Can’t open or save an attachment in Outlook 2003?

Client of mine uses the Fax Server in Small Business Server 2003 and has all faxes come into a “fax” user account.  One of the users today was telling me how she was unable to open any of the FAX.TIF attachments anymore and has had other co-workers save them as PDF files and send them to her.  Thanks to Live Search… yes, I launched Live Search, not Google, and actually found the answer, can you believe it?  Miracles never cease!  😉  Before I was side tracked there by that bit of trivia, I was saying that Live Search pointed me over to the TechNet Forums, yet another amazement for me since I hang out in the newsgroups much more than MS Web forums, well at least up until now.

Check out the thread at and you’ll have the answer if you have been reveiving an error along the lines of:

“Can’t create file: Right-click the folder you want to create the file in, and then click Properties on the shortcut menu to check your permissions for the folder”.

The error I was getting today was “Can’t create file: FAX.TIF. Right-click the folder you want to create the file in, and then click Properties on the shortcut menu to check your permissions for the folder”.  The forum post is dealing with PDF files so it looks like anything could be an issue.  The fax.tif is interesting because this office has used the fax server with email since SBS 2000 and I have never ran across one of the users getting this error.

Here is the answer in case the forum disapears on us (not sure of what the retention rate of the MS forums are or will be – I’ll ask around.  In the meantime:

 24 Apr 2007, 1:16 PM UTC


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Answer Re: Can’t open or save a pdf attachment in outlook 2003
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Similar to the previous post, I resolved by doing the following:

    1. Open REGEDIT.EXE and go to Edit -> Find… In the Find dialog box type “OutlookSecureTempFolder” without the quotes and locate that registry key.

    2. That key will contain the actual folder location, and will look like:

       C:\Documents and Settings\%USER_NAME%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK#\ (where # is a random letter or number)

    3. Copy the location of that folder.

    4. Click on Start -> Run… and paste the folder location from step #4 then click OK.

    5. Windows Explorer will open that folder. Please, delete all files present.

    6. Restart Microsoft Outlook and you should be able to open your attachments.












What’s even cooler, is that “Netfelix” created a batch file to remove the temp files from user’s profiles who are running into this a lot.  Below is what he posted: I’ve created a batchfile for my users that have run into this problem

del “c:\documents and settings\%username%\local settings\temporary internet files\(OLK folder name)\*.pdf” The OLK foldername can be found in the registry, as stated before, by searching for “OutlookSecureTempFolder”

This was a great way to end the day finding a great and accurate answer, seeing that there is hope after all for Live Search, and that the TechNet Forums had the answer in there while the KB articles were a bit lacking in that they kept referring to long file names.

74 thoughts on “Can’t open or save an attachment in Outlook 2003?

  1. Been seeing lots of references to this problem while trying to solve it myself. The root cause seems to be file attachments with the same name (eg. if the user always receives messages with attachements named FAX.TIF). The first copy gets written to the OLK folder as “FAX.TIF”. The next message stores it as “FAX (1).TIF”. The counter increments each time up to “FAX (99).TIF”. Once it hits 99, it can’t create anymore, so you get the “Cannot create file” message. Yes, just pruging the cache will address the problem, I just thought I’d share some insight into exactly what’s happening.

  2. Fantastic post – and I can add to it…

    Our symptoms – 1 PDF attachment (could have been any file) refused to open for user A on a PC, but opened fine for user B on same PC. This particular PDF was a form which was reguarly filled in, saved and sent by various people to this one recipient.

    I checked out the Outlook temp folder mentioned above and noticed that exactly 99 iterations of that file were stored there, i.e. the files called:

    anyname (2).pdf
    anyname (3).pdf
    all the way to…
    anyname (99).pdf

    (strangely, no ‘anyname (1).pdf’)

    99 seemed a rather significant number… so I deleted 1x instance and tried to open the file again.

    File opened fine…

    But guess what happened when I tried to open another email with an attachment of the same name…. yep, got the ‘permissions’ error.

    So I think the story is this: Outlook 2003 can only launch an attachment named ‘whatever.whatever’ a max of 99 times, because on the 100th attempt it gets confused over file naming (as it has no mechanism to delete the existing temporary files, it needs to be able to name the 100th one ‘whatever (100).whatever’ – but can’t).

    Fascinating huh?
    But what a dumb error message… if this is still the case in O 2007, they need to fix it.


  3. thanks for the great workaround mate. experts exchange has a say on it too but i dont want to give me money for a simple answer (i also dont have money! (^_^) lol!) fuck experts-exchange

  4. An easy way to view all the secret OLK folders is to revisit your C drive as a “network share”:

    Start, Run: \\yourcomputername\c$

    Then simply browse to your temporarily internet folder…

    \Documents and Settings\%userprofile%\local settings\temporary internet files\

    Now you can view and open any OLK## folders and delete the contents as needed. Turns out Windows forgets to protect the OLK folder if you approach it as a network share. BTW this works across the network to other computers you have admin rights to.

  5. This also happens if the “My Documnets” drive was changed by ur IT department to drive D: or so.

    What u do then is just update the drive letter in that registry variable, restart Outllok and voila u can do what u want with ur attachments again.

  6. How is it that this fix works for everyone but me? I have changed the location Outlook uses for the “SecureTemp…” folder. I have verified the user has “full control” permissions to the original temporary folder (Temp~Inter~…) and gave the user “full control” of the new location I setup in the registry. And about 2-3 hours after I made the change, the user said it started happening again.
    In that amount of time, the user had only opened 3-4 attachments with the same name, so it’s not the #99 rule either.
    Any thoughts ?

  7. That worked perfectly! You do have to empty the entire folder, not just the fax.tifs. I’m just wondering how many times I’m going to have to do this for the user?

  8. This works. Thanks. Though it is rare to see, it is possible to see it again. Is there a patch/fix from MS for this issue?

  9. I am having the problem in Office2007. I found that when he is looking at the email with the split plane view, he can double click the attachment and it opens. When he double clicks the email into it’s own window, then the attachment will not open. I have changed the reg key to a new folder with no luck.

  10. This solution has worked for me up until the last few days. I have routinely just gone and removed all items from tht temp folder and it worked. Now I remove those items and it is no longer solves the problem. I am still unable to open the documents which have the same name.

  11. Just a note that this still happens with OL2007.
    The delete files trick still works too, but the temporary folder is now a level lower under content.outlook, i.e. c:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\C2YV0H3R

  12. Excellent! Worked like a charm…I was opening documents for my co-worker for 6 months bc of this same problem. I finally got fed up and found this…whatta relief.


  13. Tried folder-rights, save mail adressee-check, saving the attachement. Nothing helped, or seems possible.

    Using Outlook 2003 SP3.

    However: THE SOLUTION was FOUND in this BLOG

    T H A NX

  14. Jeez, sometimes the hardest problems have the simplest solutions.  Thanks for this.  I looked at this problem from every angle for some time before I stumbled upon this solution.  I guess you just have to search for the right words.  It worked like a charm.  Who’d a thought?

  15. Simply Great !

    For me deleteting the temp files didnt work either, so I went to the Registry Editor, then in “OutlookSecureTempFolder”, in “Value Data” field:

    I had replaced the “C:\Documents and Settings\USER_NAME\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK#” thingie by another location on my drive, closed outlook and re opened it…. and it worked perfectly !

    Now I can continue my work 🙂

  16. i was having the issue where the none of the zip files would open in Outlook 2010 with Win 7 64 bit. Cleaning of the temp file really helped. I wonder why cleaing up the cache files using IE would not clean this?

  17. In my case, the attachment that Outlook couldn’t open always had the same filename: voice-message.wav (since Vonage e-mails me each voicemail message).  Once I went to that OLKE8C9 temp folder and deleted those 98 files — “voice-message (2).wav” through “voice-message (99).wav” — everything started working fine again!

  18. Thanksxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    this x would not end for your helping post.

    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

    sharma.aks.amit @

  19. Another option is to open another email that has an attachment , open that attachment and do a properties.  Copy the location info less filename into windows explorer .  (for win 7 , outlook 2007)

    eg C:\Users\name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\VSBWKBWH\

    The either locate the offending 99 versions and delete or just delete all the content in this cached area .

  20. Just started having this problem with Outlook 2003.  Currently running Windows 7.  Solved the problem quickly by deleting the OLK… folder from the reference in the “OutlookSecureTempFolder” key.  The key then ends at …\Temporary Internet Files\.   Apparently Windows 7 no longer uses the OLK… Folders.  — at least not on my machine.  Worked immediately after restarting Outlook.  

    Thanks for the great info!!

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