OUTLOOK.EXE continues running after you exit Outlook

Last reviewed on February 10, 2013

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.



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.

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.

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