Outlook PST in Use and Cannot be Accessed – Error Fixed

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You may have encountered a situation when you try to perform an action on a file, and a pop-up message appears stating, ‘Outlook.pst is in use and cannot be accessed.’ If you are dealing with the same, you have landed on the right page. We explain how to fix this issue easily.

Fix Outlook Issue Yourself, or have DRS Softech do it for you!

Download the best DRS PST Recovery Tool to repair and recover highly corrupted Outlook PST file and get rid of “Outlook PST is in use and cannot be accessed” error.


MS Outlook is widely used in organizations as it offers numerous features like multiple email account management, contacts, calendars, etc. It is the proprietary email client of Microsoft which is also available on the cloud Office 365 platform.

Whenever you backup your Outlook mailbox items, the data will get saved as a PST file which you can access through Outlook. However, on accessing the PST file, you get a pop-up stating, ‘Outlook PST is in use and cannot be accessed.’

Outlook.pst is in Use and cannot be Accessed

What Does the Error Mean?

The error “Outlook PST in Use and Cannot be Accessed” message means that the PST file you are trying to access is already open in MS Outlook. As you cannot perform any operation on the PST file in use, the system shows the error message. You need to close the application first then try to access the desired operation on the file.

Reasons for Outlook .pst is in Use and cannot be Accessed Issue

As mentioned, the main cause of the ‘Outlook data file is in use and cannot be accessed’ error message is that the file is accessed by some other application at the same time. However, there are various reasons for the problem. Below we are showing you some other prominent causes.

  • Your system may be subjected to virus or malware attacks.
  • The sudden or inappropriate shutdown of your PC.
  • The application that uses the file is running in the background.
  • Corruption of your Outlook Profile or PST file.

It may be possible that you are facing the ‘Outlook PST cannot be opened’ problem due to multiple reasons at the time. So, it is time to learn the methods to resolve the issue.

How to Fix Outlook PST is in Use and Cannot Be Accessed Problem

Depending upon the reasons for the error message, you can fix the error message by various techniques. The following steps are considered most suitable in resolving Outlook.pst is in use and cannot be accessed.

#1. Close Outlook Application by Task Manager

  • Right-click on the Taskbar and select Start Task Manager.

start task manager

  • Search for Outlook, Communicator, Lync, and UCMAPI.
  • Select any of these processes and click on the End Process
  • Repeat this step for all the other running processes.

#2. Disable Outlook Add-Ins

Sometimes the ‘Outlook data file cannot be accessed’ issue occurs due to faulty add-ins. So, you have to disable them.

  • Press Win+R to open the Run command dialogue box.
  • Type Outlook /safe in the file and press OK.

Outlook / safe

  • It will open Outlook in safe mode.
  • Now, click on the File button and select the Options tab.
  • In the Outlook Options wizard, choose the Add-ins tab.
  • After that, click on the Go button beside the Manage option.
  • Untick all the enabled add-ins and press the OK button.
  • If the problem is resolved then enable all add-ins one by one to identify the faulty add-in.
  • After finding the trouble-causing add-in, disable it to fix the problem.

#3. Repair Corrupt Outlook PST file

When the ‘Outlook.pst is in use and cannot be accessed’ problem occurs due to a damaged Outlook data file, you have to repair the file to resolve the error message.

  • Open File Explorer and go to the following locations.

32-bit Windows – C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\

64-bit Windows – C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\

64-bit Outlook – C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\

  • Now, select the exe and launch the application.
  • Click on the Browse button and choose the desired Outlook data file.
  • After that, press the Start button to initialize the scan.
  • Next, click on the Repair button to repair the damaged data file.
  • At last, press the OK button to close the pop-up stating Repair Complete.

The scanpst.exe is an inbuilt tool provided with Microsoft Outlook to repair Outlook data files. It is suitable to fix minor PST corruptions but this inbuilt application can not recover data from a heavily corrupted file. You need professional software to fix high levels of corruption and resolve the ‘Outlook is in use and cannot be accessed’ error.

Pro Method to Fix Outlook Data File is in Use and Cannot be Accessed

When the ‘Outlook PST cannot be accessed’ error message appears due to a damaged PST file and, scanpst.exe fails to recover the file, DRS PST Recovery Tool is an excellent utility to serve the purpose. It is a better alternative to the inbuilt SCANPST.exe because of its advanced features and simplicity. The software has an interactive user interface such that both novice and expert users can easily use the application.


After reading this article, you surely learn how to fix the ’Outlook.pst is in use and cannot be accessed’ error message. Based on different reasons, there are multiple techniques to resolve the problem. If the error occurs due to a corrupted data file, the most suitable approach is to use the professional PST recovery tool.

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