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Find the Microsoft Outlook Temporary OLK folder

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook OLK Folder?

Where does Microsoft create the Outlook Temporary folder (better known as the OLK folder)? Or, where does Microsoft store that pesky OLK folder and temporary data such as attachments?

Answer:

Depending on the operating system, version of Outlook, and user currently logged in, the OLK temporary folder gets created in a different spot. The good news is, it’s simple to find no matter the version of Outlook including — Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013, and even Microsoft latest version — Outlook 2016.

To determine the spots where folders got created, open the Windows registry using regedit.exe and look for the Registry key OutlookSecureTempFolder using the map below:

Outlook 97: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\8.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 98: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\8.5\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2000: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\9.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2002/XP: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\10.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2003: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2007: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2010: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2013: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2016: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\Security
Update 8/3/2015
Office 2016 didn’t change anything in regards to the OLK folder. Outlook 2016 users that are looking for the OLK temporary folder, also known as the OutlookSecureTempFolder, can track down the folder using the registry key map above.

Using the chart above, here are a few screenshots comparing my Windows XP system running Office 2003 vs. my Windows 8.1 system running Office 2010.

OLK Folder location on Outlook 2003 and Windows XPOLK Folder location for Windows 7 and Outlook 2010

It’s easy to track down your OLK folder as long as you follow the registry map outlined in the table above. For example, on my Windows 8.1 system running Microsoft Office 2016, I found the OLK temp folder at:

1 
C:\Users\Steve\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Outlook\A3EPPL7S\

Phew!

Background – What is the OLK folder, and why is it so hard to find?

When you open file attachments that are considered safe, Outlook places these attachments in a sub-directory in your Temporary Internet Files folder. As Outlook does this, it first examines the registry to determine if the OLK folder already exists. If yes, it drops the files into that folder.

If no, it creates one. When Outlook first copies attachments to a temporary file, it examines the registry to find the path for the TEMP OLK folder. If it doesn’t exist, it creates the registry with a random name then it creates the folder.

For example:

Let’s say your running Windows XP and Outlook 2003. When you open your first attachment, your computer will create the following sub-folder to store that attachment temporarily:

1 
C:\Documents and Settings\<var>username</var>\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK<var>xxx</var>

In this example, the name of the currently logged-in user would replace the username and the xxx is a randomly generated sequence of letters and numbers.

This information can be very useful. For example, let’s say you open an attachment, make a bunch of changes then close it before you have a chance to save it, or your PC crashes. The good news is you can probably find the file in the Outlook Temporary OLK folder and recover your work. Speaking of recovering your data, have you configured the Word and Excel autosave feature?

Now the bad news. Let’s say you open an attachment that contains sensitive or confidential information. While reading the document, Outlook unexpectedly closes. In this scenario, the attachment will remain in the Outlook Temporary folder indefinitely since Outlook normally deletes these files when you close the document correctly. Now let’s say your PC is lost or stolen. Yup, all your documents are just sitting there for anyone to open.

Don’t think this is very common? Just look. No really. Stop reading and look in your OLK folder. If you’ve been using your computer for any length of time, what you will find is a few dozen files sitting there for anyone with access to your system to open and read.

Protect yourself against the OLK folder

The first thing I always do with new installs of Windows and Microsoft Office is to encrypt the OLK folder using the built-in Microsoft file and folder encryption called EFS. It’s fast, easy and adds a nice layer of security should a corporate IT guy jump on my box or I accidentally lose my laptop, and I haven’t yet encrypted my drive. Now, if you’re using a home PC and don’t have IT guys managing your system, you’re probably okay with just Wiping your system if you sell it, or swap out your hard drive for a faster SSD drive.

Tags: client, encryption, howto, microsoft office, olk, outlook 2003, outlook 2007, security, temporary folder, outlook 2010

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169 Responses to Find the Microsoft Outlook Temporary OLK folder

  1. RickB August 21, 2007 at 1:59 pm #

    Exactly what I was looking for! Thank you very much. Keep the articles coming!

    • Ola September 13, 2011 at 6:28 am #

      This worked a treat.
      I opened regedit, did a search for OutlookSecureTempFolder, when found, right-clicked and selected modify, copied the path to the folder, pasted that into windows explorer, hit the enter button – takes you straight into folder.

      You have just saved someone from having to re-do a 2000 word doc.

      Many thanks for the tip

      • Barbara November 22, 2011 at 10:48 am #

        THANK YOU for posting this information. Each system upgrade has provided it’s challenges on getting back to temporary files. This very helpful information has saved me hours of work to recreate a document that others are waiting to receive.

        • Steve Krause July 4, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

          @b63999abad889dfdd6693ac5c73cf860:disqus
          you are very welcome. Welcome to the blog.

          • Carrie Smith March 19, 2013 at 8:45 am #

            I followed these instructions in attempt to recover edited Word document which had been attached to an e-mail but not closed without saving to harddrive. My laptop has Windows 7 home premium with Outlook 10. Under the registry editor, there is no “security” folder under the directory for 14.0, office. Any idea where else i can look to find temporary folder?

            Thanks.

            >>

      • Steve Krause July 4, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

        @fbeb24390148e2b6dc7e15cb659a553a:disqus I’m glad I could help! Welcome to groovyPost!

        • Simon H March 19, 2013 at 10:10 am #

          @ Carrie Smith
          Try this Carrie, it will find the OLK folder without the need for searching the registry.

          1. Choose an email that contains a JPG attachment, If you don’t have one then send an email from yourself to yourself with an JPG image file attached.
          2. Open the email and double click on the image file to open it in windows photo viewer.
          3. Right click on the image in windows photo viewer and choose open file location
          4. This opens the OLK Folder and you will be able to see the files it contains.
          5. Press Alt + up arrow to move up one folder (This displays the OLK folder).
          6. Right click the folder then drag and drop it onto your desktop. (You will get a message saying “These files might be harmful to your computer”).
          7. Click “OK” then choose create shortcut.

          Let me know if you have any problems

          Simon

          • Ivon June 27, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

            Same Issue. Worked great! Thanks!!

          • PIPO July 18, 2013 at 11:24 am #

            Simon – thank you, so much I have wasted hours and hours with Google searches trying out all sorts of solutions posted by good people with no success at finding the OLK folder.

            The JPG option took seconds and I found it!

            So grateful.

          • Darae March 18, 2015 at 4:47 am #

            Thank you so much!!! I could not open up my scanned documents (pdf) all of a sudden. I found the folder using the jpg suggestion, deleted quite alot of files and now they open up just fine. Thank you Thank you!!!

            Darae

          • Janine June 9, 2015 at 4:21 am #

            absolutely brilliant…. thankyou…

          • Umer September 28, 2015 at 1:52 am #

            Easiest way to find this folder, saved alot of time, Thanks alot dear!

          • Steve Krause September 28, 2015 at 10:42 am #

            You bet! Glad I was able to save ya some time. I know this has saved me dozens of times over the years! 😉

          • Rebecca October 9, 2015 at 1:54 am #

            Oh, BLESS YOU! I’d propose to you if I wasn’t spoken for!

            This halted my near panic attack in its tracks – so you’re my hero 🙂 Thank you much!

        • Chakra March 14, 2014 at 7:37 am #

          Thank you sir! You just gave me back 24 hours of my life.

      • Jason April 30, 2015 at 10:44 am #

        This was critical for me – couldn’t get to my file without this added bit.

    • Joanne November 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

      I had heart-stopping panic until I found this! Thank you so much for posting it!

    • Ali May 12, 2013 at 4:22 am #

      Hi under the instructions above I get as far as 14.0\outlook then in the outlook folder it just has auto discover I can’t find security anywhere. Can you help please?

  2. MrGroove August 22, 2007 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks for the feedback! I had to look for it a bit so I figured others would appreciate it. There’s also a little trick you can do to make the olk folder show up in Explorer. Just delete all the text in the desktop.ini file in the IE temp folder. Makes it easy to find later. I’ll post that How To one shortly.

  3. Lizaoreo October 12, 2007 at 8:33 am #

    There’s also a problem associated with this that we ran into recently. We had a user who wasn’t able to open a certain attachment and upon investigation I learned of this OLK temp folder. What had happened was there were 99 files already named like that and Outlook didn’t know what to do about it. Basically what happens is if you open a file that has the same name as another file in the OLK folder, it increments a number in parenthesis.

    IE.
    OutlookAttachement.doc
    OutlookAttachement.doc (1)

    Outlook Attchement.doc (99)

    The problem occurs when 99 files get there, after that it won’t create anymore and gives an error that can be painful to decipher, basically you need to delete everything in that folder every now and again.

    The error was something about the outlook temp folder and some rights issues.

  4. MrGroove October 14, 2007 at 12:33 pm #

    Welcome to the site Lizaoreo.
    Thanks for the additional information as well!

  5. MrGroove October 15, 2007 at 10:40 am #

    Lizaoreo, FYI – Based off your comment, I just wrote a new article on this very topic: https://www.groovypost.com/howto/microsoft/outlook/fix-outlook-cant-create-file-attachment-error/

    I’m fairly certain this is what you were referring to.?

  6. brad October 15, 2007 at 10:44 am #

    This is great information. Is there a way automate the deletion of this directory or a registry setting that limits the max size of this directory and after that it cleans itself up?

  7. JOHN January 10, 2008 at 11:16 pm #

    Thanks for your help. I found this months before and I opened an attachment yesterday but saved it without specifying a file location. I looked for the file that I changed, did a file search, reopened the attachment, but all my changes were gone. I found your website and found this hidden location and found my modified file. Thanks for your help.

  8. MrGroove January 11, 2008 at 8:35 am #

    Welcome to the site John!
    I’m glad the article was helpful!

  9. Paul February 26, 2008 at 3:36 pm #

    I have been having the same problem, but the issue is – that I cannot find the OLK folder to delete the contents…. Windows has hidden this pretty well. I can view other “hidden” folders – but can’t find this one…..

    Any suggestions??

    -Paul

  10. MrGroove February 26, 2008 at 7:18 pm #

    Hello Paul!
    Did you follow the map in the above post? Open RegEdit and follow the map and it should show you exactly where your OLK folder is hidden. Once you have that just Click “Start” -> “Run” and paste in the folder path and you shoudl have your OLK folder on the screen with all the files inside of it. If you still can’t find it, start a new discussion in our Forum and I can continue to help you troubleshoot the issue with screenshots etc… here:
    https://www.groovypost.com/forum/

  11. krazykuppy March 1, 2008 at 10:17 pm #

    hiya – i’m almost in tears because I”m in a the same situation with Outlook 2007. The problem is, I’m not quite as technically savvy as you guys, and I don’t know how to “open the windows registry using regedit32.exe and use the map’…. *sniff* can anyone explain it to me in lay terms?

  12. krazykuppy March 2, 2008 at 5:14 pm #

    Hey all

    Just to follow up from my last post, I wanted to share a different way to solve this problem.

    So, to recap for those just tuning in, when you open an attached file from an email in Outlook 2007 and then “save” it (thinking its going into a designated location on your hard drive – but its not), it does not save to the temporary OLK directory the same way that it did in Outlook 2003. After the initial panic when you realize it seems almost impossible to find the Outlook 2007 temporary file location, here is a super quick and very easy way to locate the file:

    1) Open Google Desktop and search for “content.outlook” on your desktop
    2) If you don’t have Google Desktop, install it from here: http://desktop.google.com/
    3) Once your search results come up, click on “Open Folder” underneath any email that comes up
    3) Casually view all of the files contained in the hidden temporary folder to find the file you thought you’d lost
    4) Listen to the angels singing “alleliuah” and smile knowing all is well in the world 🙂

    Good luck to everyone who experiences the initial terror of this glitch… know that there is hope!

    kk

  13. MrGroove March 5, 2008 at 10:00 am #

    @KrazyKuppy
    Hey there KK. Thank you for the post and WELCOME to the site!

    To answer your first question, just Click the typical “Start” -> “Run” in XP (or Click the Windows Start Button in Vista) and type in: “Regedit32”. This will open the registry. From there it should be easy to navigate to the proper registry location using the Map above in the article.

    That being said, I really “love” your suggestion above for Outlook 2007! Being that content.outlook is in the path of the hidden OLK folder, using google desktop search, windows desktop search or even Vista Search (As I did), once you pull up the content.outlook folder the hidden temporary folder should be staring you in the eyes. For instance, my folder is located here:
    C:\Users\mrGroove.groovypost\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\XLCYUT3R

    Thank you for the post and helping add to the community here at groovyPost.com!

  14. krazykuppy March 21, 2008 at 3:59 pm #

    Hey MrGroove – I’m glad you liked that google search idea. It comes in quite handy sometimes!
    kk

  15. Rob April 29, 2008 at 2:11 pm #

    There is another way to view where the OLK file is located. Open the attachment and do a “save file as.” It will show the path to the OLK folder before you save it. Click on the down arrow next to save in…viola!

    Rob Nanney
    Verizon Help Desk Technician (in the trenches)

  16. T1000 May 1, 2008 at 7:25 am #

    I just used this to find a “lost” paper that Outlook decided to save to that OLK no man’s land, this article saved me and my project group several hours of work! Not to mention huge demoralization. Thanks a lot!

  17. Dave May 22, 2008 at 12:53 pm #

    I have a workstation running Outlook 2003 in XP that would not display embedded images in email, but they would show up when you forwarded or replied it. For anyone else who has that problem, finding and deleting the contents of this folder will most likely fix it.

    However, I could not find it using the registry editor. Rob’s (post #15) method worked great to find the folder. Once I deleted everything inside of it; embedded images were once again visible!

  18. Julie June 4, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    My boss (no matter how many times I have told her) opened and worked on a word document through Outlook 2007. I could never find where those documents were being saved. I knew where to look in previous versions to find the temp files, but was pulling my hair out trying to find this one. I found this post and found her files. I am also putting this site in my favorites. I learned a lot today. Thank you very much.

  19. MrGroove June 5, 2008 at 11:42 am #

    @Dave & Julie

    First, Welcome to the site! I’m always really glad to hear when people enjoy the articles! Thank you for the feedback!

  20. pedram June 12, 2008 at 1:53 pm #

    easy batch file:

    REM This file opens the Outlook Temporary Folder.
    cd “%userprofile%\local settings\temporary internet files\”
    cd olk*
    explorer .

  21. tom June 13, 2008 at 8:49 am #

    Great thread. I consider myself generally tech savvy and have never had a problem locating the temp folder for Outlook attachments before (in Windows XP, but now I have Vista!). Before looking up this post, I was able to locate the folder by using the “save as” method and manually typing in the location. The question I still don’t see an answer to is why this folder does not show up even with the show hidden files option being chosen. I do not like the idea that there are folders which may contain sensitive data on my computer that I cannot see. It, of course, raises the specter of what other information is being hidden on my computer. I was at least aware that somewhere there had to be an Outlook temp folder. Is there any way to make these “double secret” hidden folders viewable? Has anyone tried to determine what information is being “hidden” in this manner. I don’t want to sound too paranoid but it upset me that Microsoft made this folder essentially unviewable except to those “in the know”.

  22. Adrian Nabarro June 17, 2008 at 3:39 am #

    Thanks for this – really helpful 🙂

  23. Tr. July 20, 2008 at 9:34 pm #

    Thanks a lot for the info. Here comes another problem I’ve been trying to resolve. I have Outlook 2007 on my PC and when I create new mail and attach photo file like .jpg or .tif, I just can’t open it to make sure I am attaching the right file before I send it. It shows error saying something like the file can’t be opened and also displays the whole string of the OLK folder. If anyone had run into this problem and successfully solved it, please help.

    Thanks a lot..

  24. db July 23, 2008 at 10:41 am #

    Is there a way to get the olk temp files to automatically delete instead of trying to manuelly delete them using the method mentions in this article?

    db

  25. Oliver July 24, 2008 at 10:30 am #

    Hi,

    Hope you can help. I use XP SP2 and office 2003. Each time I download or want to open a file in jpeg I get the error c:\windows\temporary internet file\olk12d Not a jpeg file.

    Do you know how to fix this as I cannot open any jpeg files
    thanks in adv
    Oliver

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