Pop Quiz Solution: How to remove phantom unread messages from an Outlook folder

We had an Outlook 98 inbox that appeared to contain an unread message, and after a bit of head scratching and some help from a Microsoft KnowledgeBase article, we made the phantom message indicator disappear. We awarded a TechRepublic T-shirt to one lucky reader.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a solution to this pop quiz. Several of you submitted the correct solution, and we put all of those names in the hat and selected one name at random. Congratulations to our latest TechRepublic T-shirt winner, Tony Hogan!

The situation:
Here at TechRepublic, we run Outlook 98 under Exchange Server 5.5. As a community editor, I have access to a shared inbox called Support, which houses all the e-mail addressed to “” My manager (and anybody else who requests it) has access to this mailbox.

The weird thing about this mailbox is that it always looks like it contains one unread message. The problem is that, as far as I could tell, this inbox doesn’t contain any unread messages.

The challenge:
So why does Outlook 98 think the inbox contains an unread message, and what can be done to correct the display in the Folder List?

The solution:
I tried many of the tricks you suggested. I selected all of the messages and marked them as unread. I made sure there were no filters being applied to that inbox. I moved all of the messages to a personal folder. Even when there were apparently zero messages in the Support inbox, the Folder List view showed one unread. But I did all of those things when I was logged in with the user profile that made my personal inbox the primary account.

Many of you pointed me to the Microsoft Knowledge Base article 181583. That article suggests that the culprit—the thing causing the phantom message—is one that’s been sent marked as “private.” The resolution Microsoft suggests is not to mark as “private” any messages going into a shared inbox (duh!).

The other suggested resolution was to create a separate profile using only the shared mailbox. Presumably, you’d log in under that profile and finally be able to see which message was still unread.

TechRepublic’s Exchange administrator set up a separate profile for me, and I selected the “JeffinSupport” option as shown in Figure A. When I logged in with that profile, the only inbox I could see was the Support inbox—the one that’s shared by other users.

Figure A
To eliminate the phantom messages in the Support inbox, I had to log in with that account as the primary inbox.

Follow this link to search Microsoft’s KnowledgeBase .
Here’s the rub. I scoured the whole inbox looking for an unread message and never found one. “So much for the private message theory,” I mused. Then I decided to try something that had failed when I was logged in with my own profile.

I selected all of the messages in the Support inbox, right-clicked, and selected the Mark as Read option. Lo and behold, it worked! The phantom unread message indicator disappeared from the Folder List view.

Was there ever a message marked as “private” as the KnowledgeBase article suggested? I never saw one, but at least I got rid of that annoying unread counter.
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