“Unknown error” in Windows Live Mail

I don’t know if it’s my anti-virus getting a grip onvirus ridden e-mails, but I am getting a lot of “unknown error” messages in Windows Live Mail when I try to delete or move to junk, spam mails with attachments.

I was somewhat frustrated by this, as it leaves my inbox littered with junk… I have however found a solution by accident which works, so thought I’d pass it on!

Solution: Simply right click on the mail in question and select properties…. yes, you’ll get another error message (“The properties of this message could not be displayed”)… BUT, if you now try to delete, or move the mail to junk, it WILL work!

Assumption of the situation: I assume the issue is that the mails in question have viruses (I assume this), and that my virus scanner is grabbing them and deleting or quaratining the .eml file behind the mail (I certainly do get a virus found message when replicating such mails). Windows Live Mail is probably therefore screaming because it has the mail in its index, but can’t find the .eml in the file system to remove as part of the delete or move. The selection of properties (again, I assume) must create a placeholder .eml or other reference that allows the original move or delete function to happily perform against that mail.

Hope that proves handy to someone!


I'm passionate about technology, and particularly helping people make the most of it. I've spent the last 30 years helping others make the most of technology. My career started in IBM, but I choose to move into smaller business environments, to use a breadth of skills, and help businesses step change their IT services. My skills range from user based technology, through business systems (applications) to infrastructure. I also have a long background in IT security. I focus on what I consider to be "productive technology", i.e. adding genuine value to peoples lives. I'm not a big gamer, and don't hold much interest in what I consider to be disposable consumer technologies. During the day, you'll find me consulting with businesses or heading up an IT department. At the weekend, you'll find me sat at my Linux PC, writing PHP or Python code, or trying to help others on Twitter, this blog, or my YouTube channel: Artexic.

5 thoughts on ““Unknown error” in Windows Live Mail

  • 28th May 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks for the advice. It worked for me, got several emails that are stuck, I doubt very much if they have viruses, but anyway now I can delete them

  • 30th December 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you for this simple solution that works beautifully. There are many long, complicated and intricate solutions offered on various sites, but this one is elegant, understandable and quick, and most importantly, it works! Thank you so much!

  • 20th February 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks, worked perfectly.

  • 18th July 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Worked like a charm.

  • 16th November 2012 at 1:58 am

    Had same problem.My problem was self inflicted. I selected all messages then delete. But before it finished my power went out. I had expert fix mine through remote access. But he told me sometimes antivirus program causes the same problem.So if you delete all messages at once with windows live mail,don’t interrupt it before it finishes.

Comments are closed.