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I'm using Office 2010 & Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. My problem starts when I attempt to save e-mail messages to my PC that I have received via Outlook (my ISP is Comcast). I'm using the default .msg file extension option when I attempt to save these e-mails. The resultant files are locked and do not show the normal "envelope" icon. Instead, it’s a “blank page” icon with the right upper corner folded in. These files refuse to open either by double clicking on them or right clicking and trying to open them with Outlook. And when I return to Outlook, I discover that Outlook is now hung up and I have to close it via the Task Manager. To make matters worse, I’ve also discovered that every e-mail message that I've saved on my PC over the years has also somehow become locked and their original "envelope" icon has been replaced with the "blank page" icon.

I found and installed an application called LockHunter. As a result, when I right click on a saved and locked e-mail message, I’ve given an option to find out what's locking it. Each time I'm told that the culprit is Windows explorer.exe. When I unlock the file the normal envelope icon is sometimes displayed (but not always) but at least the file can then be opened. But the file is still “squirrely” as it can’t be moved or saved to a folder until it’s unlocked again. On this second attempt, LockHunter says it’s now locked by Outlook.exe. By the way, I don't have this issue when I save Word, Excel & PowerPoint files; only with Outlook.

I've exhausted every remedy that I can think of including: making sure that the file and folder options are checked to always show icons and not thumbnails; running the Windows 7 & Office 2010 repair options which find nothing amiss; running a complete system scan with Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool with negative results; verifying that Outlook is the default for opening e-mails; updating all of my applications via Secunia Personal Software Inspector; uninstalling every application that I felt was unnecessary; doing a registry cleanup via CC Cleaner; having Windows Security Essentials always on (it did find one Java Trojan recently which was quarantined and then deleted); uninstalling a bunch of non-Microsoft shell extensions; and deactivating all of the Outlook Add-ins and then re-activating each one. None of this solves the problem. I’d welcome any advice on how to resolve this.


I'm not sure what is meant by "Is LockHunter end tasking explorer.exe?" LockHunter unlocks the file and the desktop is unchanged.

When I run tasklist /svc, it opens and information flies by and then it closes immediately before I’m able to ascertain anything. Is there a way to get it to stay open after “doing its thing”?

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the only thing i can think of is that the file hasn't been completely written to disk. have you exported, closed outlook, and rebooted? this is NOT a solution it's a troubleshooting step. on nix i would tell you to run sync, but i don't know how to do this on windows –  hbdgaf Nov 14 '10 at 17:13
    
How are you unlocking it? is lockhunter end tasking explorer.exe ? I find when that's done, you lose the desktop and only option for copying and moving is to have cmd prompt open before that. But you seem to be able to still see the desktop after you think you unlocked it.. yet you say explorer.exe is unlocking it. –  barlop Nov 14 '10 at 17:37

5 Answers 5

Have you got any antivirus software running that could be hooking into Outlook or the file system? I often see this with McAfee or other intrusive A/V applications where they inexplicably lock files while they're scanning (and often don't relinquish the lock afterward).

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Have you tried Tasklist /svc and seen if any services are associated with explorer.exe?

If it's not an important service then you could try stopping the service.. or temporarily stopping it and see if it then lets you work with the file.

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I'm not sure what is meant by "Is LockHunter end tasking explorer.exe?" LockHunter unlocks the file and the desktop is unchanged. When I run tasklist /svc, it opens and information flies by and then it closes immediately before I’m able to ascertain anything. Is there a way to get it to stay open after “doing its thing”? –  John Prince Nov 22 '10 at 8:17
    
the obvious way to enter commands, is open a command prompt. start..run..cmd<ENTER> tasklist /svc<ENTER> If you wanted to do the whole thing from start..run, there isn't much advantage, but start..run..cmd /k taslist /svc <ENTER> –  barlop Nov 24 '10 at 3:18
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As to my question of "Is LockHunter end tasking explorer.exe?" I guess it isn't, Normally when a process locks a file, the solution is killing the process. in explorer.exe's case, it doesn't goes and can be restarted no prob, but it doesn't go quietly! If it had end tasked explorer.exe and restart it, you'd know, things would disappear and reappear. So whatever lockhunter does, it must work differently to that. I know svchost.exe can have associated services.. not sure about explorer.exe –  barlop Nov 24 '10 at 5:11

This sounds like it may be the Content Indexer, try disabling/turning off the "Indexing Service" in Computer Management > Services and Applications > Services.

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Thanks for the suggestion. I recently gave up on finding a solution to this issue and reinstalled Windows 7 which resolved the problem. –  John Prince Feb 7 '11 at 16:42

Sometimes there are multiple instances of Outlook.exe running even if you close out of it. After you close out of Outlook, go to Task Manager and make sure you also end task on all pending Outlook.exe. If you have selected the file in Explorer, the preview pane is displaying it, or you have turned on thumbnail with small, medium, large, or very large icons... that can also lock your file up.

There is a free tool called Process Explorer by SysInternals. It is similar to LockHunter in being able to find what program is locking the file, but ProcExp provides a bit more technical detail and with a little bit of snooping, you might be able to ascertain why your message are being locked.

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Disabling the Preview Pane (in Explorer) often resolves this issue.

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