Red X's in Email Messages

Last reviewed on April 17, 2014

Applies to: Microsoft Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003

When pictures in your email won’t download, even though you have Outlook configured to download external content (or allow it on a per-message basis), the problem is usually a “full” temporary file folder. It can also be caused by a secure proxy server, an invalid Temp folder path, or a corrupt Temporary Internet File folder. If you do not see a red x but have a blank box shaped/sized like the graphic or photo, you have Show picture placeholders enabled.

There are two new causes for this problem, although I’m not sure how common these two causes are, especially in Outlook 2007 and 2010 because it’s only a problem when the default setting is changed.

  • Images are missing in online mode with Outlook 2013 / Exchange 2013
  • Image is not embedded in the message (affects Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013)

Corrupt Temporary Files Folder (TIF)

One cause of images not displaying in Outlook email is a corrupt Temporary Internet Files (TIF) folder (a second symptom is the TIF size is set to 0 in Internet Options). This seems to be more common after IE is installed. The solution is fairly simple: log out of your account and log in using another account that has administrator permissions, then delete the Temporary Internet Files folder. When you log back in using your own account, the folder will be recreated. If you don’t want to make an administrator account, use Lewis’s method (below) instead.

Deleting the TIF will also delete the securetemp folder (and temp folders used by Word and other applications).

To locate the TIF, open Windows Explorer and type shell:cache in the address bar, and then press Enter.

Note the path, C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files (the Temp Internet Files folder is named INetCache in Windows 8.1) then log out of your account and log in using an account with administrator permissions. Enable the Windows Explorer option to show hidden files and folders, then browse to the path used by your account. Right click on the Temporary Internet Files folder and choose Delete.

Delete the Temp Internet Folder in Windows 8

Lewis’ Method

Lewis used the following method:

I went into Internet Explorer “Internet Options” and under “Browsing History, clicked “Settings”. My “Disk Space To Use” was set at zero, and I couldn’t change it, but I saw a button that said “Move Folder”, so I thought “what the hell” and clicked it (then you have to reboot). Voila – I could increase the disk space, and my Outlook would let me download pictures and actually see them.

Before changing the path, click View Files to open Windows Explorer then copy the path from the address bar and save it. (This is a good use for Outlook’s Sticky notes, or you can create a new message, paste the path in it then save it as a draft.) Close all open programs then select a new path. (I used C:\Users\username.)

After you log back into your account (you don’t need to reboot, only log out then log back in), copy the old Temp Internet Files path from the draft email and paste into the address bar of Windows Explorer and press Enter. Select the folders and press Delete, skipping any that Windows says are in use. This deletes any old cache files created by other programs. The programs will use the new location.


Encrypted page setting

A few people mentioned that changing the setting for encrypted pages pages fixed the red x’s, including kausikdatta:

I finally hit upon the jackpot when I read somewhere that Outlook follows IE settings, even if IE is not the default browser (it’s not for my machine). I opened IE settings, and in the Advanced tab, unchecked the “Do not save encrypted pages to disk” option. Et voilà! I now see images in emails in my Outlook 2013!

I’m not sure why a home user would have Do not save encrypted pages to disk option enabled, it’s really not necessary. To check your settings, open Internet Options, Advanced tab. Do not save encrypted pages to disk is about 3/4 of the way down the list, near the bottom.

Do not save encrypted pages to disk

Images not embedded

In Outlook 2007 and 2010, inline images will display when using the default settings. In Outlook 2013, inline images may display the Red X when using the default setting.

Outlook 2010

You may see a red x if the image is not embedded in the message and the Send Pictures With Document registry value is set:

DWORD: Send Pictures With Document
Value: 0

Outlook 2007

You may see a red x if the image is not embedded in the message and the Send Pictures With Document registry value is set:

DWORD: Send Pictures With Document
Value: 0

To fix the problem in either Outlook 2010 or 2007, you need to remove the Send Pictures With Document registry value or change the value of Send Pictures With Document to 1.

Outlook 2013:

You may see a red x if the image is not embedded in the message, and the following registry value is NOT set, or is absent:

DWORD: Send Pictures With Document
Value: 1

To fix, you need to add Send Pictures With Document with a value of 1, or change the existing Send Pictures With Document value to 1.

SecureTemp folder

When the secure temp folder is the cause, the picture will show only the red x; it won’t include the text telling you to right click to download.

When the SecureTemp folder is full, the red x wont include text

What exactly does “full” mean? The determination of Full is based on several factors, the most important is no more than 99 attachments of the same name in the folder (filename format of file(99).ext). The total number of attachments in the SecureTemp does not seem to be a factor (at least not under my personal record of nearly 9,000.) The amount of space allotted to the Temp Internet Folder is a factor but I haven’t figured out the specifics.

Note: If you do not see a red x but have a blank box shaped/sized like the graphic or photo, you have Show picture placeholders enabled.

Check your SecureTemp folder

You need to locate the SecureTemp folder and delete the contents (or the entire folder) then restart Outlook. The images should display correctly once you do this.

Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013 on Windows 7/8, Vista:
* where 8A0VMD3A can be any random characters.

C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\8A0VMD3A

Outlook 2007 & Outlook 2010 on Windows XP:
* where 8A0VMD3A can be any random characters.

C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\8A0VMD3A

Outlook 2000 – 2003 on Windows 7/8 or Vista:
* The OLK directory will end in a series of numbers.

C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\OLK*

Outlook 2000 – 2003 on Windows XP:
* The OLK directory will end in a series of numbers.

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK*

To quickly jump to the Temporary Internet Folder (TIF) in Windows 7 or Vista, type shell:cache in the Start menu’s Search field and press Enter. This will open Windows Explorer to the TIF file. Outlook’s SecureTemp folder should be visible (Content.Outlook or OLK*). If not, go to Windows Explorer’s Organize, Folder and Search Options menu. On the View tab, enable the option to show Hidden Files and Folders.

See Outlook SecureTemp Files Folder to learn how it works and for the instructions to move the SecureTemp folder out of Temporary Internet Files.

The tools listed on this page make it easier to delete the orphaned attachments.

Verify the Temp path is correct in the registry

If the path in the path in the registry is not valid, you will have red x’s for images. Open the registry editor and verify the value in OutlookSecureTempFolder is correct and exists.

If you aren’t sure if the path is valid, right click on OutlookSecureTempFolder and Delete it, then restart Outlook. Outlook will recreate the value and a new SecureTemp folder.

The key in each version of Outlook is as follows:

Outlook 2013

Outlook 2010

Outlook 2007

Outlook 2003

Outlook 2002

Do it for me

Use the correct registry file for your version of Outlook to delete the OutlookSecureTempfolder key then restart Outlook.

Download the file, change the extension to .reg if your browser changed it to txt, then double click to run it and approve all of the prompts.

Outlook 2013Outlook 2010Outlook 20072003


Clear SecureTemp Folder automatically using VBA

A VBA sample you can use to delete the files in the SecureTemp folder each time you close Outlook or run it any time you want to delete the files.


OutlookTools is a support and advanced settings tool for Outlook. It gives you access to Outlook settings and data folders and allows you to change settings that are normally only possible through the registry.

Proxy Server Authentication

This issue affect users who access the Internet using a proxy server that is configured to use basic authentication.

When Outlook 2010 opens an HTML-formatted email message that contains an HTTP reference to an image that requires proxy authentication, Outlook won’t bring up the password dialog and the image won’t be displayed.

To address this, you need to set this registry key for Outlook 2010:
DWORD: AllowImageProxyAuth
Data value: 2

If you use Outlook 2007, you need to add AllowImageProxyAuth to this key:

When the value is set to 1, you’re prompted for authentication once per Outlook session. If you cancel the authentication request, you are not prompted again during that Outlook session.

When the value is set to 2, you’re prompted for authentication as needed. Typically, this is once per Outlook session. However, you may be prompted multiple times under certain circumstances. If you cancel the authentication request for one image, you’ll be prompted for the next image that requires proxy authentication.

If the key is missing or set to 0, you will not be prompted for authentication, and the image might not be displayed.

Do It For Me

Ready to run registry files are available for Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007. To use, download the correct registry file for your version of Outlook and double click on it to enter it into your registry.

AllowImageProxyAuth-2010 AllowImageProxyAuth-2007

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.

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