Quick solution to “Cannot send this item” problem in Outlook

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Posted by Elif Varol | Posted in E-resources, Library, software | Posted on March 14, 2014

I recently came across a problem on Microsoft Outlook  (2010) when I was about to send an email with instructions including the screenshots.

As soon as I hit the “Send” button, I had an error message saying  “Cannot send this item“. Outlook didn’t give me any explanation as to why or suggest a resolution.

First, I thought the size of the email may be too big because of the screenshots but it seems, this wasn’t the case.

After a quick search, I have found out there is a nifty solution to it.

All you need to do is to go to the Format Text menu at the top and choose “Rich Text” in the Format category.

Update: For those who are using a different version, Eileen Cannon kindly shared the instructions below for Microsoft Outlook 2007.

“For Outlook 2007 users, open the Options ribbon, and choose “Rich Text” in the Format box. The “Format Text” ribbon does not contain the HTML, Plain Text, and Rich Text options”

 

Comments (71)

Hi,i am using outlook 2010 how to i fix this problem outlook cannot send this item.if i change to richtext it will be working?

Hi,
This blog post is indeed for Outlook 2010. Have you tried following the instructions?

It should work up to Outlook 2016 as I am using it now, and in my case, I changed it from Rich Text to HTML and the email was sent successfully.

This has happened a number of times for one particular employee of ours. We have swapped his machine which a freshly imaged one but it would seem to return, very frustrating!!…

After another machine replacement today I finally discovered the issue (for our environment anyway), and confirmed I could reproduce it in Outlook 2010 on my own machine.

In Outlook, File ==> Options ==> Mail, then second section from the bottom (Message Format): ensure that “Reduce message size by removing format information not necessary to display the message” is ENABLED.

Seems he was turning off this setting each time after we gave him a new machine! I’ve had a quick look online but I don’t believe I have come across this as a fix, so hopefully it will help someone else 🙂

I just had this happen to me for the first time. I tried RTF and instead of getting an error, the email just refused to send. The button to send would click but pop right back up and the email just stayed there.

So I just copied the entire body of the email and pasted it into a new message, copied the recipients and pasted those as well, and clicked send on that one and it went just fine.

I didn’t have any attachments. One small company logo in the signature as I always have in the thousands of emails I’ve sent every year. But for some reason this one email just refused to send. Yet a complete copy/paste into a new email sent just fine.

I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason to this error except maybe the machine was just getting tired of being ordered around and chose to stand its ground for a change. The error would probably be more accutate if it said “Outlook doesn’t want to send this right now.”

Thanks for your input. You are right, I think it was having a bad mood and decided to go on a strike for a moment 🙂

I just had this happen to me for the first time. I tried RTF and instead of getting an error, the email just refused to send. The button to send would click but pop right back up and the email just stayed there.

So I just copied the entire body of the email and pasted it into a new message, copied the recipients and pasted those as well, and clicked send on that one and it went just fine.

I didn’t have any attachments. One small company logo in the signature as I always have in the thousands of emails I’ve sent every year. But for some reason this one email just refused to send. Yet a complete copy/paste into a new email sent just fine.

I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason to this error except maybe the machine was just getting tired of being ordered around and chose to stand its ground for a change. The error would probably be more accutate if it said “Outlook doesn’t want to send this right now.”

I just had this happen to me for the first time. I tried RTF and instead of getting an error, the email just refused to send. The button to send would click but pop right back up and the email just stayed there.

So I just copied the entire body of the email and pasted it into a new message, copied the recipients and pasted those as well, and clicked send on that one and it went just fine.

I didn’t have any attachments. One small company logo in the signature as I always have in the thousands of emails I’ve sent every year. But for some reason this one email just refused to send. Yet a complete copy/paste into a new email sent just fine.

I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason to this error except maybe the machine was just getting tired of being ordered around and chose to stand its ground for a change.

Such a small issue and I was struggling for long.
Perfect solution.
Thank you VERY MUCH ELIF

You are most welcome Anand. Thanks a lot for letting me know.

Also works in Outlook 2016, thanks Elif for sharing!

You are most welcome Henk. Thanks a lot for your input; good to know this fix works on 2016 version as well.

Thanks a lot

Fix applied – problem solved. Thank you!

Your are welcome, thanks for letting me know. Glad to know that this fix still works.

This issue came up this morning. The problem was one of our users moved to a different workstation and didn’t have their signature (email). They copied it out of a sent email and saved their signature locally. I am assuming that the formatting from the copied signature was corrupt, thus making outlook unable to send emails out. Once the signature was copied properly, all worked again.

Thanks for your input. It is good to bear the signature issue in mind.

This problem (“Cannot send item”) happened for me when I tried forwarding an email to someone that contained a .png image file (only 2MB) and I put a screenshotted image into the body of the email of my own as well. I think that was the issue, for whatever reason. I think Outlook should be able to handle something like this… I tried doing the whole “Rich Text” thing, but that didn’t work. Gave me a different error.
But anyway, when I tried just forwarding the email with the attached 2MB image with a message without adding a screenshot of my own to it, it sent just fine. Then I composed a brand new email with a message and my screenshot and it sent just fine.
It would be really nice if the error message explained what the root of the problem was. Or at least something other than “error”–something that can give a clue as to what I need to do to troubleshoot.

I used Microsoft 2007, by the way.

Sorry for the late reply Faith,

thanks for your input, it is very useful to know.

I agree with you; error message should be more explanatory as to what the actual problem is.

I would have thought Outlook should be able to handle 2MB attachment and a screenshot but it seems this is not the case.

There is a new update on the solution that Sandy kindly shared with us as a comment. Direct link to the comment is:
http://lncn.eu/agt6

Tried this idea and received a different error message, gave up hit CTRL A copied and pasted message to new email entered the email addressee’s and subject again and hit send went through without any problems. This is the only way I can combat the problem when it throws this sissy fit

This solution did not work for us. A few of our end-users still receive the cannot send item or operation failed, when they attempt to reply or forward an email message. We have tried a repair of Outlook, recreating the Outlook profile, no signature when applying, as well as switching from html to rich text.

Any other ideas that I may have missed?

Hi Sandy,

Thanks for letting us know.

I personally haven’t tried another solution but I have done a quick search and found couple of links that may be helpful.

I think one of the link belongs to Adam Fowler who provided the link to his post as a comment sometime ago.

http://lncn.eu/jw69
http://lncn.eu/acpq

I hope this helps.

Thank you for the quick response, Elif! We have tried Adam’s suggestions, but it did not seem to make a difference for us. Do you know if this issue has been reported for Exchange 2010/Outlook 2013?

Thanks again!

You are welcome Sandy. I am sorry that none of the suggestions worked for you. It must be frustrating.
I am not sure if this issue has been reported.
I do hope you find a solution that resolves this issue.

Just a quick update, we found the solution! We are utilizing the CAS array on our Barracudas 340 load balancers, and there was a timeout setting which resulted in the soft disconnects at the Outlook client level. Once we removed the timeout (basically set to never timeout), the issue was resolved. Thank you for the assistance and I hope this info is helpful to others.

Thanks a lot for letting us know Sandy. I am really glad you have found a solution and shared with us. It will be very helpful to those whom tried other solutions and had no success.

For those who are not technical enough like myself hopefuly can get help from their IT department to tweak the settings to remove the timeout.

Have a great day.

PS.I have emailed you however it may have gone to the spam folder which occasionally happens to be the case.

it is a corrupted signature issue
Do you have an image on your signature? I fixed my problem by removing the image on the email signature.

Many thanks for your comment. I do not have an image on my signature but I will keep this in mind in case if it crops up again. Also, I have mentioned it to one of the commenters that the fix I suggested did not work for him.

The suggestion to remove the signature image worked for my issue at my company. It was in the PSA advisory on “consider the environment before printing” – once I removed that line and the image, no more issues. Thank you!

Rich text worked for me, thank you. Our email signature contains an image but we have never had this problem before. I had replied to another company’s email that also contained an image in the signature, so possibly the problem lies with the original email.

This solution does not work

Hello Jime,

Sorry that the solution did not work for you. If you look at the last comment left by Od you might be able to get it worked. Od states:

“it is a corrupted signature issue
Do you have an image on your signature? I fixed my problem by removing the image on the email signature.”

I hope this helps.

Jime, there is an update from Sandy on the link below. Hope it helps you to resolve the issue.

http://lncn.eu/agt6

The solution didn’t work for me. Any updates?

Unfortunately, I do not have another solution however, if you look at the last comment left by Od you might be able to get it worked. Od states:

“it is a corrupted signature issue
Do you have an image on your signature? I fixed my problem by removing the image on the email signature.”

Hope it works.

I actually have the exact opposite problem. I get that error with my format set to Rich Text and have to change the format to HTML. This is annoying because I have situations where I want the attachments to be in-line with the text in the body of the message, which can only be done using Rich Text.

Hello Cory,
I have a new update provided by Sandy which might help you. The direct link to Sandy’s comment is

http://lncn.eu/agt6

Hope it helps.

[…] of reasons that can cause this error. Often, the ‘solution’ is to change the email from HTML to Rich Text or Plain Text, and move on. Or, copy/paste the entire email into a new email and move on. Neither of these are […]

Although this works, I don’t see it as a fix, more a workaround. Does anyone know why it happens or what Microsft are doing to fix the bug?

Thank you for your fix. this was the first time I encountered the “Cannot send this item” message. I was replying to an email that had a lot of text and screenshots in it.
Your advice to send the email as Rich Text was the perfect solution for me. To your instructions I add: For Outlook 2007 users, open the Options ribbon, and choose “Rich Text” in the Format box.
The “Format Text” ribbon does not contain the HTML, Plain Text, and Rich Text options. Oh, Microsoft! sigh…

Thanks ever so much for your input Eileen, very kind of you. I have added them to the post and quoted you, I hope it is OK.

Just had an issue sending email with 12 pdf file attached. But got the message denying and says, “Cannot Sent this item” with no reason.
But found the answer here, selected to Plain Text and clicked on send. It went right away like a very obedient guy.
Thanks for solution.

Great to know that the solution has worked for you as well. Thanks for the comment.

Worked for me too! Very grateful, thanks for sharing…

You are most welcome and thanks for your comment Allan.

In my case there was a temporary network issue and that’s where the attached file was. Closed the email, made sure I could access the network drive and the file, then created another email and it went. If the network drive isn’t there, try rebooting.

Thanks for the input DA. Glad that what you tried, worked too.

It works!! Thanks so much!! 😀

I am glad to know that, you are welcome.

Yay it worked! Thanks so much for sharing.

You are most welcome. It is a pleasure to help out.

Didn’t work for me…

I am sorry that this solution didn’t work for you. I hope you find a way around.

Hello Simon,

I am not sure if you are still having problems but since your comment, there has been various suggestions which may be helpful. Please let me know if you are having problems accessing comments to see the suggestions.

Thanks for this post…So glad when the top result on Google is actually helpful!

You are most welcome. Judging by the number of the comments left, quite few of us were were having this problem. Really glad that the post has helped. Nice to know that it came at the top of the Google results. Thanks for your comment.

I chose the rich text suggestion, found that my attachment was now located in the body of the mail, and went back to HTML so that the attachment showed just beneath the subject, and Voila! my mail sent 🙂

Glad to know that, thanks for your comment 🙂

Thanks so much. FIXED IT! I switched back to HTML to check and the problem reappeared. #sograteful

You are most welcome. Thanks for leaving a comment.

Hey, this fix is still working! Well done, again

Thanks for posting , a great help 😉

You are welcome, glad that it helped. 🙂

A third vote of thanks for sharing this. I was baffled and was about to go down the attachment size route until I found this.

Many thanks all… I am glad that the post was of a help.

Very good. Solved. Cheers.

Perfect – solved my problem.
Thanks for sharing this information, top result on Google for my query! Great stuff.

You are most welcome Paul. Thanks for leaving a comment and letting me know that the solution still works.

Thanks a lot for letting me know Afif. I appreciate your input.

That is very useful to know Clint. Thanks a lot for letting us know, you probably saved a number of people from spending ages to solve this recurring problem. It is very rewarding to solve a frustrating, nagging problem, isn’t it? Congratulations for discovering what is causing it. Have a great rest of the week. 🙂

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