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Microsoft Outlook Troubleshooting: Ghostbusting Emails!

written by: Rita A.•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 5/18/2011

Ghost emails in Microsoft Outlook are usually caused by a corrupted PST file. You can remove ghost emails from Outlook manually, or you can use specialized software developed to remove them.

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    What is a "Ghost Email"?

    If you have used Microsoft Outook for very long you have probably had a power outage or computer failure while it was open. When this happens, the PST file can be corrupted and ghost emails can appear in Outlook.

    Fortunutately, it is easy to fix a corrupted PST file through Microsoft Outlook using the Inbox Repair Tool.

    Close Microsoft Outlook if it is open. Click the Start button, click Computer, double-click Local Disk (C:) and navigate to:

    Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE12.

    Double-click the scanpst.exe file. Enter the name of the PST file that is corrupted. In most cases, this file is named Outlook.pst. If you do not know the name of the file, you can click the Browse button to search for it. Click the Start button to start the scan. If errors are found, it will prompt you to repair the file. Click the Repair button to fix the corrupted PST file.

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    Remove Ghost Emails from Outlook

    If the above method did not work for you, there is another way to fix a corrupted PST file.

    Close Microsoft Outlook if it is open. Click the Start button, click Computer, double-click the hard disk drive (C:) and navigate to this folder:


    Within the Outlook folder, right-click Outlook.pst and select Copy. Click the Back arrow button from the menu bar at the top left side. Right-click the Outlook folder and select Paste.

    Double-click the Outlook folder to open it. Rename the original Outlook.pst file to Outlook1.pst. Rename the Outlook.pst you just copy and pasted and name it Outlook2.pst.

    Open Microsoft Outlook. The first thing it will do is search for the PST file. It won’t be able to find it, so a message displays on the screen asking which PST file you want to use. Select the Outlook1.pst file. It will then display the same message for the ghost PST. Select the Outlook2.pst file.

    Click the File tab at the top of the screen, and click the Info tab from the menu. Click the Account Settings tab, and then click Account Settings again. Click Data Files and you will see the two PST files. Right-click the second PST file, and click Close to remove the file. Restart Microsoft Outlook and the ghost emails should be gone.

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    Use Specialized Software to Remove Ghost Emails from Outlook

    Sometimes it’s easier to use software developed for the sole purpose of removing Microsoft Outlook ghost files. One such software is PST Ghostbuster. This program removes duplicate PST files (also referred to as Ghost Files) from the Outlook profile. Close Microsoft Outlook if it is open.

    Search for PST Ghostbuster from Google and download it onto your computer. Open the file. Select your Outlook profile from the drop down list and click the Check button. PST Ghostbuster then scans your computer for duplicate (ghost) files. If ghost files are found, the message “Invalid sections that should be removed were found" displays on the screen. Click the Repair button to remove the ghost files.

    Open Microsoft Outlook and the ghost files should be removed.

    duplicate pst files 

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