Do you still use Outlook Express?
If you do, stop right now (come back later and finish reading my articles) and compact your Outlook Express email folders.
Don’t get in trouble like so many OE users are doing. OE does fine for a long time, but eventually, if you don’t compact the folders, Outlook Express will not let you delete any emails.
When you select an email and click the Delete button in OE, or click the Delete key on your keyboard, all Outlook Express does is to mark the email in its files as "to be deleted the next time the files are compacted," and it stops displaying the email to you.
When you "empty" the Deleted Items folder, it does the same thing. The deleted emails are not actually removed from the file, just marked, and the files get bigger and bigger and bigger.
Compacting the email folders actually rewrites the folders (which are actually individual files) but skipping over the deleted emails.
All the email folders work this way, not just the Deleted Items folder, but also the Inbox and any other email folder(s) that you have set up. The Deleted Items folder always seems to have the problem before any other folder is affected.
Outlook Express is no different than any other PC-based (but not webmail like Gmail) email program in that regard. Whether you use OE, Eudora, Outlook, Thunderbird, or any other email program that runs on your computer, the programs simply mark a deleted email for actual deletion later (and stops showing that "deleted email" in its message lists). Then, later when you compact the folders, the program rewrites the folder file and skips over the deleted emails.
This week I heard from new subscriber Glen Parbery, who had apparently gotten some bad advice:
At 06:42 AM 9/2/2010, you wrote:
I just did a search for inbox.dbx, and deleted it. Outlook Express started up fine & I received new emails. Now I cannot delete messages from Outlook Express. Can you offer me any suggestions as to how to fix this problem?
I wrote back to Glen to say that I wasn’t sure why he deleted the Inbox.dbx file. The "Quick Fix" for being unable to delete is deleting Deleted Items.dbx, and I referred him to my article Outlook Express – Unable to Delete Email Messages. I also advised him that the long term fix is to remember to compact his email folders.
My ISP told me over the phone to find the file inbox.dbx & delete it. I did what they said – now I have this problem not being able to delete emails from any folder in outlook express.
He also advised that he still wasn’t able to delete any emails. At that point, I wrote him a step-by-step process that should solve his problem.
- First, open this article in your web browser http://www.terryscomputertips.com/computers/outlook-express-unable-to-delete-email-messages/
- Save it as a bookmark in IE, Firefox or Opera, or drag the little TCT icon from the address bar onto the desktop — that will make a shortcut on the desktop.
- Compact your Outlook Express folders. If you’re not sure how (failure to compact the OE folders is how most people get into this problem), see http://www.terryscomputertips.com/computers/deleting-an-email-completely/
- Exit outlook express
- Open the link from wherever you stored it. Read the article. Look at the last line, which links to the instructions for finding the Outlook Express files (or, you should be able to find them with a Search as long as you click the Show Hidden Files and Search in System Folders (or options named something like that).
- Find and delete the Deleted Items.dbx file
- Start Outlook Express.
Glen wrote back to report success!
I thank you for you assistance. This time I was able to follow your instructions to the letter & I can now delete messages from my Outlook Express inbox. The problem has been fixed!
I thank you again for your time and your patients with me Terry.