How To: Delete ghost messages from MS Outlook

We show you how you can delete stuck messages from the outbox folder in MS Outlook.

Most people who use Microsoft Outlook as an email client for Gmail or their personal POP mail would sometimes notice that it is trying to send out emails but there aren’t any in the outbox. These are usually ghost messages that have been sent earlier or are too large and stuck in your outbox. Deleting these stuck emails removes them, but there are some traces that are not visible and deleting these can be a pain as you cannot see them in the first place.

Messages are being sent, but actually there are none

Messages are being sent, but actually there are none



If you are seeing messages being sent out without anything in your outbox, it could be a read receipt or a corrupted email. Removing this email or solving this error is a bit dicey, but not impossible. However, before you attempt the following procedure, you will need to take a backup of your Outlook emails in a safe place. Let’s take you through the entire procedure of safely backing up your emails and rectifying the problem.


Step1: Backing up your emails

In order to back up your emails, we recommend that you first delete all unwanted and junk emails and later compact the main email storage file. Unlike Outlook Express that stores the Inbox, Outbox, Sent and other folders in individual DBX files, MS Outlook stores all Emails, Contacts, Calendar and everything else you see in a single file in its own .PST format. This file is located deep within the user profile folder for safe keeping. You need to back up this single file to a safe location such as a different drive on the PC, a pen drive or an optical disc. The backup is needed because we will be working closely with this file and in an unfortunate event of it being corrupted, you have a copy of it that can save your day. Since this PST file tends to get very large, it is suggested that you delete unwanted emails and compress the file using the email client itself. To compress these files and back up the PST file, do the following:

  • Click on ‘Tools > Options’ and then select the ‘Mail Setup’ tab
  • Click on the ‘Data Files’ button and then double-click on ‘Personal Folders’
  • Click on the ‘Compact Now’ button and wait for a few moments for it to complete
Delete unwanted emails and compact the PST file

Delete unwanted emails and compact the PST file



This procedure will shrink the main PST file that contains all the emails and other Outlook data. Now we need to back up the data (.PST file) to a safe location. In the same window where you pressed the Compact Now button, you will find a field ‘Filename:’ and the path to the .PST file we are looking for. Copy this path, paste it into Windows Explorer and you will find a few extra files. All you need to do is copy the files called ‘Outlook.pst’ and ‘Archive.pst’ to a safe location. Now that you have backed up the data, proceed further.

Backup the entire Outlook PST data file

Back up the entire Outlook PST data file



Step2: Downloading the utility

In order to get the stuck emails or ghost mails out of the Outbox, you need to download a utility from the Microsoft servers. You can download the file from The utility is known as Information Store Viewer Tool and is distributed for free from Microsoft. The download is in the form of a self extracting archive. Save it on your desktop.

Download and start the utility

Download and start the utility



Step3: Running the utility

From the folder where you just extracted the downloaded file, run the ‘MSbvu32.exe’ utility. You will be greeted with a very crudely designed window with jargon-filled options. It doesn’t matter; simply click ‘OK’ and proceed further. If you are not confident about the procedure, just ask a friend or a professional to handle it for you. You will see a blank Notepad-style window called ‘MDB Viewer Test Application’. This is where all the action will take place. Now proceed with the following:


  • Click ‘MDB > Open Message Store’ and select your default ‘.PST’ file from the list. The one that is the default will be named  ‘Personal Folders’ and marked with a D in front of it. Highlight the file and click ‘Open’. The window will now disappear and you will be back to the previous window.
  • Now again click on ‘MDB’ and this time select ‘Open Root Folder’. You will now see another window; take a moment to understand it.
Locate and choose the blocked emails

Locate and choose the blocked emails



  • This window will have three columns on the top. The first column ‘Child Folders’ contains certain rows. Click on the first row named ‘SPAM Search Folder 2’ and on your right side you will see the messages in this folder. These are the messages that are either stuck or invisible and cannot be sent out. We need to delete these mails. Proceed ahead.
  • Select the first message and then choose ‘lpMDB->AbortSubmit() (ON SELECTED MSG)’ from the drop down list in ‘Operations available’. After that, click the ‘Call Function’ button and press ‘OK’ in the following screen.
  • Now keeping the same message selected, choose ‘lpFld->DeleteMessages() (ON SELECTED MSGS)’ form the ‘Operations available’ list and then press the ‘Call Function’ button and press ‘OK’ on the following screen. You will notice that you have successfully deleted one stuck message.
  • Repeat the two steps for all the messages that are shown in the ‘Messages in folder’ column till you eliminate all the stuck messages. The “Messages in Folder” pane should be empty, which means you have successfully dealt with the emails that were notified as being sent out.
  • Once these steps are complete, click on the ‘Close’ button and then click on ‘MDB > Store Logoff’. This saves and closes the PST file. You can now close and exit the utility.
Delete them safely and log off

Delete them safely and log off



Now open MS Outlook and you will see that your email client is no longer trying to send ghost emails. If in any case you encountered an error somewhere and damaged your PST file, you can restore the backup you saved earlier.


If you use Outlook very often and are continuously receiving large emails and junk , you might need to run this utility every so often. This workshop was created due to repeated requests by several friends and readers who have the same problem. This method can be used in all versions of Microsoft Outlook.

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