Outlook 2003 red x where embedded image should be in email

Some user was complaining to me the other day about not being able to see embedded images in Outlook 2003.  I logged onto his screen and noticed a red x where the image should be.  I had him forward me one of the emails and I was able to see the image just fine.  I honestly didn’t care if he couldn’t see it or not since it wasn’t work-related….but…sometimes I’m a nice guy.  I searched the Internet a bit and here’s the solution that worked!

  1. Exit out of Outlook 2003 on the machine with the issue
  2. Open the registry (Start->Run->type regedit->click OK)
  3. Navigate and open the following registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\Security\OutlookSecureTempFolder
  4. Within the key…it should say something like  %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK3D\
  5. Highlight and delete %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK3D\
  6. Close out of the registry and open Outlook 2003!
  7. Wooohoooo!!!   All fixed!

  114 comments for “Outlook 2003 red x where embedded image should be in email

  1. February 8, 2008 at 10:21 am

    thanks! I had 2 users with the same issue, this came in handy

  2. February 8, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    No problem and thanks for visiting!

  3. ntdude98
    February 26, 2008 at 11:51 am

    While the registry key may resolve the problem I though I would provide more details on exactly what is happening and other ways to fix the issue that do not require editing the registry.

    The issue happens due to the 99 file name problem. You can not have more than 99 copies of the same file name in the folder. After it hits the 99th one it will no longer display that image anymore, ie image001 (99).jpg. This will usually happen with emails sent frequently with the same image in them. By going to the location specified in the SecureTempFolder registry key and deleting the contents everything will work again until an image with the same name hits 99 copies.

    This is also a hidden file that is not viewable when logged in with the profile your trying to correct. To see the folder, type it into the address bar and it will become visible.

    By creating a script that automatically purges this location you can control the problem. Otherwise it will keep reoccuring for users who view messages with the same images in them repeatedly.

    The reason deleting the registry key works is because it creates a new folder the next time you login to Outlook which is empty so there is no image filename issue.

  4. March 4, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Excellent. It’s kind of weird that I came across this. My fiancee was having this problem last week and I finally gave up on it. I’ll fix it right up for her.

  5. Thank you sooooooo.....
    March 4, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Thank you sooooooooooooooooooooooo………… MUCH
    It was very very very very very very helpful and good sulotion
    also the reason and description is verrrrrrrrrrrrry good

    Thanks alot

  6. Eric
    March 17, 2008 at 5:31 am

    Gee. I ran ino this problem too, but where others seem to have resolved the issue, in my case there is still a red X….
    I emptied the temp internet folder, the temp OLK… folder, removed the registry key, still no cigar…
    Does anyone have another option?

  7. batman
    April 10, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    it works 04/01/08

  8. Mike
    April 22, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I can’t even find that registry key and I still get the red x’s. Not always Wooohoooo.

  9. geoffrey coffin
    April 24, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    That is a great fix!
    Thank you very much

  10. Luciano
    April 28, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    For people like myself whom cannot access regedit unless logged in as administrator, ntdude98′s explination is an excellent fix. This problem has been giving me the shits for about a month now :-P

    Thanks mate!

  11. seth
    May 27, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    dude. that was like finally finding dental floss after 4 nights of camping! thanks for the awesome fix. why the heck can’t microsoft post that?!?

  12. Erika Reategui
    June 6, 2008 at 11:15 am

    It did not fixed it :) still getting the red x.

  13. Santi
    June 20, 2008 at 7:13 am

    Thanks a lot!! It worked perfectly!!

  14. June 24, 2008 at 7:29 am

    No Problem Santi

  15. July 8, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Thanks, worked for me!!!

  16. joe
    July 15, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Thank you very much. You are the best man.

  17. Monique
    July 18, 2008 at 7:32 am

    This is amazing….I’ve tried so many things and this worked!!!
    thank you

  18. Greg
    July 23, 2008 at 3:44 am

    Thanks for much for this fix.

  19. Balaram
    August 1, 2008 at 1:15 am

    This is a great, Thank you very much. Its really helped me lot.

  20. Dorte Enemærke
    August 12, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Hello. I hope that someone can help me. I have the same problem, and it is very work-related, but I can´t navigate to the described HKEY. How do I do that? Thanks in advance.

  21. Dave D
    August 14, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Enemærke –

    the instructions are a bit vague. You have to do “Start->Run->type regedit->click Ok” instead.

    Other than that, if you are getting the registry editor open and you’re running in a secure environment, you might not see the key because you don’t have the proper permissions. See your n/w admin for help.

  22. Dick Rogers
    August 20, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I could not navigate to the registry key. I am using windows XP professional

  23. Matt Sample
    September 9, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    The fix did not work for me either. I have been able to delete the reg key, but still no dice.

  24. September 10, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Hey Dick,

    Do you not have permission to navigate to the registry key or you don’t have it?

  25. September 10, 2008 at 8:54 pm


    There might be other fixes but this is what worked for me. Sorry

  26. September 14, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Thank you, the solution work! Cheers

  27. Diana Cromes
    September 23, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    It worked!!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  28. September 23, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    glad I could help :)

  29. Dave
    October 8, 2008 at 6:55 am

    This has worked before on a particular user’s computer here, but now she’s having the same issue and this doesn’t fix it anymore.

  30. pOtTs
    October 8, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks for the info from both TheOfficeCubicle and ntdude98. This was really starting to annoy me.

    Cleaned up that temp directory and everything shows up now.

  31. Nitescan
    October 10, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    For those of you that have cleared the folder and it still isn’t working, the temp folder Outlook is using might have changed. A quick way to see what Outlook is using as your temp folder is to go to an email with a file attachment and open the attachment. Word, Excel, or PDF files work best. Then choose Save As and look at the folder name that appears by default, usually beginning with OLK…

    Next, right-click Start then Explore and navigate to the following under your username: Local Settings > Temporary Internet Files. In the address bar at the top, add that default folder name you found to the end of the address (i.e. C:\Documents and Settings\11215453\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK29A) and hit enter.

    This will show you all of the temp files in that folder which you can delete. Our users go through a lot of PDF files on a daily basis, so we’ve added a shortcut to that folder to their desktop so they can easily delete the files when the folder gets full.

  32. Sig
    October 17, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Thank you very much for posting. This helped immediately. I then went in and deleted everything in the temp folder also, which should help.

  33. DC
    October 22, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    After trying many other suggestions, most around what editor is associated with Outlook, without success, finally one that worked!
    Thank you very much.

  34. Min
    October 24, 2008 at 11:37 am

    It worked great. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

  35. Dorte Enemærke
    October 26, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Hi there.

    The part in your answer that I don´t understand is how to “navigate and open the following registry key”??? Can you tell me how to do so?

    Thank you in advance.

    Best regards
    Dorte Enemærke

  36. October 27, 2008 at 7:16 am

    TYPO at Open the registry (Start->Run->type cmd->click Ok)

    It should be Open the registry (Start->Run->type REGEDIT->click Ok)

  37. Mark
    October 31, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    The Red X in Outlook 2003 using MS Word as the editor has been bugging me for months! This fixed it for me! Fiiiiiinnnnaaaaalllllyy I am rid of the red x. Thanks a million! Although I had to go to start, run, regedit, Ok to begin navigating to find the setting for Temporary internet files.

  38. Eric
    November 11, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    BAM, it worked like a charm.

    Thank you

  39. P Bateman
    November 17, 2008 at 6:56 am

    It didn’t work for me, anything else I can try?

  40. John
    November 18, 2008 at 11:42 am

    this fixed 1 of 2 of my problem. thanks!

    now if only there’s a fix on that annoying connection problem of Outlook 2003 on a LAN.

  41. December 1, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Actually, you can delete the folder after you close Outlook, and that works too.

    %userprofile% works out to be
    “C:\Documents and Settings\[userID]\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK3D\”
    or at least a folder that starts with ‘OLK…’.

    Delete the folder, and the image issue goes away.


  42. Gary
    December 4, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    worked like a charm, thanks for something that works..this has been buggin me for a while.

  43. Kevin
    December 18, 2008 at 6:08 am

    I’m having this issue on most of my network computers at work.

    So far I have.
    - Deleted the registry key
    - Cleared the “Don’t download pictures….” setting
    - Deleted the OLK Directory
    - Deleted my entire user profile
    - Switched to Rich Text

    And I still have the red X or in some cases no red x, just a blank area where the picture should be.

    If I forward the email the images appear. The images are all web images.

    When the red x is there, If I right click download images, the images still do not appear. (They only appear when I forward / reply).

  44. Kevin
    December 18, 2008 at 8:45 am

    After posting my message I discovered that their is a link between Outlook and Internet Explorer. I use ISA Server and Utilize the MS Firewall Client.

    Because I use the Firewall Client I disabled the Proxy server settings in my Internet Explorer. Turning on my proxy server in IE immediately fixed my Outlook Image problem.

    Now everything works correctly and I can see the images.

  45. December 22, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Nice… :)
    Thank You,

    Biju Subhash

  46. Gedit
    January 5, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    I like solutions with explanations of teh reason why a problem occurs, so I appreciate ntdude98′s explanation and now I understand why this stupid thing was happening… Microsoft creates a problem but doesn’t provide the solution… Seriously you can’t find this solution in their knowledge base…


  47. Pete
    January 22, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Cheers mate, I researched all sorts of fixes and techno babble, but your was succinct and worked straight away.
    Thanks for saving me time at work today!

  48. Jyenny
    February 11, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks! The temp folder cleaning was the solution that worked for me. Thanks for saving my hair (I was about ready to tear it out).

  49. Vincent
    February 11, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Yes, it fixed the problem. Good advice. Thanks

  50. HH Keith
    February 26, 2009 at 6:36 am

    My problem is a little different. It started, I think after deleting a virus related to EI. In the process, my default browser changed from Firefox to IE. My place holder is a small square with 3 colored dots. Is this equivalent to a “red X”? It is every where! All through my outlook e-mails. Even in Turbo Tax (I do not know what buttons mean when I have to click one. It even shows up “help & support”. I am not a pro but I have looked everywhere.

    I need help and this is the best spot that I have found.


  51. HH Keith
    February 27, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I do not get the “redx”, I get a square with three colored dots in it. I have outlook 2003. All that I get with an embedded picture is a big area blocked off and the above mentioned square at the top right corner.

    This is also occurring in other programs such as Turbo Tax.

    Hope you can help.


  52. Velix
    March 11, 2009 at 7:57 pm


    It is not working for me though. I have tried your solution.

    Anyone can help, pls T_T

  53. Keith
    April 16, 2009 at 5:44 am

    It worked for me. Excellent stuff.
    Thank you.

    May 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    It worked for me but I had to reboot after editing the registry. This may be the problem for some who are having trouble with the posted fix.

  55. Thomas Lau
    May 5, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    It worked……. Thanks so much………….. :)

  56. chuck
    May 19, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Nice. fixed my issue and I found a lot of items to delete and free up space. Surprising I could not find those OLK* folders when doing a full search including hidden and system files.
    Thanks for posting.

  57. mark h
    June 23, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    you’re a legend :)

  58. R. E. Fox
    June 27, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    I was unable to reply to emails or send emails from Outlook 2003 SP3.

    The registry fix solved the problem.


  59. Jennifer h
    October 5, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks, this worked!!! I had two users with this problem and deleting everything in the temp folder didn’t work for one of the users. thank you thank you thank you!!!

  60. Sabrina Nicholson
    October 7, 2009 at 10:39 am

    It worked for me! Thank you so much! :)

  61. Angela Severson
    October 14, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    This was most helpful…thanks so much!

  62. Jeff
    November 9, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Worked perfectly – thank you! 11/9/2009

  63. venkat
    January 4, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Bunch of thanks to You My friend!!! It worked for me..

  64. frumpycat
    January 8, 2010 at 9:33 am

    This worked awesome…thanks…this had been bugging me for months. Only comment is I didn’t hit “cmd” but “regedit” to get to the directory.

  65. BigTex
    January 25, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Worked great, though after reading the explaination of why this is happening, I went ahead and created a small batch file to clean the folder at every boot. To do so, navigate to the registry entry in the oriianl instructions. Double click the OutlookSecureTempFolder key and copy the entire path to the Outlook Cache folder. Now open up notepad and type in:
    del /q “C:\Documents and Settings\derickson\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLKxxx\*.*”
    Replace the OLKxxx with the actual name of your OLK folder. It will be different for everyone. Now save the file as ClearOutlook.CMD. You can name the file whatever you want, but make sure you change the extension to CMD. You will have to change the file type in the Save As window in Notepad to All Files. Now create a new shortcut in your Start Up folder in your Start menu. That will run it everytime your system boots and will clear out the folder.

  66. sventizzle
    February 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    RE: Kevin

    This works, if you have tried everything else and still have the red X, go to internet options>Connections>LAN Settings>uncheck “Use a proxy server…”

    that should fix it right up

  67. Kim Eveland
    February 15, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Thanks Nitescan! That worked. Turned out the person who was having the problem had not run her regular maintenance in several months. Just a disc clean up might have fixed it, but I did follow your instructions and the imbedded pics are back. Note that depending on what outlook version you are on the pat will vary. I have 2007 and she has 2003 so mine had an added folder referenced of “Content.Outlook” and my folder stars wt RNBJ instead of the OLK.

  68. GoldenDays
    February 18, 2010 at 5:17 am

    Hi, I have a security server that embeds automatically pictures in e-mail messages that are sent to me automatically. In some days I receive more than 20/25 emails with 6 pictures each.
    I noticed that I can open every message and see the pictures until exactly the email where the magic number of 99 pictures is reached. In that email (where I see pictures 97, 98 and 99, pictures 100, 101 and 102 are not viewable (red cross on them).
    To see them I don’t need to edit the registry, I simple close Outlook 2003 and reopen. If I start viwewing the emails again, the 99 counter is in some way reset, and I can see view the pictures for another run of 99.
    Since in the meantime I moved the emails that were already checked to a different folder in Outlook (most of them to the Deleted items folder), I can avoid to reopen the same emails twice.
    This is more practical for me than to change the registry every time. Of course I would love to have a permanent solution, but I hope this can help somebody.

  69. February 26, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    You rock. I’ve been pulling my hair out over this one for days. Even though it is a small problem, it was damned annoying. Thanks so much for posting this.

  70. mjgil
    March 26, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I searched for almost a full day before finding this fix. Thanks….
    It just should be this difficult. Nonetheless, this fix works.

  71. Bill
    March 31, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks much- worked great for me to!

  72. elianne reed
    April 1, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    oh please can somebody help me… i have read everything and dont understand a word, adn nothing was related to hotmail. I was sending emails as usual and then the spam filter 8 letter thing came up but with the little white box with red square saying “picture of 8 letters”. Until i fix it, i cant send any emails, and i cant listen to the audio as ive no speakers? Is anyone out there?! :-)

  73. Skyberd
    April 13, 2010 at 11:42 am

    This works! Thank you very much

  74. Deb
    May 6, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Hooray!! Worked like a charm! You guys are GOOD!!

  75. Barry Everett
    May 18, 2010 at 1:22 am

    Fantastic, thanks. Worked for me.

  76. May 26, 2010 at 2:45 am

    Hallo, Thank You Very Much. Problem in my office solve now…
    But maybe you can change Point 2
    “Open the registry (Start->Run->type cmd->click Ok)”
    Not CMD but REGEDIT.

    anyway we can find “OutlookSecureTempFolder” more faster just click F3 (Searching)

    One again, Thank You… :)

  77. Kannan
    July 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks for the tip, really helpful.

  78. August 24, 2010 at 5:58 am

    Great link :) Saved a long call to IT support :)

  79. Ricardo M
    September 9, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Works great!
    Thaks! :D

  80. Karthik B.S.
    September 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm


    Your tip worked for me! Thank You!
    I created a “.cmd” file as you had mentioned and executed it, and voila! I able to see the images again! The important thing is that I don’t even have access to the folder “OLKxxx” under the “Temporary Internet Files”.

    Thanks again!

  81. andersen
    October 22, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    like a charm !!!

  82. November 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm


    It’s working. Thanks a lot. Even I don’t see OLK… key but I noticed there is temporary folder path so I deleted it immediately.
    After rebooting, I can now see the embeded picture.

    Thank you very much

  83. drennman
    December 19, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Great thread! All this made great sense . . .but . . I did everything. Cleaned out the Outlook temp file. And also went back later when that didn’t work and deleted the file and let Outlook create a new one (which it did). Rebooted too at each try. Still red x’s. Changed my proxy server settings as suggested still red x’s

    Images are “there” as they appear if forwarded to another email account, like Yahoo mail. I had seen the images correctly in some emails before when I had opened them while now they show just as red x’s.

    “Clean boot” has same red x’s?

    Anything else that could be wrong (ps HTML set and Prevent download of images IS NOT checked).

    Happened from one day to the next without any apparent system changes.

  84. Pingback: Savvy Girl Tech
  85. January 10, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Works like a charm! Thanks

  86. jim
    January 27, 2011 at 3:09 am


  87. Deep
    February 23, 2011 at 1:48 am

    It worked for me!! Thanks a lot..
    update is like
    you wont see the same folder name (OLK3D) giving in the description, it could be different folder under “Temporary Internet Files”. just go to the folder and delete the content. No need to delete the register.

    %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK3D\

    Done !! :)

  88. dhammika
    February 24, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Great it works. you should create your own web site with Q&A. You are so good in answering questions and explaining the reason. The best straight forward answer I have seen in the web so far.


  89. satish
    March 7, 2011 at 11:34 am

    This stuff works man !!! just try it out

    Exit out of Outlook 2003 on the machine with the issue
    Open the registry (Start->Run->type regedit->click OK)
    Navigate and open the following registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\Security\OutlookSecureTempFolder
    Within the key…it should say something like %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK3D\
    Highlight and delete %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK3D\
    Close out of the registry and open Outlook 2003!

    This stuff works man !!! just try it out

  90. Rahim
    April 11, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Thanks alot

  91. Bantotski
    May 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    It really helps! Thanks!

  92. Paul
    May 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Great…thanks VERY much!

  93. June 14, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Thanks!! Worked well, now when my client screenprints, it displays the pic :)

  94. Sue
    June 24, 2011 at 10:56 am

    This was driving me nuts for months!!! I decided to live with the red X after multiple attempts at suggested solutions failed. This one worked! Thank you very much!

  95. Mikes
    July 6, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Hi guys,

    Maybe you should update you Internet Explorer to V8.

  96. Alberto Chestaro
    July 19, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Like a charm. Thanks!

  97. Alvaro
    August 19, 2011 at 3:28 am

    ¡Muchas gracias! Me ha venido genial. Tenía el mismo problema en un par de usuarios y por fin ven bien las imágenes.

  98. Rahul
    September 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Thank you for the inputs. What I did was, delete all the files in the secure temp folder. It works!!!!

  99. November 9, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Did not work for me :)

  100. November 9, 2011 at 8:56 am

    :) did not work for me!

  101. Russell
    November 10, 2011 at 11:19 am

    awesome! works like a charm…

  102. eugene
    March 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    what settings do i put in for outlook 2007 so i can send mail i can receve but not send
    Please Help

  103. cathy
    April 9, 2012 at 5:15 am

    awesome! very help:)

  104. Laura
    April 11, 2012 at 7:39 am

    What do I do if “OutlookSecureTempFolder” is not there?

    My mom cleared out her temporary internet files, and since then has not been able to send. Is it possible that this folder was also deleted?

  105. rlv
    June 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    This is what works for me for Outlook 2007 in both XP and Vista:

    1. Start, Run, tupe ‘cmd’ and hit enter

    2. Type in the command prompt ‘cd %temp%’. Press Enter.

    3. Verify with Client path listed to left of curser ends in ‘Temporary’ or ‘Temp’. If it does not, repeat step two.

    4. Next, type ‘del *.* /s/q’ and press Enter

  106. Genius
    July 16, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    It worked..and thanks for the extra comments from other users which helped solve the issue also!!

  107. July 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks, it works very good.

  108. 1aufromthesun
    January 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    I disagree with this solution. The existing path in the OutlookSecureTempFolder registry key should NOT be deleted, because this doesn’t actually empty the existing “OLK” temp folder of its files. Once the existing OLK path is deleted from the registry, the next time Outlook starts, it simply creates a new OLK folder without actually deleting the contents of the old OLK folder. If you used this method often, it will result in multiple OLK folders, each with a significant buildup of space-wasting temp files. A better way is to do the following:
    1. close Outlook
    2. go to the OLK folder listed in the OutlookSecureTempFolder registry key (e.g., %userprofile%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLKXYZ — or whatever it is)
    3. delete all files from that folder
    4. restart Outlook

  109. James Goodhew
    July 11, 2013 at 5:57 am

    Still having problem of send/receive does not function. I call up the progress box and it says all 5 tasks completed successfully.
    Things done: New default profile, repaired installation, repaired PST, repaired OST, renamed OST, changed IE settings to use proxy of our DC just in case, didn’t work so reset to not use proxy.
    Outlook 2007 on Win 7 with Avast! running.

    Thanks for any help.

  110. Lori
    September 4, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Solved my problem. Thanks so much!!!

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