Can Not Delete Emails in Outlook Express

 

Reader Jack W. wrote to ask about a problem he was having with Outlook Express:


Terry

Recently my delete feature in my e mail no longer works. This is somewhat of a problem but I have found a way around it. I move the mail to a folder I set up as Trash and the delete works there. I am using Outlook Express and so far I have not located any script that would render the delete button inoperative. A right click and delete does not work either.

I do have some degree of computer knowledge and have searched the mail program as well as the registry for a java script and have found none. I have run several AdAware, Housecall, Stinger and many other scans looking for this culprit. For a while I was able to reboot and the delete worked but now that does not do the job. I have ran a registry cleaner also to no avail.

Jack W.

Fortunately, the solution to this problem doesn’t require major surgery to Outlook Express or Windows. It’s also not a virus or malware problem, at least, probably not…

Outlook Express has a bug that’s related to file size of its data file. Once the file gets too big, you can no longer delete emails in the file.

The key word that I used is "in" — I didn’t use "from." Jack needed to compact (compress) his email folders in Outlook Express.

Outlook Express, like some other email programs, keeps most of the emails that it receives in one big file.

More importantly for this problem, when you "delete" an email, all you’re really doing is to mark the email as deleted.

The first time you delete a particular email, the email remains intact, but OE changes its location to the Deleted Items folder.

The second step is to delete the items from the Deleted Items folder. You might click on the Deleted Items folder and, then, highlight and delete the emails. Or, you could rightt-click on the Deleted Items folder in the Folders section in the left column of the OE window, and pick Empty ‘Deleted Items’ Folder.

But, neither of these does the final step. The email is still there.

The final step, which you ought to do at least every couple months, is to compress or compact the email folder. In Outlook Express, the process is easy — File > Folder > Compact All Folders.

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Comments

  1. Good information…thank you! I was having this problem and couldn’t figure out what had happened. I found another website with several suggestions…including editing the registry and deleting the Inbox folder from the registry, but I’m SO glad I didn’t have to do that!! I also appreciate how you explained the process of compacting. I always got irritated before when Outlook Express asked me if I wanted to compact. I didn’t realize it was to delete all the emails for good. Now I don’t mind quite so much :)

  2. I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM BUT. LAST TIME I FIXED IT BUY DELETING ALL MY DELETES MESSAGES . PROBLEM THIS TIME IS THAT WHEN I RELAIZED I COULD NOT DELTE AGAIN. WENT INTO MY DELETED ITEMS. THEY DISSAPPEARED. I RUN A BUSINESS FROM HOME SO THERE WAS ABOUT 5,000 ITEMS. WHERE DID THEY GO. I CANNOT FIX MY PROBEM

    • Terry Stockdale says:

      Susan,

      If these are business emails, or include business emails, I recommend that you take the computer to your local computer store — a real local computer store, not a big-box retailer — and see if they can recover your emails before they’re totally lost (if they aren’t already).

      Also, learn to use the shift key – don’t email or post in ALL CAPITALS. It’s rude.

      Terry

  3. Hi Terry – Once they’ve fixed their Deleted Emails problem, I’d recommend that they upgrade to the newer Windows Live Mail client for XP. It’s my understanding that it has fewer problems. It can be found here: http://explore.live.com/windows-live-mail-xp

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