Fix Microsoft Outlook Can’t Create File Errors

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 17, 2011
Updated • Nov 29, 2012
Microsoft Outlook, Software, Windows software

Microsoft Outlook users who receive many file attachments of the same name will run into a can't create file error message eventually. This can happen for instance if voicemail or faxes are routed to email. The core problem is this. Outlook creates a temporary copy of each attachment in a directory, and appends a number behind the file name if the names are otherwise identical. The error message is displayed once that count reaches 100. If that is the case, users will get the following error message in Outlook for the next files with that filename.

Can’t Create file: [filename]. 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

cant create file

The only option? To clear the temporary storage space to make room for new attachments. Clearing the cache does not negatively affect the attachments in Outlook, it simply means that Outlook won't be able to access them from hard drive cache but instead from MIME format directly which might take longer to process.

Outlook Cleanup Tool is a free program for Outlook that can clear the cache automatically or semi-automatically so that the can't create file error does not pop up anymore in the email client.

outlook attachment cleaner

Run the program after download to resolve the error. It displays a list of cached files. The information are taken from the Registry. A click on Clean Up clears the temporary cache which in turn resolves the error message.

It needs to be noted that the cache will be filled again by Outlook, and that it may be necessary to run the tool regularly to avoid the can't create file error message.

The program can be run from the command line. It has a /silent switch which will clean up the cache automatically without user interaction. Handy to use the command in a batch file at log on for instance or log off.

Besides solving the can't create file errors, it resolves a privacy issue as well, if other users have access to the computer system. Caching attachments as temporary files might give other users access to them in the temp folder, even if the original attachment has been deleted or detached from the email message. Cleaning the temporary data folder removes that possibility.

You can naturally locate and delete the temp folder manually. For that, you need to open the Windows Registry and search for the key OutlookSecureTempFolder.

It should be under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\x.x\Outlook\Security where x.x is the internal version of Outlook.

You can download the portable Outlook Cleanup Tool from the developer website over at Intelliadmin. The program is compatible with all versions of Windows from Windows 2000 on, and all versions of Microsoft Outlook from Outlook XP to the very latest Outlook 2010.


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  1. Daryl George Enriquez said on June 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    This is truly helpful. I haven’t experienced this though. So, I’m just wondering if SCANPST can fix this? Or this error just comes up ONLY when there is a need to clean up my storage space?

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