Last reviewed on February 9, 2015   —  52 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.


  1. Bernadette says

    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 says

    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?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      What type of email account? I'll also check it with the newest MFCMAPI - they made some changes to it in recent months.

  3. Charles Isaac says

    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 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

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Assuming you looked for stuck read receipts...
      What type of email account do you use?
      What antivirus do you use?
      Does it happen if you use Safe mode? To open Outlook in Safe mode: Close Outlook then hold Ctrl as you click on the Outlook icon. You'll get a message asking if you want to start in Safe mode. Click Ok.

  4. Brad Bennett says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      What type of email account do you have configured in Outlook? I'll have to look into it as there are too many recent reports of this problem and everyone says no read receipts are found. Something is definitely up.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Am I correct in assuming work email = Exchange server?
      The different types of accounts are POP3, Exchange, IMAP, Outlook Hotmail connector, or in using Outlook 2013, Active Sync (EAS)

  5. Brian says

    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?

  6. Brad Bennett says

    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.

  7. Andy says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It's unlikely to help - but you can try a repair if you want. Switching to imap will fix it only because it's a new data file. Because of the large number of people with problems, I need to look into other possible causes - something has definitely changed with this in recent weeks.

  8. Will says

    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:

  9. Marc says

    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.

  10. Rob says

    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...

  11. Teresa C. says

    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?

    • Sandra Rascheli says

      I have the same problem Diane, I get the same error message, I am using Outlook 2010. I need help, I've being having this problem for weeks now, going nuts!!!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      What type of email account do you have configured in Outlook? I'll try to repro the error using the same type of account.

  12. Reyeh says

    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!

  13. Peter Storti says

    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?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Do you get any error messages? When new mail won't send but replies work, it usually means the address book service is a problem.

  14. Peter Storti says

    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?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      That is an odd message, because you can only save to contacts folder. Are you using cached mode?

      The usual fix for address book service problems is to delete the profile and recreate it.

  15. alix Marina-Chouhan says

    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!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      What type of email account? Do you have stuck read receipts? Try closing Outlook and see if delete works.

  16. alix Marina-Chouhan says

    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..

  17. alix Marina-Chouhan says

    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

    • Diane Poremsky says

      One option (assuming its a pst file) is make a new pst and more the Outlook items manually or import the problem pst. The receipts won't import.

  18. Sandra Rascheli says

    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!!!

  19. Sandra Rascheli says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Are you using the Outlook Connector to sync Hotmail to Outlook? If so, just delete the hotmail ost file - it's in the local app data file - if you have Windows 7 or 8, close Outlook then type or paste this into the address bar of Windows Explorer to jump to the location and delete it. %localappdata%\microsoft\outlook Outlook will make a new data file and resync with the server.

  20. Sandra Rascheli says

    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!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      If you removed the ost file and outlook resynced the problem, it's something on the server or the problem is elsewhere.

      How many data files are in your profile? Which one is default?

    • Sandra Rascheli says

      There are 3 other data files and another data file is my default, it used to be Hotmail for default but I changed it to see if it helped erasing the read receipt, but no luck.

  21. alix Marina-Chouhan says

    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..

    • Diane Poremsky says

      That sounds more like it, especially for Hotmail/ accounts. Thanks for the update.

  22. Sandra Rascheli says

    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...

  23. BB says

    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?

  24. Neil says

    Absolutely excellent page!!! Fixed my problem easily with your clear and precise information.

    Awesome information. Thanks!!

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