Last reviewed on July 10, 2013   —  175 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

Common problems that cause email to stay in the Outbox
Delete Messages Stuck in Outlook 2011 Outbox
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.

Comments

    • Zahn says

      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

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Which method did you use to delete the stuck message? What happens when you try to open Outlook?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Are you using Outlook Express or Outlook? If Outlook, which version? I don't know if this method works with Outlook Express.

  1. Kirsten Young says

    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.....

  2. Martin says

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

  3. Janice Smith says

    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

  4. Marla says

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

  5. Courtney says

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

  6. jyeary3 says

    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!

  7. Jane says

    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.

  8. Frank Ellis says

    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.

  9. Elaine says

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

  10. Scott Ginn says

    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!!!

  11. Shiva says

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

  12. Von Domm says

    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!

  13. dwerth says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I like saving people money. :) Plus I'm sure ATT wouldn't know how to fix it. They'd pass you off to Microsoft.

  14. SUSAN says

    "...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!

  15. Meghann Kopecky says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      If you search for and deleted "Outlook" (instead of Outbox), you can restore it from the Windows Recycle Bin.

  16. Beth says

    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.

  17. Paty says

    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.

  18. Turiya says

    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

  19. Wendy says

    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.....

  20. Josie says

    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

  21. Scott L says

    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?

  22. Scott L says

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

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Is Outlook closed when you do this? Try the alternate method, set Outlook offline and wait a few minutes before trying to delete it from the outbox.

  23. massih says

    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

    • Diane Poremsky says

      No, Outlook will not eventually send it. Set Outlook offline, wait for outlook to close the connection - with a file that large, it may take 20 minutes or more. Then drag it from the outbox to the inbox or some other folder. It may be faster to set outlook offline, then close it - wait a few minutes and reopen it.

  24. Philip Soar says

    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????????????

    • Diane Poremsky says

      In the Start search field of Windows 7. If you don't use win7, you need to Work offline and wait a few minutes, then delete it.

  25. Skip Conner says

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

  26. TJAdams says

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

  27. Diane Hoult says

    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

  28. Tanya says

    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.

  29. Barry Dudley says

    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???

    • Diane Poremsky says

      When you need to reboot to restart Outlook, a utility is keeping Outlook open. Open Task Manager, look on the Processes tab. Find Outlook.exe and End task. With it out of your computer memory, see if the search method works better. If not, start Outlook in safe mode and set it offline.

      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.

  30. Ian Cheung says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Yeah, making a new profile is way overkill for this problem. Glad to have helped avoid a new profile.

  31. Kevin says

    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!

  32. Cat says

    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!

  33. scott says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Is a message stuck or are you getting an error message about a large message? What I'm seeing with users with Outlook 2013/IMAP is that it's not a stuck message, but a message on the IMAP server that won't sync down because its large. You need to find it on the server and move it into a folder that is not subscribed in outlook or delete it.

  34. Amilia says

    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.!

  35. Marnie says

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

  36. Toni says

    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.

  37. Toni says

    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.

  38. Deborah Bell says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      How large is the file? Did you receive any error messages when you tried to delete it?

  39. Deborah Bell says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      The one with Emailing: subject is what you need to delete. At 20 MB it can take a bit for it to be deleted - Disconnect the completer from the network, open Outlook then try deleting the message.

  40. Deborah Bell says

    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!

  41. Nicole says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You can safely delete the sync logs.

      If the messages were trying to send, it can take a few minutes for outlook to shut down, but if you closed outlook before searching, it should have been enough time to completely shut down.

  42. Nicole says

    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!!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      What type of email account do you use? IMAP accounts use the Outbox in the default data file. Disable the network card and wait for outlook to stop trying to send it - it can take a few minutes if the message is really, really big. Then it should open so you can remove images or delete. If you delete, i would use shift+delete to permanently delete it.

  43. Nicole says

    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!

  44. Nicole says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      This sounds like you are using the old pst format, not the new Unicode format. If outlook opens ok, empty the deleted items and junk folders and compact the pst. You can check the pst format in File, options, data files tab - select the pst and click Settings. If it just says outlook data file, its the new format. if it say outlook 97-2002, its the old format.

  45. Nicole says

    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?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Yeah, you can still compact. That was a weird error message as you don't have file size limitations.

  46. Jon Lemke says

    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

  47. A.Boulton says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Because the file is so large and outlook 2003's spooler is slow, I'd allow at least 30 min to an hour for it to release the message.

      It's too larger to open. Disconnect from the internet - you can disable the NIC to do this. Close Outlook, wait a few minutes then restart. Outlook should show as offline. - wait a bit longer then Shift+Delete the message.

  48. Jeff says

    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...

  49. Amit says

    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 :(

    • Diane Poremsky says

      This is with your hotmail account? Which version of Outlook and are you using the Outlook connector (or EAS if using Outlook 2013)?

  50. joe.mar says

    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

  51. Steve says

    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?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Will outlook start in safe mode? Hold ctrl as you click the shortcut to start it in safe mode.

  52. Ron Patten says

    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.

  53. Ron Patten says

    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!

  54. Kiki says

    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?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Go to Control panel, search for add remove programs. Select office, choose Change, then Repair. That should fix it.

  55. CM says

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

  56. Nitin Sharma says

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

  57. julie says

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

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It works the same way in all versions of Outlook and on all versions of Windows - go offline and wait. You can open Control panel, Networking and disable the NIC. Wait a few minutes then delete - for Outlook, you might need to wait longer, in the range of 1 minute per MB of stuck ,message size.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Is this a mac? Initiate a send and receive and open the Progress dialog. Click the little x at the right of the entry to stop the progress. The Outbox should now be visible in message list.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Go to the Folder list (Ctr+6) and look for it - it's either 4th folder from the top or in some random order in your folder list.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Can you see it in the outbox? Do you get any errors when you try to delete it? What type of email account do you have?

  58. Katrina says

    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.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      With a message that size, it may take a long time to delete or to go offline so you can try to delete it. Use Shift+Delete so it bypasses the deleted items folder or open it and delete the attachments from the message then save it. You could also use MFCMAPI to delete it - http://www.slipstick.com/how-to-outlook/delete-stuck-read-receipts/ has the basic steps, but you need to open the Deleted items folder in the information store.

  59. Deanna says

    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!

  60. Dawn says

    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

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It won't open even after rebooting? What antivirus do you use? Do you use Lync, sync utilities, or any other applications that access Outlook data? That is the usual cause of file in use error.

      Do you get the error if you try to open Outlook in 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.

  61. Binu says

    Ok...I tried as you said by typing in the search column... but i am unable to delete it...

    as i right click on the option, it shows only "OPEN" and no option for deleting the item.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Can you select it and delete it using the Delete key? If not, which version of Outlook and windows are you using?

  62. Gwyn says

    waiting long enough for the system to stop trying to transmit was key to success. Phew, thank you, quite simple really!!

  63. Kay says

    I tried to sent an email using Windows Live Mail (outlook Express), the attachments were too big to send.
    Live mail keeps trying to send them.

    I deleted them from my 'outbox'

    But now every time I shut down Live Mail, I get a error box say 'You have unsent mail - Do you want to send them Yes/No'

    Yet there appears there is nothing to send.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    • Kay says

      I have done it ..........EUREKA

      My 'OUTBOX' was hidden, but following the path from 'C' drive to 'OutBox' and there were the two items.

      Right.......time to make myself an 'idiots guide' in case it happens again. :o)

      Can I say a big 'thank you', because it was your site that enabled me to do what I did, without it I would still have been in the dark'

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