Why User Cannot Open MSG File in Outlook?

cannot open msg file in outlook

MS Outlook being one of the common desktop email client used by several organizations, its users are aware of the data files associated with it. The PST, OST or MSG files are the files that users can open using Outlook. The MSG is a file extension for single mail message format used by Outlook and Exchange. MSG files are mostly used for the purpose of archiving, storing, or sharing some important mails to other users of Outlook.

However, in many cases user encounters issue while opening the MSG files in Outlook that comes with the error message displaying “Cannot open MSG file”. The page will be discussing about the same error, its causes, and the solution to overcome the issue.

Possible Reasons Why User Cannot Open MSG File

There are several causes why user cannot open MSG file in Outlook, which are as follows:

  • User may face issue while opening the MSG file that is already opened
  • It is also possible that user does not rights or permission to access it
  • Opening the MSG file created by the message stored in Unicode format & using Outlook 2002/XP or earlier versions to open it
  • After opening the MSG file, Outlook keeps a lock on that file, even after closing the file. Closing Outlook will only release the lock, not on closing the MSG file.

How to Troubleshoot – Cannot open MSG file in Outlook

Many solutions can be helpful to overcome the issue faced by user that restricts opening of MSG file in Outlook. One of the approaches is stated below:

To open the MSG file generated by new Unicode file format message in older versions of MS Outlook

In order to open the MSG File, you can ask the sender to resend the MSG file again after saving it in ANSI format before sending it to you.

Step involved to troubleshoot the error are:

To change the default msg-format from Unicode to ANSI format, we must drag and drop an email out of Outlook into an Explorer folder and change the following settings as below

For doing so follow the below-mentioned procedure:

  • Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007
    • Go to Tools -> Options -> Tab Other -> Advanced Options button -> Disable Option: Use Unicode Message Format when saving messages

  • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
    • Go to File -> Options -> Mail -> Section -> save Messages -> Disable Option: Use Unicode Format

While saving the file, change the type from Unicode (*.msg) to (*.msg) by going to File -> Save as -> “Save as type” drop down list from “Outlook Message Format-Unicode (*.msg) to Outlook Message Format (*.msg)”.

The issue when user cannot open saved MSG files can sometimes by resolved by rebooting the PC and restarting the Outlook.


The blog has been discussing about the common error faced by the Outlook user when they are not able to open the MSG Files. The possible causes of this error have been described along with one of the solution. When user cannot open the MSG file, associated with the new Unicode format message in older versions of Outlook that supports ANSI format the user can change the Outlook message format from Unicode MSG to MSG file

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