Last reviewed on May 22, 2013   —  38 Comments

When you open attachments from the email message before saving to the hard drive, Outlook places copies in the SecureTemp folder. This folder is a hidden folder under Temporary Internet files.

Background: When you open attachments on email directly from Outlook, a copy is written to a temporary folder on your hard drive so your the virus scanner can check it before it is opened. The folder Outlook writes this temp file to is under the Temporary Internet Files folder where IE writes pages to when you surf the internet. This offers more security as only your user account and the computer administrator account can view the files under this folder. The only way to avoid “losing” attachments in this well hidden folder is to save them to your hard drive, before opening. Few people do this (myself included).

These files are supposed to be deleted when you close the opened attachment, however this only happens if the email message the attachment arrived on remains open – this is either an opened message in a new window or in the reading pane. When the message is closed (or you wait to preview another message) after the attachment is closed, the temporary file is deleted from the SecureTemp folder. If you close the open message or display another Outlook item in the reading pane but leave the attachment open, the temp file is not deleted when you close the attachment.

When this folder gets “full” you may have problems opening email attachments or embedded images won’t display. If you open image attachments in Windows Photo or Image viewer and click next, you may see old images you thought you deleted. Delete the files in the folder to fix. See clean the SecureTempFolder automatically for VBA code to clear the folder, either every time you close Outlook or only when you want to make sure the folder is empty.

SecureTemp Location for Outlook 2010 & 2013

Outlook 2010 does a better job at cleaning up the secure temp files and it’s possible you will not find the secure temp folder or files in the secure temp folder.

To quickly jump to the Temporary Internet Folder (TIF) in Windows 7 or Vista, type shell:cache in the Start menu’s Search field and press Enter. This will open Windows Explorer to the TIF file. Outlook’s securetemp folder should be visible (Content.Outlook or OLK*). If not, go to Windows Explorer’s Organize, Folder and Search Options menu. On the View tab, enable the option to show Hidden Files and Folders.

In Vista and Windows 7, Outlook 2010’s secure temp folder is at C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\8A0VMD3A, where 8A0VMD3A can be any random characters.

%localappdata%\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook

In Windows XP, its at C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\8A0VMD3A.

The shortcut for Outlook 2010 files on Windows XP is:

%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook

You can copy and paste the command found in the correct textbox (above) into the address bar of Windows Explorer then press Enter to jump to the SecureTemp folder, where you’ll see the subfolder with the random character name. Using this method does not require you to change the hidden files and folder setting.

Outlook 2007

Outlook 2007 uses
C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\ 8A0VMD3A, where 8A0VMD3A can be any random characters.

The shortcut for Outlook 2007 files on Windows XP is:

%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook

Vista and Windows 7 move the Temp Internet folder to
C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook

%localappdata%\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook

You can copy and paste the command found in the correct textbox (above) into the address bar of Windows Explorer then press Enter to jump to the SecureTemp folder, where you’ll see the subfolder with the random character name. Using this method does not require you to change the hidden files and folder setting.

Outlook 2000 – Outlook 2003

In Windows XP the folder for Outlook 2000 to 2003 is at
C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK*. The OLK directory will end in a series of numbers.

%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\

Vista and Windows 7 move the Temp Internet folder to
C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\OLK* folder.

%localappdata%\Temporary Internet Files\

You can copy and paste the command found in the correct textbox (above) into the address bar of Windows Explorer then press Enter to jump to the SecureTemp folder, where you’ll see the subfolder with the random character name. Using this method does not require you to change the hidden files and folder setting.

Find or move SecureTemp using the registry

The location of the Securetemp is stored in the registry and you can change the path to point to a new location (which is easier to access and clear), but be sure the new folder exists before changing it in the registry. The OutlookSecureTempFolder value is at the following key for your version of Outlook. If the path in the path in the registry is not valid, you will have red x’s for images.

Outlook 2013


Outlook 2010


Outlook 2007


Outlook 2003


Outlook 2002


Note: If the folder does not exist, the key will be reset to a new OLK* or Content.Outlook folder under Temporary Internet Files.


  1. kristine kim says

    hello - question: is the SecureTemp folder also used for attachment being sent? we're a windows 7/office 2010 32bit environment. i have a few users that are seeing the incorrect attachment being sent ... sometimes when that attachment is being copied from one email to the outgoing one, and sometimes when the file is being attached from a local location.

    i have one tech that believes it's a cache overflow issue

    i think part of this stems from people switching to rtf formatted emails and overflowing the clipboard.

    i've called MS and got the following info.

    Issue: Users are occasionally seening an attachment they placed in an email randomly switch when sent.

    My theory after I visited one user and had discussions with a number of others was that the problem had something to do with the clipboard, as at least one of the people copies and pastes attachments to and from emails all day, and the fact that they have changed their default message format to RTF from the HTML default.

    I called Microsoft to verify. The report from Microsoft is that Word 2010 has changed how copy and paste works and how they handle OLE objects which in turn causes issues with copy and pasting attachments. Word has a fix in SP1 that rectifies some issues seen with the clipboard. Within Outlook they have found that when embedded messages are manipulated using normal editing techniques (cut and paste), the attachment object data becomes jumbled. Opening different attachments leads to the same attachment being launched and/or data added to attachments does not appear correctly. In addition in RTF mail, if you save and cut and paste attachments, it is more likely Outlook will become confused and if you open the Attachment, another Attachment may open. All this is similar to what has been reported, but is not exactly the same issue.

    Microsoft has requested that we test installing SP1 on one of the affected users and monitor the results.

    i'm interested to know your opinion if you have time. thanks tons. -kk

  2. Miketraxs says

    If you want to clear the files everyday. You can setup a batch file with the following commands. Then set it in the all user startup so it runs for every user that logs into the pc. It will clear the folder everytime they login.

    ATTRIB "C:Users%username%AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesContent.Outlook*.*" -R /s

    del "C:Users%username%AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesContent.Outlook" /s /q

    The files in the folder below this are set with the read only attribute. You need to clear that attribute with the first command. Then you can delete everything in it with the second command.

  3. Haide says


    Okay so I opened my file through Yahoo email and accidently did not save it. I then, could not open the file i did not know that if i opened the file i would loose all the information. Is there any way I can still retrieve it or it is all gone? Please someone help me it is a Term paper that is due tomorrow and there is no way I could finish it in time.


    • Diane Poremsky says

      Are you using Outlook to read yahoo mail or did you use the browser to read it?

      It sounds like the file is corrupt, but I don't know if its corrupt on the computer side only. What anti virus software are you using? If you save the file to your desktop, how big is it? If it's large enough to contain data and is a docx file, you can at least get the text out of it. (It's harder to get text out of doc files.)

  4. Luis Mendez says

    Thank you big time for this helpful information. I've been looking for an easy way to explain to my Boss how to find the Content.Outlook folder without the Registry search.
    With the shell:cache search has been pretty easy to explain, in order to find the files that should be erased, and get Outlook going with the previews of images and such.
    And the Batch file will be installed as soon as possible!

    Thanks again for your help!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I like shell:cache because its easy to remember and type. :)

      Glad to have helped!

  5. Stuart Arnold says

    THANK YOU!!!! Finally...someone and something I could understand...and that worked! Please take the rest of the day off :-D

  6. Vijay says

    Hi, I was using webmail server to communicate for one month then i downloaded all the mails from server to my outlook account. But now by mistake i replaced the new outlook backup file with the old one. Now the problem is the new mails which have downloaded from server is not in the outlook mail inbox and also i checked in webmail server. There also mails are not present. So is there any way i can get back those mails downloaded from server. Because it contains more mails on projects. Please help me out!


    • Diane Poremsky says

      The the messages were deleted from the web server and you do not have a copy the pst you replaced, the only hope of recovering the email is with file recovery software, such as from

      If you have shadow copies enabled (Win7), you can try this: right click on the pst file and choose properties? Is there a tab for with information about older copies? If not, you'll need file recovery software. You need to attempt the recovery ASAP, before other files overwrite the space the old pst used on the hard drive.

  7. Devin says

    Thank you so much Diane Poremsky,

    I am a MSgt in the United States Air Force and this post helped recover some award package documents.

  8. Stefan says

    I don't know how to thank you! I was certain I saved the file correctly (as I did it more than once over the past few days I spent editing it and putting comments) and was entirely baffled when I couldn't see my changes (I actually saved it on the desktop but apparently made changes to the temporary file, and it beats me how that happened). Anyhow, your article helped, I opened the location %localappdata%\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook and in the only folder that was there I found my file with all the comments and changes I made to it.

  9. Meghan says

    I was hoping you help me out with something related to this. When I double-click a pdf in Outlook to view it, it opens Adobe Reader 11. When I go to save the document, it alway brings me to one of one these outlook temp folders, so then I have to navigate all the way back to the folder I want.

    On my old version of Reader, it would bring me back to where the folder where I last saved the file. My best guess is that Reader is still going back to the last save point, but because of these temporary files, it keeps thinking I want to save it there permentatly.

    Is there a way to stop Outlook from creating the temp files for pdf so it will stop asking me to save there?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Correct, reader is using the current file location. What version of Outlook do you use? I noticed the same behavior with some files recently - I'll pay more attention to it, I'm not sure if all attachments or just some are affected.

  10. Saara says

    Dear Diane,

    I have tried locating the Outlook temp folder on my Windows 7, and looked for the location from:

    Outlook 2010

    There is a problem here, as that location in my Registry editor does not have the \Security -option on that line. I have not been able to find out why, or where that information is stored, if not there. (The IT support at my work did not know either.)

    I also tried to access the temporary folder directly via:

    C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook

    ... but there does not seem to be a folder called ... \Content.Outlook

    What I do find is another hidden folder for temporary internet files:
    C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5

    So I would be tempted to think that there is also a folder for Outlook, but can it be called something else than \Content.Outlook?

    Thanks a million if you can help!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      in 2010 it's content.outlook, but windows does a really good job of hiding the folder. Have you opened attachments? Outlook doesn't create some keys until the feature is used or needs to be set.

  11. Judith says

    I am trying to resolve the problem that Outlook will not open jpg attachments sent from iPads or iPhones. I have navigated my way to OutlookSecureTempFolder and pasted the address into my Search where I find 429 items. Am I on the right track towards solving my problem? I have no idea which of these I should delete - I am technologically challenged I am afraid! Are they all unnecessary (as Temporary would suggest)? Sorry my enquiry is so basic, but I am trying!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You can delete everything in that folder - it's just a cache of attachments you've opened. Can you open other jpgs, just not the ones from apple?

  12. Judith says

    Trying to delete everything, but it tells me "Cannot delete file: Cannot read from the source file or disk"

    • Diane Poremsky says

      That usually either means the file is corrupt or it's in use. Do you get that message with every file or just some? You many need to open Windows Explorer using Run as administrator to delete them.

  13. Judith says

    I can delete a bundle at a time, but if I select all, I get an IE message "This page has an unspecified security risk. Would you like to continue?" before I get as far as trying to delete. This makes me nervous!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Is there an HTML page in the folder? It shouldn't matter, since you are deleting, not opening, but I'm guessing that is what is triggering the message.

  14. Judith says

    There seem to be two identical Chrome HTML pages, both from about two years ago. The only other oddity is a compressed (zipped) folder of photographs (12,233 KB). Should I delete those, or leave them where they are? But the good news is that I've deleted small bundles to reduce the content to about 1/3, and I can now open iPad jpgs!!! Thank you so much.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I'd delete them, or if you don't have copies of the photos, move the zip to my documents.

  15. Bruno V B says

    Diane, I just came here to say: THANK YOU. I was in mistake editing an email attachment and after 4 hours of work, I've deleted the attachment and replaced it by a local saved copy of the file, just to find out that I've lost 4 hours of work (which would take another 3-4 hours to redo).
    You saved my day! :)

    Thank you!

  16. Grant says

    We are trying to modify the OLK location in the registry for Outlook 2013 but every time we open an attachment, this key gets set back to the default location.
    We have made sure the folder location we are trying to set it to exists before changing the registry.
    Any ideas?

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Does the folder exist? Outlook 2013 is supposed to do a better job at cleaning up the temp files and when it does this, it deletes the folder and create a new one. I'm guessing this is what it is doing.

  17. Greg says

    Thank you, spent hours try to resolve permission error when opening an attachment in outlook and your shell:cache pointer did the trick in no time flat. Just wish I found your webpage first!

  18. Weal says

    Bless you. This (shell:cache) worked like a charm.

    I pasted the document in a meeting request and did not realise I was editing from it during the meeting until I saved and closed, then opened, only to see the original. I was livid, how do I remember all the inputs from each person!? I have been searching and surfing because I know the file must be saving somewhere since it was saving without asking me to save in a location (ie Save As). I was worried that since I had shut down my computer, it may not come again, but it did.

    Thank you again!

Leave a Reply

Please post long or more complicated questions at OutlookForums by

If the Post Comment button disappears, press your Tab key.