It is a Hotmail account, it happened after I tried to send a large video file to a friend and I suppose her server didn't accept the message and it tried to send a read receipt. I hope this helps, I appreciate your help.

  25. Sandra Rascheli

    Hello again Diane, did what you said and deleted the hotmail ost file but the problem persists :-(
    Is there a way to completely uninstall Outlook and maybe install it again so that it takes everything fresh from the start? I don't know what else to try. I hope you have another solution, many thanks!

  26. alix Marina-Chouhan

    actually I got someone in and it turned out that although the programs said there were stuck read receipt, it was that the mail account was set up wrong, so just in case, verify that the addresses for smtp and pop are right..

  27. Sandra Rascheli

    Hi Diane, there are three other ost data files or email accounts. My hotmail is DEFAULT one, but I still cannot make this work out. Help pleaseeee...

  28. BB

    Hi,
    Great site thanks. I have the same problem as one above where there's nothing in the contents table. I did notice that on the first screen where you chose the data file, my 2 options are listed as 'Personal Folders' in the 'Provider' column. Can you help with this?
    Thanks!

  29. Marcello Antonucci

    YOU ROCK!

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