Outlook Cannot Create or Open Attachment

email attachmentEmail attachments must be sent, received, opened and closed on a daily basis. When a user cannot open an attachment you can be sure that an administrator is going to hear about it. Sometimes there are problems with saving attachments; other times the problems show up when a user attempts to open an attachment.

Some error messages are related to Outlook’s attachment security settings. Other times the error message might be a result of a suspected virus as reported by the user’s anti-virus software.

The most common error message displayed will be something like:

“Cannot create file: file name. Right-click the folder you want to create the file in and click Properties on the shortcut menu to check your permissions for the folder.”

This error message can be an indication of a lack of sufficient permissions of the Temporary Internet Files folder stored on a server. You can fix this problem by configuring Outlook to use a specific folder for temporary internet files.

If Outlook 2000 is being used then you’ll have to make changes to the Registry. As always, before making any edits to the Registry you should always make a backup. That way if any errors are made then you will have a good working backup point that you can restore to.

The change is fairly easy. Just go down to the lower left corner of the screen on most Windows systems and click on the Start button. Then locate the Run program and click again. In the Open text field type in the word “regedit” and hit enter or click OK. This will start the Registry Editor. Next, locate and click on the registry key:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\9.0\Outlook\Security\OutlookSecureTempFolder

Depending on your version of Outlook you may have to look under a different folder instead of the 9.0 subfolder. It might be under 11.0 or 10.0 – you will need to check this. Now if the registry key does not exist on the system then you will have to manually create it.

Your next step is to double-click on OutlookSecureTempFolder. Then in the Value Data field, type in the new directory name of an existing folder such as C:\newtemp\ and then hit the enter key or click OK. Lastly exit the Registry Editor and then restart the system. After restart, verify that you are able to open the attachment.

Another reason for being unable to open attachments can be caused by how temporary files are opened in Outlook. When an attachment is opened Outlook will save a copy of the attachment in a hidden Temporary Internet Files sub-folder. Outlook then appends the same file name with a sequence number. The problem occurs if Outlook tries to open a file more than ninety-nine times. Every time the file is opened the sequence number is incremented but after ninety-nine times it is no longer incremented. And this is where the error happens. The solution is to delete all files within that sub-folder.

The temp folder is created with a name that starts with the letters OLK and is followed by a random number. You will need to search for this folder under the local user’s profile path. If you try to locate this folder using Windows Explorer you will be unable to find it. Even if you have “show hidden folders” turned on it will not help because Windows Explorer prevents the folder from being seen. So what you will have to do is locate this folder manually.

You can start your manual search by clicking on the Start button, then on the Run program and then type in “CMD” in the Open field and hit enter or click OK. This will bring up an MS-DOS command prompt window. From here you’ll need to CD to the “Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files” folder. From inside this folder you can run the command “dir *.” and look for the directory (folder) that starts with OLK. You will need to delete all files in the “Temporary Internet Files” folder.

Now that you know the folder name you can go back into Windows Explorer and navigate to the parent directory and add the newly found folder name such as “OLK(somerandomnumber)”. Then from Windows Explorer you’ll be able to delete all the files inside the newly added directory. If you want to perform a manual delete then cd into that specific folder, OLK(somerandomnumber) and then run the command “del *.*” to delete all the files inside. Be absolutely certain you are in the OLK(somerandomnumber) folder before performing any deletes.

After deleting the files you can then restart Microsoft Outlook. After Outlook has restarted verify that you are able to open your attachment.

Written by Mike Rede

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