How to Delete Stuck Read Receipts

Last reviewed on May 22, 2013

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.

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