Delete large messages stuck in the Outbox

Last reviewed on July 10, 2013   —  169 comments

Applies to Microsoft Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003 and older

We’ve all done it once or twice — we have a message stuck in the Outbox because it’s too large for Outlook to send. Deleting it doesn’t work – Outlook returns an error because the message is already being transmitted.

Outlook has begun transmitting the message

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How to Delete Stuck Read Receipts

Use Desktop Search

If you use Windows 7, you can use the Start menu’s Search field to find and delete messages stuck in the Outbox. You need to close Outlook to delete the message.

In preliminary tests, it appears that this method might delete messages from a large pst file that errors when you try to delete the items from within Outlook.

To use this method, close Outlook then type outbox or store:mapi outbox in the Start search field. Wait for search to finish then find the message and delete. Messages deleted using this method bypass the Deleted Items folder and are permanently deleted.

Use the Search field to find stuck messages

Note: this method does not work on Windows 8.

Work Offline

You can delete the stuck message if you set Outlook offline using the File, Offline menu. Wait about five minutes or more for the mail spooler process to shut down or close Outlook and reopen. Go to the Outbox and delete the message then put Outlook back online using the File, Offline menu.

Work Offline button (set for Online)In Outlook 2010, Work Offline is on the Send & Receive ribbon.  The screenshot shows the default setting of On. When Outlook is Offline, the button is highlighted in orange.

If your version of Outlook doesn’t include a Work Offline command, disconnect from the Internet or disable the network card in the Control Panel, Network. Wait a few minutes, longer if the stuck message is really large, then delete it.

This is one time when patience is a definite virtue – make sure you give Outlook plenty of time to stop processing the message before trying to delete it. A very large message may require longer than 5 minutes to stop processing.

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.

169 responses to “Delete large messages stuck in the Outbox”

  1. Lilit

    Thank you . the first suggestion works!!

    1. Zahn

      THANKS the 'work offline' suggestion worked. I, like the other prson, am soooo happy to not see that message there. It has been there for about a month. Again, thanks

  2. Roberta

    Thank you so much--Search method worked like a charm and now I dont have that annoying message stuck there!!

  3. wayne

    OK, I deleted the message stuck in the outbox, but now I can't bring up my Outlook. What do I do to get it back?

  4. Kirsten Young

    I used the first method, "Use Desktop Search" and it worked quickly. I have been trying to delete the large message for days. Thank you........thank you.....

  5. Marg

    I used the Desktop search, and it work great. Thank you so much.

  6. judy

    The first suggestion worked perfectly! Thanks!!!

  7. jenny

    first method worked! thanks!!

  8. Douglas

    Set to work off line, shut down outlook then delete file worked great

    Thanks

  9. paul

    nice one, thx!!

  10. Martin

    Thanks, only the "Work Offline" step worked for me, the message was 18mb and I only managed to delete it after about 15 minutes.

  11. Bruce Johnson

    The work offline method worked for me thanks

  12. Laura Nelson

    Your first suggestion worked like a charm on the first try. Thank you so much!

  13. Janice Smith

    Trying to use the desktop search method. When I find the message and click on it, I don't have the option to delete. If I left click, it goes away. If I right click, it says "open", and when I click on open, it goes away. How do I delete the stuck message once I locate it with this method?
    Thank you

  14. Marla

    Thank-you. The search method worked perfectly for me - took only a couple of seconds to delete out a 51mb email.

  15. Courtney

    Thank You! Second method worked like a charm. That message has been sitting in there for days and slowing down my other outbox messages!!!

  16. Patricia

    Thank-you so very much. I tried the desktop search, worked! Been sitting there for 3 days.

  17. K Houpapa

    Thank you all

  18. Austin

    Shut down Outlook and took the desktop approach. Worked like a charm. Thanks!

  19. jyeary3

    Totally worked for me. I tried and failed several times to delete while in my inbox. Searched for ways to delete a mega file that would not transmit, this solution worked for me in about 60 seconds. THANKS!

  20. Anthony

    Worked perfectly! THANK YOU!

  21. Jane

    Tried option 1, and mine too says open only......and cant delete.........and now cant open outlook at all ..............PLEASE HELP, MY BOSS WILL KILL ME .......well not literally ......but you get the idea.

  22. Donna Fulton

    Thanks!

  23. Frank Ellis

    Method 2 worked for me. Got impatient waiting for Outlook to quit trying to send the 88 Mb message so I clicked on the notice at the bottom of the screen "Sending message 1 of 1" and got the option to cancel the send. Then deleted the message in Outlook. Thanks so much for your help.

  24. Elaine

    First method worked perfectly - searched outbox from start up selected email opened it and deleted - easy! Thanks

  25. Scott Ginn

    WOW, that worked great. Just typed in store:mapi outbox in the search box and boom it was there and then it was gone. Wonderful. Thanks so much for the secret!!!

  26. Ray Sersen

    THANSK! You saved my day.

  27. JAck Bramah

    Second method worked for me. Tried the first one, but the Search couldn't find outbox anywhere

  28. Shiva

    Second method works perfectly for me. Put outlook offline then delete the message in the outbox.
    Great!!!!
    Thanks very much

  29. Tim Smythe

    Thank you so much - the solution worked perfectly.

  30. Von Domm

    The second method worked for me. After putting outlook offline then closing and reopening outlook to delete saved a lot of time verses waiting for my Huge file to stop processing. And the best thing is when I put outlook back online and everthing again worked as it should.
    Thanks you!

  31. Steve

    Worked perfectly - thank you !!!

  32. amr

    u r genius thank yooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooou

  33. dwerth

    Used the first procedure and gave it about ten minutes and went to outbox and pressed delete for each of the two .tif pictures and worked like a charm....saved us $49 ATT wanted to rape us.

  34. Nancy Lake

    Awesome ! Thanks so much worked beautifully by setting offline and waiting a few minutes!

  35. Bill

    Going offline, shutting down Outlook and restarting and was able to delete immediately. Thanks!

  36. SUSAN

    "...clicked on the notice at the bottom of the screen "Sending message 1 of 1" and got the option to cancel or send" is the one that worked for me! THANKS!

  37. deborah

    Help! I used the Search method to delete the stuck file, but now I cannot open Outlook!

  38. Greg

    thanks....the desktop option worked just great .....thanks again for the tip

  39. Meghann Kopecky

    Hi Diane,
    I just tried this message today and see that other folks have the same issues...My outlook no longer opens. I checked in programs and it doesn't exist in programs either anymore. I didn't get a "do you want to delete this program?" I just got "do you want to delete this message?" I clicked yes and now outlook is no longer on my system? Please advise.

  40. Eldred James

    I used the work offline method and it worked beautifully. Thank you so much!

  41. Beth

    Thank you. 2nd method worked for me after having the problem mentioned above; found the file using the first method and only had the option to 'open' then outlook wouldn't for. Did a shut down and restart then used the 2nd method. Outlook running as normal again.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  42. ratna

    wow.. I used the first method and it work! thank you so much!

  43. Cassie

    Search method worked, thanks!!

  44. Patrick

    Search method worked for me too. Thanks.

  45. dnala

    Thank you very much for help. It was easy to do.
    Search method worked perfect.

  46. Tim

    Thank you! The "search" method worked

  47. Gloria

    Thank you so much.

  48. Jen

    Thank you - this worked great!!

  49. Paty

    I don't see the emails that are being sent. It says sending message 3 of 3 but all I can find is one message (a test one) I have tried both methods above. I can not find the two other messages anywhere. I've tried doing cancel all while they are being sent and that does not help either.

  50. Turiya

    Dear Diane, THANK YOU. You saved my life :-). Unfortunateyl I could not delete 62 Mb file with none of your methods. However, I used second method to deactivate Outlook and then searched in Windows Explorer to find the large file by name. Deleteting in Explorer was easy - no need to wait until Outlook stops processing the file. Have a nice day, Turiya

  51. Wendy

    Oh my ! THANK YOU SO MUCH I had a very large photo file stuck for a week ! And after 100.00 at computer shop I came home with email still stuck,grrrrrrrrrrrr,so I was determined to fix it myself.....

  52. Ed in Orlando

    First method worked. Thanks!

  53. Fran

    awesome - thank you :)

  54. Josie

    I have been trying for 7 days to get rid of a PDf file stuck in my outbox, until today! and finally this solution worked a treat ,Thank you so much

  55. chris

    search through windows for email and deleted! thank you very much

  56. Odalis Padron

    THANK YOU..... The Work Offline worked!

  57. Scott L

    Diane, Thank you for your wisdom. Using the "outbox" search I get 1 file showing in the Outlook outbox. It is a Word doc of only a small size. However, like some of the other readers, this file only offers "open" as an option on 'right-click'. Any other thoughts on how it can be deleted?

  58. Scott L

    Diane, sorry. Before I waste your time I did select the file and hit 'delete' but nothing happened. Still there.

  59. Scott L

    Also, if I select "open" from 'right-click' nothing happens.

  60. beverlym

    Thank you thank you thank you! This was driving me nuts!!!

  61. Khan

    thanks a lot, it really helped me.

  62. massih

    A/ how can i take the stuck message out of the outbox and put it in my inbox without deleting it?
    B/ if i wait long enough would the message be eventually sent? my message is 136GB

  63. Vicki

    Thank you so much!

  64. Philip Soar

    Im sorry - i dont understand this. If one closes OUTLOOK, then where does one type "outbox" - OUTLOOK is closed, so it cannot be in OUTLOOK????????????

  65. Skip Conner

    Did you ever get an answer? The sam thing happen to me. The Delete key on the keyboard did nothing.

  66. cate

    second suggestion worked great, thank you so much!

  67. Dennis Doherty

    Worked perfectly on Win7 and Outlook 2003. Thanks!

  68. Bomi

    It worked, thank you

  69. Bomi

    I used the "work offline" method and it worked like a charm

  70. yasna

    Work offline, works! Thank you!
    yasna

  71. TJAdams

    Diane,
    Nothing works. I shut Outlook 2007 down and after 30 minutes it's still searching for the store:mapi file with no results.

  72. Diane Hoult

    Thank you so much. I spent ages trying to get in and delete it before it tried to send it but it never worked. Your suggestion of changing to Work Offline, giving it some time (and then I shut it down and came back up again) and I was finally able to delete the file. The worst thing was that the person it was trying to send it to kept getting incomplete messages about it so they were flooded with incomplete messages.
    thanks again!
    Diane

  73. Tanya

    Thank you!!! 2 messages have been stuck for days. I have a mac and had to disconnect from the internet then reopen outlook in order to see a "outbox" tab to delete the messages.

  74. Barry Dudley

    I tired the "search method" with Outlook 7 closed, When I hit enter the screen flashes for a split second and then nothing??? If I try the "offline" method when I close Outlook I cannot reopen it with oout restarting the computer???

  75. Ian Cheung

    Hello there, I used the Off-line method and it worked! Many thanks, you don't know how long this email has been sitting there. Many thanks!!!!

    A previous suggestion was to change my profile and start everything over. No thanks.

  76. Emeka

    Thanks!

  77. Eileen

    The offline method worked fine for me...had been stuck for 2 weeks or more. Thanks for the help.

  78. maddy

    Thank you! I hope you find a $50.00 bill in your pant pockets soon! :)

  79. Kevin

    I'm trying method 2 and outlook still freezes and become non responsive. I am on XP. I am working offline and in safemode. When I click on outbox, the email is there. When I try to delete it, outlook freezes. I've tried using the delete button, I've tried dragging it to the deleted folder, and I've tried opening the email and deleting it from the "FILE" drop down menu. Getting nowhere. Help please!

  80. doc

    thanks, working offline method is works out perfectly.

  81. Cat

    I used the first method and it disappeared but once I opened Outlook, it was back!! So I tried the second method, and it worked!! I put it on offline mode, shut off outlook, reopened it, and deleted it! I was dumb to try to email photos of 130 MB and it was stuck in my outbox for a week and slowing down my incoming/outgoing mail!!

    Thank you for the genius advice!

  82. kuldeep gairola

    I used the first method,that's gr8.Thanx

  83. scott

    Hi Diane:

    Thanks for sharing this. You have certainly helped a lot of people. I am running Outlook 2013 on Windows 8 - and I'm getting the message. I have 4 IMAP accounts in addition to the one that I used to set up outlook originally. No emails show up in the outbox for any of these accounts. How do I find the email so I can get rid of it? Thank you for any help you may be able to give me.

  84. Kathleen

    Thank you! The work offline method worked in Windows 8 Outlook 2010!

  85. Amilia

    Thank you so much. It works. Now we don't have to get our outsource IT technician to come to the office just to delete this annoying stuck message in our outbox anymore. Thanks again! Appreciate your assistance.!

  86. vasantha

    hey thaaaaaaannnnnnnnkkkkkkkkkkkk uuuuuuuuuu sooooooo much

  87. ledhani

    Great, god bless you

  88. sheila

    Absolutely worked when I typed outbox in the search box. Found it, deleted it, life is good! Thank you!!!

  89. Marnie

    Thank you so much switching to offline worked like a charm! Unfortunately not before the recipient got about 30 copies of it. Oops!

  90. Diana

    This is awesome, worked perfect! Thank you!!

  91. Toni

    I cannot get back into Outlook. I don't know whether the large file was deleted or not. How do I get back into Outlook to find out. I clicked on work offline. Now I cannot get back into find out what happened. Please Help.

  92. Toni

    Patience is a virtue. I too had a huge message stuck in my outbox in Outlook. While I was going crazy about not getting back into Outlook to see if the message was deleted, it was being deleted. Outlook wasn't letting me back in because it was doing its thing to delete the message. Thank you Lord! Praise your Holy Name. Just be patient and wait and it will happen! Thanks to all who made comments about their similar situations.

  93. Deborah Bell

    I tried both methods. I was unable to delete the file either way. At this point, the file is still there. I cannot delete it. I can open Outlook, but when I hit Send/Receive, it doesn't do anything - neither send or receive. No error message. No response whatsoever. I use Outlook 2010. I have done all of the updates for the program. Not sure what to try next.

  94. Deborah Bell

    It is 20 MB. No error messages. When I do the search for the outbox, it finds two files: the 20MB pdf (***.pdf) and the outlook file that says Emailing: ***.pdf . I can delete the outlook file (shown with an envelope), but the other file (shown with the PDF symbol) does not give me the option to delete. If I right click, it just says "open". If I just highlight and hit the delete button nothing happens. The Emailing: ***.pdf file/link always reappears after deleting as well. Within Outlook itself, nothing happens when I try to delete it - no error message, no response whatsoever. I have tried working offline, I have tried turning off my internet altogether. I have tried opening it in Safe mode. I can do nothing. I am not receiving any emails either because the send/receive button still does nothing. I tried repairing my pst file as well and that seems to have no effect.

  95. Deborah Bell

    Nothing worked. I disconnected from the Internet and tried deleting the message. Waited 1 hour. Nothing. Searched on the Outbox, tried deleting the message there. Waited an hour. Nothing. We eventually had to create a new user account and profile and completely reload MS Office. Even repairing and eventually uninstalling and reinstalling Outlook did not allow us to send or receive any emails. Somehow my profile was completely corrupted. But, even with it gone (and thus the bad file gone), Outlook would not work. I appreciate your help and hope it works next time I have a similar problem, but something went very badly wrong this time. Thanks for trying!

  96. Nicole

    Hi, I've read through the comments and see some similar problems but I seem to have a combination of these issues. The initial email that I sent had the error: file too large message, as I had attached too many photos to the email.

    First Method: When I searched store:mapi outbox the messages did come up, but I am having that same issue of not being able to delete them (using the delete key, or right click - when I right click only 'open' comes up). I also tried dragging the files into recycling or even into a separate folder on my desktop and they will not allow me to move them.

    One thing I did notice about this is that in this search folder, the ones that come up that won't allow me to delete them have microsoft word or excel icons associated with them (with small envelopes in the corner of the icon). Other emails that only have the large 'envelope' icon will delete. However the files that I need to delete are the ones with the microsoft office icons unfortunately. I did have my outlook both offline and closed when I tried this. Also, more pale versions of the large envelope icon show up with many items in my store:mapi outbox search, and are titled my name and then 'Syncronization Log'. Is it ok to delete these? I don't want to mess anything up since I'm not sure what these are.

  97. Nicole

    Second Method: The issue here is that my outlook (2010) does not have an 'outbox' folder but a 'sent' folder. In this folder only emails that have been processed appear. So the emails that are stuck do not appear here, and I am not sure where to find them in my outlook. So when I try going offline, nothing changes for me as the emails are still nowhere to be found and I cannot delete them if I can't find them :(!

    I have seen people that suggest clicking on the error message and canceling the email, however I now have recent emails stuck with it (The initial stuck message is from months ago) and I do not want to 'cancel all' which is the only option available.

    Thank you!!

  98. Nicole

    I think I figured out why those files with the Microsoft Office icons would not delete, and this might help with other people that had that issue. Those files are the attachments from the email, and show up as separate files in the outbox when you search Windows.

    When I found the parent email and deleted it all of the attachments disappeared from the list after ~15 seconds!

    Thanks I will delete the sync logs!

  99. Nicole

    There are still however 2 attachments (1 excel and 1 word) left in my outbox when I search store:mapi outbox in Windows, and they do not have parent emails to delete so they are stuck. This still seems to be affecting my sending new emails, as when I try to send new ones it says 'error: message store has reached its maximum size'. This is odd because the original large email that caused the error in the first place was from months ago, and this has never happened before - and now I also have cleared many files except for the 2 attachments that are stuck out of the outbox.. so I'm not sure why it would still be considered full.

  100. Nicole

    It says 'Outlook is running in Unicode mode against Microsoft Exchange' and below 'Outlook Data File Settings', it doesn't say 97-2002 anywhere, should I still compact?

  101. Dilroop

    Thank you sooo muchhhhhhhh

  102. Jon Lemke

    Nice! Someone should send this to Microsoft. I spent 2 hours on remote with them trying to solve this and then 3 hours with my ISP. I used the offline method and it worked. Thanks

  103. A.Boulton

    Hi there, Using Win 7 Home and Outlook 2003. 74MB file stuck in Outbox.
    - Offline doesn't work even after waiting 20 minutes.
    - I get "no results" with the search function for outbox or mapi...
    - cannot drag and drop either
    When I try to open the message, i get the error "Sorry, we're having trouble opening this item. This could be temporary, but if you see it again you might want to restart Outlook" I also see the message that tells me that I'm trying to delete over 4000 messages!
    - IMAP/SMTP account
    Ideas?
    Thank you in advance.

  104. Jeff

    What about a perpetual message in Outlook 2011 for MAC. This has happened to me several times...once before I was able to "catch" the Outbox (which does not always appear until Outlook has tried to send the message ~50+ times), and delete the large message. The time before last, I had already deleted the message in the outbox, but I kept getting the error...I created another large message to try to get the Outbox to show up again, and then deleted it...this fixed the issue. Now I have the error again and I tried the aforementioned trick, but I am still getting the error. Sometime, my Outlook is so slow it is not worth using...

  105. Amit

    I keep loosing my wifi connection while trying to send any email larger than 2mb & then the mails get stuck.. Am able to delete them alright but hv to try using an alternative ISP connection to send the email for e.g instead of my office wifi switch to my phones hotspot :(

  106. joe.mar

    Thank you Diane, I just had the same problem with my "Outbox" file stuck. I tried your sugestion of Search and it worked. It was getting to be very annoying having the error message every time I send a message. Again, Thanks

  107. Amit

    Nah, this is my a/c set up on outlook 2010. It's an account hosted on my own domain - http://www.1801display.com

  108. Steve

    I clicked on the email and the window closed and now I cannot get outlook to start. I used method one. I did not left click and hit the delete button. Outlook will not come up now. how do I get outlook back?

  109. Jaime Paredes

    Worked very well. Thanks!

  110. Jeff Wolff

    Thanks so much. Worked perfectly.

  111. Ron Patten

    Thanks for the help! I've been trying to get this large e-mail deleted for weeks! I feel lucky that I came across your help page. I'm going to see if you have a book for Outlook 2010.

  112. Ron Patten

    Darn!! Do you have any suggestions? I'm a one man small business and use Microsoft Office because I have to. I have enough problems keeping up with the graphic programs that I use, there must be an easier way!

  113. Ron Patten

    Thanks!!

  114. Kiki

    Unfortunately, I used the search code but inserted Outlook instead of Outbox. Then after deleting, I couldn't open Outlook and it was not in the Recycle Bin. Next, I tried to open in safe mode with CTRL/Outlook shortcut and nothing happened. Any ideas as to what to do next?

  115. Kiki

    That solved the problem. I have been holding my breath on this one, so thank you for solving it so quickly!!

  116. Bill Cohagan

    Thanks so much. Going offline worked for me.

  117. Keisha

    How do you find the parent email. My outbox is empty and my delete folder is empty also

  118. CM

    Closing Outlook, searching from Start Menu, selecting and deleting works perfectly on Windows 7. Thank you very much. CM

  119. Nitin Sharma

    it is really helpful in deleting the struck email in outlook...I thank you for suggesting me the way to do it...

  120. victor

    Thank you so much......I worked Well

  121. Olga

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! FIRST METHOD WORKED FOR ME.

  122. julie

    Thank you so much! Worked for me first time but you're right .... be very patient and it will happen!

  123. Carly

    I have the same problem however I am using windows 8, how can I get rid of the email?
    Thanks

  124. Sammy Cheung

    What if I can't even locate the Outbox in the folder list?
    Thanks

  125. Sammy

    It's Window 8, thanks

  126. Dmunoz

    I've tried both methods, no luck. The stuck email has been stuck for 2 years and driving me crazy.

  127. Katrina

    My email of 756MB's has been stuck for a month now. This may be the reason my out-going mail is slower than normal. Walked through the task instructed but it's not moving anywhere. I've googled every possible site to see if there's another way. I suppose it's going to require someone more savvy than myself.

  128. Deanna

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!! You are an angel! I am so glad that I found this page and I have now deleted a large email from the Outbox!

  129. Dawn

    I tried the second method and it seemed to work so many thanks. My problem now is that outlook will not open. The message is that the file is in use and cannot be opened. I rebooted machine and looked at processes in task master and cannot see Outlook processing? Can you please help

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