FIX: Cannot Delete Outlook Emails (SOLVED)

Last updated on September 28th, 2020

One of my customer called me to report that suddenly cannot delete Outlook Emails from the Inbox or other folders in Outlook 2016. The problem of unable to delete email messages in Outlook can be faced in any version of Outlook (Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016), and in this tutorial you will find step-by-step instructions to solve the problem.

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Problem in details: When you try to delete an email message from the Inbox folder in Outlook by using the ' DEL ' key (or by using the right-click -> Delete), Outlook freezes and does not respond and the only way to overcome this behavior, is to close and reopen the Outlook application. After re-launching the Outlook application, the messages are deleted but when you try to delete other emails the problem re-appears.

How to FIX: Unable to Delete Emails in Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013 or 2010.

Method 1. Mark IMAP Messages For Deletion in Outlook.
Method 2. Increase the Maximum File Size of the Outlook PST Data file.
Method 3. Repair the Outlook PST Data file.

Method 1. Mark IMAP Messages For Deletion in Outlook. *

* Note: This method works only for IMAP accounts.

If you setup an IMAP account in Outlook and you cannot delete emails, then apply the following settings in Account Settings.

1. Close Outlook.
2. Navigate to Control Panel and open Mail. *

* Note: If you don't see the 'Mail' options, set the 'View By' to 'Small icons', to view all control panel items.

3. Click Email Accounts.

FIX: Cannot Delete Outlook Emails

4. Double click at your email account to view its properties.

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5. Click More Settings.

cannot delete outlook emails

6. At the Advanced tab, in 'Deleted Items' section, select the following options and click OK:

  • Mark items for deletion but do not move them automatically. Items marked for deletion will be permanently deleted when the items in the mailbox are purged.
  • Purge items when switching folders while online.

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7. Then click Next -> Finish and Close to close all windows.
8. Open Outlook and the problem should be solved.

Method 2. Increase the Maximum Size of the Outlook PST Data file.

As you may know in all versions of Microsoft Outlook, all the information of the Outlook application (emails, contacts, calendar, etc.) is stored in a single file which named which the extension .PST. The Outlook PST data file has a maximum size limit depending on the version of Outlook. (In Outlook 2003 & 2007 the default maximum size for the PST file is 20GB and in Outlook 2010, 2013 and 2016 versions, the maximum size limit is 50GB)

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If the size of the Outlook PST file exceeds the maximum limit, then the most common problems is that you cannot receive new emails or delete the e-mail messages in Outlook. To resolve such problems, the only way is to increase the maximum size limit for the .PST data file. To do that:

1. Open Registry Editor. To do that:

1. Simultaneously press the Win image + R keys to open the run command box.
2. Type regedit and press Enter to open Registry Editor.

regedit

2. Navigate to the following registry key according to your Outlook version: *

  • Outlook 2016 or 2019: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\PST
  • Outlook 2013:              HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\PST
  • Outlook 2010:              HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Outlook\PST
  • Outlook 2007:              HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\PST

* Note: If the 'PST' key doesn't exist under the 'Outlook' key, then create it manually. To do that:

a. Right-click on the Outlook key and from the menu that appears, choose: New > Key.

increase outlook maximum size

b. Give at the new key the name: PST.

unable to delete outlook emails

3. In the right pane, create the following two (2) values (if they do not already exist): *

    1. MaxLargeFileSize
    2. WarnLargeFileSize

* Note: To create the above values:

a. Right-click on the right pane and from the menu that appears, choose: New > DWORD (32-bit)Value.

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b. Give at the new value the name:  MaxLargeFileSize and hit Enter.

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c. Repeat the same steps to create a new DWORD value with name: WarnLargeFileSize

4. Double click at 'MaxLargeFileSize' value, choose Decimal and in the value data specify type a bigger size in Megabytes (MB) according the following information:

  • 1GB=1024MB
  • In Outlook 2010, 2013, 2016 & 2019 the maximum size limit of the PST file is 50GB.
  • In Outlook 2003 & 2007 the maximum size limit of the PST file is 20GB.

e.g. if you want to increase the file size of the PST data file in Outlook 2016 from 50GB to 80GB, set the value data of the  'MaxLargeFileSize' to 81920 *

* Note: 1GB=1024MB, 50GB=51200MB (50 x 1024), 100GB=102400MB (100 x 1024)

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5. Then, double click at 'WarnLargeFileSize' value, choose Decimal and in the value data, type the new warning size in Megabytes (MB) according the following information:

  • This value must be set at least 95% of the 'MaxLargeFileSize' value

e.g. In our example the 'MaxLargeFileSize' value was set to '81920'. So the 'WarnLargeFileSize' value must be set at '77824' (81920 x 95%)

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6. When done, close the registry editor.
7. Open Outlook and try to delete emails.

Method 3. Repair the Outlook PST Data file.

The final method to resolve the "unable to delete Outlook emails" issue, is to repair the Outlook .PST data file, by using the Microsoft Outlook Inbox Repair Tool (SCANPST.EXE). To do that:

1. Close the Outlook application.
2. Open Windows explorer and navigate to the following location on disk:

  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\%OfficeVersion%\SCANPST.EXE

3. Double-click at SCANPST.EXE

repair outlook pst data file

4. Click Browse.

scanpst.exe repair outlook PST file

5. Select the Outlook .PST data file, from the below location:

  • C:\Users\%Username%\Documents\Outlook Files\YourEmailAccount.PST

6. Click Start.

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7. At the final repair phase, you will be asked if you want to create a backup. Click Yes.
8. When the repair process is completed, close the Inbox Repair Tool.
9. Launch Outlook.

That's it! Which method worked for you?
Let me know if this guide has helped you by leaving your comment about your experience. Please like and share this guide to help others.

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