Fix “Can’t Create File” Error in Outlook

Filed under: Outlook 

When you try to open an attachment in Microsoft Outlook, a temporary copy of the file attachment will be created so it can be opened in the application associated with the file type. Outlook can report an error “can’t create file: <filename>” in this case and will not be able to open the attachment.

The error message will indicate that it is an access problem to the folder where the temp file for the attachment is stored, but that is not always the case.

Before following the steps below to solve the “can’t create file” error, close Outlook to prevent file access problems.

In most cases the simplest way to solve the error is to delete the temporary internet files. You can do this from within the Internet Explorer. In the Tools menu select Internet Options. Then click the Delete button under Browsing history and make sure the checkbox Temporary Internet files is selected. Then click the Delete button.

Delete temporary internet files

If this does not work, you can try manually deleting the files in the folder used for storing temporary outlook attachments. This folder will be located in the current user’s profile. The easiest way to find the path to the Outlook temp folder is to get it from the registry.

Type regedit at the Start menu or Run option in the Start menu. In the Windows Registry Editor, select the Edit menu and click Find (or press Ctrl + F). Now type “OutlookSecureTempFolder” in the search box, and make sure the Values checkbox is selected (you can select the others too, but that is not required and will slow down the search).

Find Outlook temp folder in registry

Click the Find Next button to locate the registry value. Once the key is found (in my case in \HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Security), click Cancel. Then right-click the OutlookSecureTempFolder value in the right-hand panel and in the popup menu, select Modify.

This will bring up a window that shows the path, which is already selected.

Copy outlooksecuretempfolder

All you need to do now is press Ctrl+C to copy the path. Then click Cancel to close the window.

You can now close the Windows registry editor. And then open a Windows Explorer window to navigate to the path. Although you can manually navigate to the path, you would need to make sure hidden files and system files are shown, since the Temporary Internet Files folder is considered a system folder and will not be visible by default.

Instead, in the address bar of the explorer window, paste the path we copied from the registry value, and then press Enter. This will open the folder that contains the temporary Outlook attachments. The final step is to delete all files in that folder. Select them all and press Select them all and press Shift+Delete to permanently delete them, and click Yes for confirmation.

Now restart Microsoft Outlook and open the attachment again.


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