Recently one of our clients was having problems viewing an image that was embedded (not a linked image) into an email. Other recipients of this same email and the image would display correctly. Where the image should have appeared, there was simply an outline of where the image should appear with a red X in the upper left hand corner of the image blank. After checking to make sure the Outlook security settings were configured to display images in emails, I discovered that the little known (and invisible) OutlookSecureTempFolder was ‘full’ and that by emptying it out, images would display correctly in the emails. Here’s the nitty-gritty of what was happening: [more]

When you open attachments/images directly from an email (as opposed to saving the attachments to another location then opening them from that location) within Outlook, a copy is written to a temporary folder referred to as the OutlookSecureTempFolder. This particular user’s folder was ‘full’ (although she still had plenty of disk space.)  The trick is that to regular users this folder is invisible (even if you’ve enabled the “Show Hidden Files and Folders” setting) and its name is randomly generated. In Outlook 2007 that randomly named directory resides by default at:

In Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\ XXXXXXXX, where XXXXXXXX can be any random characters.

In Vista:
C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\XXXXXXXX,  where XXXXXXXX can be any random characters.

To find (and change if you like) the location of this randomly generated folder path, look in the registry at: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Security\OutlookSecureTempFolder

Once you find that directory, you can simply type the path directly into Windows  explorer, delete the temp files that are there, and your emails will now begin to display images. Now you can see all of those oh-so-wonderful image-laden forwards that your grandmother sends you!  If you want to bump up your security and avoid this problem at the same time then take a look at our recommendation of automatically deleting Temporary Internet Files when you logoff/shutdown in a previous post.