Outlook could not create the work file

Last reviewed on September 23, 2013

The “Outlook could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable.” error is more common after an upgrade of the operating system. It’s the result of a corrupted temporary internet cache variable, possibly caused by the upgrading the OS or using Easy Transfer to move settings to a new computer.

Fixing it is easy – you can either edit the registry to change the location of the Temporary Internet Files or make the change within Internet Options (Control panel).

If you don’t want to edit the registry, you can use the Mr. Fix it in You receive an “Error 1606″ error message when you try to install or remove a Microsoft program. Mr FixIt will reset all User Shell Folders values, including Cache.

Edit the Registry method:

At Start menu, Run (or Windows key + R) type

regedit

Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Explorer\User Shell Folders

The Cache variable (in the right pane of the register editor window) should be as follows:

Vista or Windows 7:

%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files

Windows XP:

%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files

Double click on the Cache name to open it then edit it, entering the correct path (as listed above).

Internet Options method

Open Control Panel, Internet Options or go to Internet Explorer’s Tools menu, Internet Options.

  1. Internet optionsIn the Internet Options dialog, click the General tab. In the Browsing history section click Settings to open the Temporary Internet Files and History Settings dialog.
  2. In the Temporary Internet Files and History Settings dialog, click Move Folder to open the Browse for Folder dialog.
  3. In the Browse for Folder dialog, select the correct location for your Temp folder.
  4. In Windows Vista, Windows 7/8, and Windows 2008 Server, look for the folder here: C:\Users\user name\AppData\Local\ Microsoft\Windows

    For Windows XP and prior versions of Windows: C:\Documents and Settings\user name\Local Settings

  5. Click OK to close the Browse for Folder dialog. Click OK to close the Temporary Internet Files and History Settings dialog. Click OK to close the Internet Options dialog.
  6. Wait for content to migrate to the new location.
  7. Reboot the computer when prompted.

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.

6 responses to “Outlook could not create the work file”

  1. Merel 469

    Neither of both solutions on that webpage worked here.
    After both methods were made there is still a LOOP of events when starting Office :

    1. Message : Please wait while Windows configures Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010
    2. The configuration takes some time
    3. Message : Teh configuration chages made to Microsoft Office Professional Plus will not take effect until your computer has been restarted. Would you like to restart now ?
    4. YES => Restarts
    5. Open Outlook2010
    6 Message: Previously not closed normally; Would you like to open Outlook in safe mode
    7. YES => Opens in safe mode
    8. Working in safe mode will still give error "cannot open workfile"
    9. Back to closing Outlook2010

  2. Merel 469

    MS Office Professional Plus 2010 (MSOPP2010) has been uninstalled and installad again.
    After all updates fot it were downloaded and re-installed again.

    MSOPP2010 has also been activated.

    I still have the error message " Outlook/Word cannot open the work file "

    Anyone with same software without problems ? Please give the Environment Variables you are using.
    I have changed them to what I believe to be the default values.

    This didn't work either after an attempt of both methods .
    http://www.slipstick.com/problems/outlook-could-not-create-the-work-file/

  3. Merel 469

    Thank you very much, Diane. Actually , I'm still using Windows XP Professional.
    My Office suite is "MS Office Professional Plus 2010 - Academic" which is the complete suite.
    Installation and activation didn't generate any warnings and were completed without problem.

    However I still can't use any module of the suite mainly because the major sticky issue the "work file".
    This issue seems to appear with any module of any version of MS-Office, and using any Windows version.

    I'm using now Open Office (and it works, without the annoyances of MSOPP2010). I paid for the MS product. Must I also pay more, just to receive some help getting this suite working properly ?
    I will have a look at your register key anyway (first renamed it to .txt file)
    It might help me to understand. But I can't use it for XP.
    Best regards

  4. Tim

    I recently got a virus, which I have since removed, but now I'm getting the error message when I open Word. I can type in it and all, but when I hit 'save' or 'save as' it does nothing.

    I've checked the registry and everything points to the right location. I've even deleted everything in there and still nothing. I have also tried creating a new folder and replacing the Temporary Internet Files folder, but it still doesn't work.

    Please help. Thanks.

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