The following scenario is a very common problem. It's often caused by upgrading Outlook and not making a new profile. It generally means the profile is corrupt and although it's usually best to create a new profile (especially if you upgraded), you can try to rescue the old profile. While it's easy to screw up the profile, which will force you to make a new one, if the ghost PST has a unique name (as opposed to being a duplicate of your personal folders), the chances of success are greatly increased.
I have an archive pst that I'd like to right-click/close in Outlook. I get "the operation failed. An object could not be found" error message. I also get the error clicking on the properties/advanced button. I also had this error in OL2002, and I upgraded to OL2003, hoping it might get resolved. Any ideas on how to close it?
For starters, upgrading rarely fixes profile problems and this is definitely a profile problem. Uninstalling and reinstalling or using Detect and Repair rarely help either as they don't touch the profile or user files that often cause problems.
If creating a new profile is not a desired option try Remove Ghost PSTs: Michal's Method. If this fails, you can try to remove the ghost entry from the registry. Note that unless you have a number of email accounts to recreate, it's better to create a new profile because this usually indicates other problems with your profile.
See below for addins that may be able to remove the ghosts from your profile.
Keep in mind that editing the profile in the registry is at your own risk. Fortunately, provided you touch only keys within the profile key, the worst you'll do is screw up the profile and need to make a new one. You won't render Windows inoperable.
Open the Registry editor (Start menu, Run, type regedit)
Find your profile. If you use outlook 2010 or older, it's under Windows Messaging Subsystem. In Windows 2000/XP/Vista, Windows 7 or 8, this is at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles.
In Windows 9x/ME, look for it at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles
If you use Outlook 2013, the profile key is at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\Profiles.
Each PST has two registry keys. Ghost psts only have one. You need to find and delete that key to remove it from the profile. As I said earlier, if the pst has a unique name, you can easily locate the one key, but when it's a ghost of your default pst, you have to guess and if you guess wrong, you'll need a new profile.
Press F3 and search for the display name of the ghost – this is the name you see in your folder tree. In Outlook 2003 and 2007, the PST name is stored in binary format so you'll need to search for 001e3001 and double click on the value to look for the PST name. If the ghost is not a duplicate of another folder, you can delete the key (on the left side) when you find the name. Otherwise, identify all of the keys that are associated with the PST before deciding which one to delete.
In this example, I would delete 26ecffdbb60a9245b939a5d5d05c144e from the left side if the ghost pst was unique and not a duplicate.
Identify Duplicate Ghosts
If the ghost folder is a duplicate, you need to locate all of the keys for that folder name and determine which one belongs to the ghost..
The valid pst will have two keys, with entries similar to the following screenshots, where the value in 001e3001 is the PST name. In Outlook 2007, the PST name is stored in binary format so you'll need to search for 001e3001 and double click on the value to look for the PST name. The file path is stored in binary format in 01020fff.
The ghost will have just one key. After you find all three keys, delete the one that is duplicated. Usually, the "good" keys are close to each other, with the values shown in the first screen shot listed before the ones in the second screen shot. Take a guess at which duplicated key belongs to the ghost. If you're wrong, the worst that will happen is you'll need to make a new profile.
Archive PSTs in Outlook 2003
If your ghost is the archive pst in Outlook 2003, it may be harder to remove, although I haven't yet seen a duplicate archive pst so I don't know which keys the duplicate uses.
I do know valid archive pst's are not added in the same manner as other psts – the display name is hidden in the value 001f3001 on the right side of the screen for the first key. The second key is a subkey under the key near the middle or bottom with the + sign beside it. Click the + to expand the keys and look at the Account Name values under each subkey for the name of the archive pst name.
Next page >> Remove Ghost PSTs: Michal's Method.
The following add-ins are available to clean the ghost psts from your profile.
Last reviewed on January 8, 2014.