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A Guide on How to Solve Outlook Error: "Outlook PST in use and cannot be accessed"

Most of you are already aware that Outlook consists of OST and PST files. These files store the entire mailbox data such as Notes, Journals, Calendar, Inbox, Calendar, Contacts, and etc. PST (Personal Storage Table) files are created by the user when they set up their email account profile on the operating system. However, PST files can get corrupt or inaccessible due to several reasons. It is advisable that the users should be well-equipped with the knowledge of the reasons behind the errors and how can they resolve the issue at the earliest. In this blog, we will discuss the reasons behind the error, "Outlook PST in use and cannot be accessed" and how can they fix it.

List of the Reasons behind the Error

Most of you must have got a message on your screen, "Outlook.pst is in use and cannot be accessed. Close any application that is running in the background, and then try again. You might need to restart your computer". Most of the users make a common mistake of thinking that their PST files are being used by other applications and exit Outlook, however, it will not resolve the error by restarting your system or shutting down Outlook. Let us find out what triggers the errors:

  • Faulty Add-ins
  • Improper shutting of Outlook
  • When a backup Outlook PST file runs in the background
  • Severe corruption of PST file
  • Anti-virus software's hinders in accessing PST files

Different Ways to Solve Outlook Error: "Outlook PST in use and cannot be accessed"

The user can fix the error, "Outlook PST in use and cannot be accessed" by using several methods. We have compiled a list of some of the methods to fix the Outlook error so let us find out:

  • Examine if Outlook or any other related processes are running in the background. Exit it by executing the below-mentioned steps:
    • Open 'Task Manager' from the 'menu' option.
    • Click on 'Processes'.
    • Select Lync, Communicator, UCMAPI' and Outlook and exit.
    • Now, exit from the 'Task Manager'.
    • Restart Outlook.
  • Another way to resolve the Outlook error is by running Outlook in 'Safe Mode' via "outlook.exe / safe" option. If by using this method, you are able to rectify the error, then the reason behind the error was due to faulty add-ins. You need to disable add-ins at once and start Outlook. Then, enable all the add-ins to find out the damaged one.
  • Another effective way to resolve any minor Outlook error is by using Microsft inbuilt 'Inbox Repair Tool'.

If none of the above-mentioned methods was successful in resolving the error, "Outlook PST in use and cannot be accessed", then we highly suggest you opt a third-party tool. Make certain that you go for a reliable and professional PST Recovery Software. Go for KDETools PST Recovery tool as it can recover orphaned, highly-encrypted, corrupt, and damaged PST files without losing even a single file.

Steps to Fix the Error "Outlook PST in use and cannot be accessed" Via KDETools PST Recovery Tool

  • Download Install and Run KDETools PST Recovery software on your operating system.
  • Click on the 'Open' option.
  • Select the PST files that you wish to repair.
  • Now, the scanning process will start.
  • Click on the 'Preview' option to preview the PST files.
  • Browse the files at the location you want to save.
  • Click on the 'Split' option to split the files depending on your requirement.
  • Click on the 'Message Filtration' tab to select files from a specific date.
  • Click on the 'Convert' button.

The above are the steps that will help the user to repair PST files by using KDETools PST Recovery tool. By following the above-mentioned steps, a user can fix major and minor issues without losing a single file. Opt for automated software over the manual method as it is the right choice.


Resolving the error, "Outlook PST in use and cannot be accessed" can be a difficult task, however, with a little guidance, the user can easily rectify the error. Avoid using the manual method as it is not reliable and the user might erase the entire data. Go for automated software to retrieve the files without losing any file.

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