OUTLOOK.EXE continues running after you exit Outlook

Last reviewed on February 8, 2015   —  27 comments

Problem: After closing Outlook, it continues to run. Outlook can’t close properly if another application is accessing Outlook’s message store and you need open the Task Manager and End Process.

Symptoms which indicate that Outlook is not closing properly include receiving an alert telling you that Outlook is checking the data file when you open it. If you use two Outlook profiles, when you switch profiles you aren't presented the screen to select the profile and Outlook opens directly to the first profile. Outlook may close and only the splash screen loads when you restart it.

Task ManagerNot sure how to open task Manager? Right click on the Windows Task bar and choose Task Manager. Select the Processes tab and look for Outlook.exe in the Image Name column.

Office 2007 SP2 addresses the problem and forces Outlook to close. This should eliminate most of the problems with Outlook not closing and the need to check the *.pst file on the next start. Download it from The 2007 Microsoft Office Suite Service Pack 2 (SP2)

Below is a list of software known to cause problems in all versions of Outlook. This list is intended to give you an idea of what types of programs will cause Outlook to remain running, most often Fax software, anti-spam or anti-virus software, or PDA sync software. However, the culprit on your computer may be a different program.

See Disable Add-in or uninstall the software.

Add-ins | How to Disable Add-ins | Other Causes | Developer Information | Tools | More Information

Antivirus programs that support scanning email for viruses will tend to keep Outlook open. Disable email scanning and Outlook should close correctly. It’s perfectly safe to disable this setting – it gives you advanced warning of viruses but as long as you can control your urge to open every attachment you receive, you’ll be just as safe with it disabled. The antivirus programs that can affect Outlook include, but are not limited to, the following programs:

  • Kaspersky Antivirus Pro version 5
  • Panda AntiVirus Outlook Plug-In (pavexcli.dll)
  • Norton Antivirus with e-mail scanning and script blocking enabled.

Once you identify the program that is causing Outlook to remain loaded, check their support site for updates and additional information, or disable or uninstall the add-in.

Many spyware and adware programs hook into Outlook and other email clients. Removing them will usually correct the problem and allow Outlook to close properly.

Other user accounts

If you are trying to solve the problem of Outlook not loading, this story from administrator could point you in the right direction.

We installed Shoretel's Call Manager under the Administrator's account and later installed Office 2010 under the user's account. On other cases we had created a new user on the workstation and were attempting to run both apps under the new user's account.

When we removed Shoretel's Call Manager and reinstalled it under the account of the current user, the problem resolved and we could load and unload Outlook 2010 multiple times without any problem. In our environment Shoretel's Call Manager only reads Outlook's Contacts at startup to load it's own contact information. This should not effect one's ability to close and then reopen Outlook especially when everything works fine at first. Then when you add in the apparent sensitivity to having another app (Call Manger) installed under a different user account, it makes for a very bizarre scenario.

Add-ins which may keep Outlook open

The following is a short list of add-ins which are reported to keep Outlook running after it's closed.

  • Outlook Change Notifier – Apple iTunes addin for syncing with iPhones, iPods etc.
  • WinFax Pro. Disable WinFax or remove the WinFax Fax log from the profile. Remove them by opening Tools, Options, Mail Setup tab, Data Files and delete if present.
  • ActiveSync (especially when a PDA is cradled)
  • Blackberry software
  • Stamps.com (when using address from Outlook’s Contacts)
  • Outlook Express (when sharing Contacts with the Windows Address Book (WAB)
  • Franklin Covey Plan Plus
  • Mapilab’s Messenger Journal utility
  • Earthlink’s Spamblocker (the installation file is ELSBSetup.exe)
  • Outlook Attachment Sniffer
  • TechSmith’s SnagIt 7 with Outlook integration enabled.
  • Cloudmark Spamnet
  • OneNote 2003 (with Outlook 2000)
  • Fourelle Venturi Client
  • Internet Download Manager – uninstall
  • iProtectYou
  • TMAntispam – the antispam part of Trend Micro’s PCCillin Internet Security 2005 suite
  • Infuzer
  • FSecure 2005 antispam add-in
  • Prophet 2004 (by Avidian) – check for updates
  • Intuit Quickbooks
  • iTunes calendar sync add-in
  • iPhone Add-in
  • ABBYY FineReader 9.0
  • WMPNETWK or sharing files within MS media player 11

Disable Add-ins

Before uninstalling or disabling add-ins, check for an updated version. It may fix the problem.

In Outlook 2003 and earlier, add-ins are found on the Tools, Options, Other tab.

  1. Click the Advanced Options button.
  2. Click COM Add-ins button and uncheck add-ins to disable.
  3. While most add-ins are listed under COM add-ins, some may be in Add-in manager.
  4. Return to Outlook.

In Outlook 2007, you need to go to Tools, Trust Center, Add-ins.

  1. Select COM Add-ins from the dropdown at the bottom of the dialog
  2. Press Go.
  3. Uncheck the add-ins you suspect might be keeping Outlook open
  4. Close the dialog.

Most add-ins will be listed in COM Add-ins, but a few may be listed under Exchange Client Extensions, which on the dropdown with COM Add-ins.

Office 2007 SP2 addresses the problem and forces Outlook to close. his should eliminate most of the problem with Outlook not closing and the need to check the *.pst file on the next start. Download it from The 2007 Microsoft Office Suite Service Pack 2 (SP2)

Other Causes

Setting Outlook’s "Empty deleted items when closing" option can also cause Outlook to close slowly. Disable it on the Tools, Options, Other tab.

In sites where both Outlook 2000 and 2003 are in use, Outlook 2000 may not close properly due to conflicts between Outlook 2000 and 2003. This occurs when Outlook 2000 is used to open your mailbox after accessing it using Outlook 2003 or if another user viewed your shared Calendar with Outlook 2003. You can try opening Outlook 2000 using the /cleanfreebusy switch, but if that fails to correct the problem, you’ll need to call Microsoft for the hotfix in Outlook 2000 Post-Service Pack 3 Hotfix Package: January 13, 2004.

In addition, a corrupt *.SRS (send and receive profile file) appears to keep Outlook 2003 open. Find and rename the SRS for the profile. It’s a hidden file found at C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook. Use Windows Search to find the files (enable the advanced options to search all hidden files and folders) or paste this line into the Windows Explorer Address bar:

%USERPROFILE%\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

To learn more about the files contained in this directory, see Outlook Backup and Dual-Boot.

Tools

KnockOut

Free system tray application to monitor the state of Outlook (and Word) on your machine. Shows you when Outlook is running, even if you can't see any Outlook windows. Allows you to shut down Outlook or Word. Can turn off the "new mail" envelope icon. Very useful for developers.

Outlook Shutdown Addin

Outlook Shutdown Addin is a COM add-in which enables Outlook to shutdown completely when a user exits from the application, eliminating the need to open Task Manager to end OUTLOOK.EXE.

Developer Information

If you are a developer and your add-in is causing Outlook to remain open, get ItemsCB from the Resources page at www.microeye.com and use it to release all the Outlook objects and handle all errors.

If you need additional assistance, visit the forums at OutlookCode.com or the Outlook programming newsgroups at MSDN news://msnews.microsoft.com.

About Diane Poremsky

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 Outlook forums by Slipstick.com.

27 responses to “OUTLOOK.EXE continues running after you exit Outlook”

  1. Joe

    FUUUUCCCCCKKKKKK I can't even kill the Outlook.exe process! F*** MICROSOFT!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      It's not listed or it won't die?

  2. Howard

    Hi,
    I'm using Steller Phoenix Outlook PST Repair. It has scanned my pst file, but I can't save recovered file because the program says Outlook is open...it is not. I've looked on the taskbar and the taskmenu..nothing. Right click on the shortcut and OPEN is displayed. What's going on? Can't fix or open, not too happy.

  3. Jon

    FYI - For all who need to close Outlook without the task menu -> Open RUN -> type 'taskkill /im outlook.exe /f' -> Press ENTER

  4. spedgey

    Renaming the file C:Documents and SettingsusernameApplication DataMicrosoftOutlookOutlook.srs worked for me, it then recreated another Outlook.srs and the original remains, everything is fine, faster startup and close down...Many Thanks

  5. Richard McLaughlin

    I tried that. It didn't work for me fullstop! I did exactly what you suggested, renaming the Outlook.srs file. Everything right down to the absolute last detail. The process still remained in memory. In short; have you been drinking?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I haven't been drinking anything - there are several causes of Outlook not exiting and the srs file is just one cause. What addins do you have installed? Do you sync with a smartphone?

  6. Eric Shields

    Your solution worked-disabling Trend Micro's add-in allowed Outlook 2003 AND Merlin to close correctly. What a simple solution for a simple problem! Thanks for the heads-up.

  7. Wesley Hader

    Not good practice to disable your antivirus! Nor is it a solution! It is a workaround that leaves you more susceptible to attack!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Disabling Antivirus scanner add-ins in Outlook is quite safe. If you attempt to open an infected attachment, your antivirus will alert you at that time - scanning in outlook will catch it sooner but uses more resources and causes more problems. It's just not worth it. 9 times out of 10 even a "less sophisticated" user is going to look at a message and know its bad news.

      Client side antivirus scanning

  8. Karl

    Hi there
    I installed the outlook task and appt gadgets from:
    slipstick.com/outlook/using-windows-gadgets-with-outlook/
    I decided the same day that it wasn't what I wanted so removed them and deleted the donloaded gadget files.But since then, my outlook will not close. It just minimises to the icon tray but is still running in task manager. Any solutions on offer? Running windows 7 with outlook 2010.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You reversed the steps and deleted everything? How long ago did you do it? System restore may be any option, although there is really nothing that would cause problems, if you reversed the steps and deleted the gadget. It's possible an update was installed about the same time and caused problems - I know the June update for 2010 was buggy and they removed it.

  9. Don Rogers

    I discovered it was being caused by "Outlook Connector" A program which connected a hotmail account with outlook. I uninstalled that and it seems Outlook is closing fine now.

  10. rick

    Thanks! I unchecked Kaspersky box in an old version of Outlook (2003). Worked like a charm. I do wonder why the people at Kaspersky don't seem to know this solution.

  11. Dennis

    Hi there,

    I have an odd issue on my new profile I finally got set up. When I have to cancel a send/receive task since it hangs, this will stop from from send / receiving anymore. So, i have to close outlook. When I do, the process sticks around and I have to manually kill it. Is there a reason for this? New, clean profile I just built from scratch - and it took FOREVER to recreate!!!

    Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance,

    Dennis

    1. Diane Poremsky

      How many accounts are in your profile? It can take some time to cancel it if there are a lot of email accounts.

      Did you create custom send and receive groups? If not, I'd try deleting the .SRS file at %appdata%\microsoft\outlook (type paste it in the address bar of windows explorer and press enter). If you are using custom groups, rename it and see if the S/R cancels easier.

  12. Dennis

    Hi Diane,

    I have alot of accounts - about 15 or so. i do have custom send/receive groups, but they always run when Outlook starts - and that is the only time it hangs. I wish you could tell outlook to NOT run them at start up. I deleted the .SRS and will monitor to see how that goes after recreating them.

    Thanks for the help! Fingers crossed.

    Dennis

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Unfortunately, if you have an account doing an automatic check, it will check all accounts when outlook is first loaded. You definitely want to break the accounts into multiple send and receive groups with staggered automatic send and receive times - i recommend groups of about 3 -4 accounts (more is ok if they are pop3) with staggered send and receive times - using odd numbers so they are less likely to overlap. The most important accounts go in the first group, set to check every 5 or 7 minutes. If more than 2 accounts use the same server, try to put no more than 2 in the same group - some servers limit the number of threads a client can use and imap accounts use a lot of threads as each folder is checked.

  13. Dennis

    Thanks for the info - it seems deleting the SRS has worked. I do have multiple groups now, but the issue is always when Outlook first opens, never after that. I did think that it was trying to run through too many accounts too quickly, but there really is no way around that. Will continue to monitor. thanks again! Dennis

  14. Dennis

    Hi Diane,

    This issue seems to have come back and is even more prevalent now. I broke out my send receive groups, but Outlook hangs on random accounts for no specific reason. It's not the end of the world to close outlook, kill the task, and restart, but surely that is not a solution. Wish you could stop Outlook from doing the auto send/rec when you open up. Any additional ideas you have would be appreciated. thx! Dennis

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Does it work as expected if you run it in Safe mode?

  15. Dennis

    Hi Diane,

    I tried a few times in SAfe Mode and had no issues, but the issue does not happen all the time - it is very random. I might go a few days without the issue and then have it again. The only add ins I have are iCloud, CodeTwo for iCloud, and Avast. I do not think that iCloud or CodeTwo are the issue since I am pretty sure they do not care about incoming emails. I could TOTALLY see Avast being the issue though. Any thoughts? Know of Avast being a possible issue with Outlook 2013?

    Thanks again for all the help. You are a great person :)

    Dennis

    1. Diane Poremsky

      All of the antivirus/antispam/security scanners are know to cause issues for some people. disable the Avast addin and see if it works better.

  16. Dennis

    I would have already done that, but is it safe? I mean, viruses can surely come in via email.... scary. ;)

    1. Diane Poremsky

      It's safe. Outlook saves all attachments to the hard drive before opening, so the scanner picks it up them (assuming you didn't know it wasn't legit by looking at it) and Outlook won't run active content. The only thing you need to worry about is whether your virus definitions are up to date.

  17. Micro

    I never had a problem with Outlook 2003 until an "Important Update" on April 9th 2014 which is the day after support ended for the product. It is one thing to end support, it is another to sabotage my hold me hostage by sabotaging my purchase 10 years ago. Imagine your car being disabled on the day after the warranty ended intentionally by the manufacturer. I would go on, but I need to go because my ass still hurts.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Microsoft didn't do anything to intentionally disable it. What OS are you using? Was it an Office update or Windows update that 'broke' it?

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