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How to delete corrupted hidden Exchange inbox rules using MFCMAPI

One of our user’s reports that he experiencing a strange phenomenon when he connects to his Exchange mailbox: Mail item that sent from the recipient automatically sent to a specific folder instead of the inbox folder, E-mail is automatically forwarded to another recipient and so on. In some scenarios, the problem could be related to corrupted hidden Exchange inbox rule. In the current article, we review how can we locate such inbox rule using the MFCMAPI tool and delete it.

Technically speaking, there are a couple of optional causes to this issue such as – a problematic mobile device mail client, third party Outlook add-on or Outlook plugin and so on.

We suspect that an inbox rule causes this strange behavior that the user created.
We check the existing inbox rules, and surprisingly; we discover that there is no current inbox rule or that the current inbox rule does relate to the particular issue that the user experience.

The other option that I would like to review in the current article is – the possibility of corrupted, hidden inbox rules.

The phenomenon of “corrupted hidden inbox rules” is not an ordinary scenario, but, in some case, after we have exhausted all possibilities, we need to consider this option.

The main characters of the “corrupted hidden inbox rules” is that, for some reason, the inbox rule doesn’t appear in the standard Outlook \OWA graphic interface.
To be able to verify if we are dealing with a scenario of a “problematic inbox rule” (corrupted hidden inbox rules), and to delete this inbox rule, we will need to use a very powerful and
a useful tool named – MFCMAPI.

Using the MFCMAPI utility, we can see the “under the hood” of an Exchange mailbox.
The MFCMAPI enables us to view the physical structure of the Exchange mailbox and the mailbox mail items.

Delete corrupted hidden Exchange inbox rules using MFCMAPI | The troubleshooting planned scheme.

As mentioned, in our scenario Exchange user experience “strange behavior,” and we suspect that the issue may be related to existing “corrupted hidden inbox rules.”

In some scenarios, the user has an existing inbox rule that can be seen via the Outlook \OWA graphic interface.

When using the MFCMAPI tool to view the content of the user mailbox, we will not be able to differentiate between a “legitimate inbox rule” vs. “corrupted hidden inbox rules.”
To be able to “isolate” the corrupted hidden inbox rule.” We will need to implement the following steps:

  1. Back up all the existing inbox rules.
  2. Manually delete all the existing inbox rules by using the Outlook \OWA interface or the MFCMAPI tool.
  3. Use the MFCMAPI tool by searching for corrupted hidden inbox rules” and if we find such as inbox rule\s, delete these rules.
  4. Restore the “original inbox rules” from the backup to – the user mailbox.

In case that you need more information about the process of export-import inbox rule, you can read the following article – Import or export a set of rules.

Using MFCMAPI for delete corrupted, hidden Exchange inbox rules.

MFCMAPI and Outlook mail profile

The MFCMAPI tool uses existing Outlook mail profile that already configured on the particular desktop form which we use the MFCMAPI.

In other words – to be able to use the MFCMAPI tool for examining the structure of a particular Exchange mailbox, we will need to have the specific user credentials and configure the Outlook mail profile for the specific Exchange recipient.

  • Download the MFCMAPI tool using the following link MFCMAPI
Download the MFCMAPI tool

MFCMAPI implemented as EXE file; there no need to “install” the MFCMAPI

  • Click on the MFCMAPI executable file
  • Click OK on the welcome screen
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  • Select the Session menu
  • Select the Logon… menu
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In our scenario, we want to use the MFCMAPI for deleting corrupted, hidden Exchange inbox rules from the Exchange mailbox of a recipient named Bob.

  • Select the required Outlook profile
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Note: A specific Outlook mail profile can serve as a container for different Exchange object such as – user mailbox, online archive, Public Folder or other mailboxes which the recipient has Full Access to these mailboxes.
For this reason, when we use the MFCMAPI to log into specific Exchange recipient mailbox, we can see a couple of “databases” represented by the yellow icon.

In our scenario, we wish to examine the content of Bob’s mailbox.

  • Right click of the “yellow icon” of the user mailbox. In our example, we want to view the content of Bob mailbox.
  • Select the menu – Open store
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  • Select the folder named – Root -Mailbox and click on the small white arrow to expand the Folder hierarchy
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  • Click on the folder named – IPM_SUBTREE
  • Click on the folder named – Inbox
  • Right click on the Inbox folder and select the menu – Open associated content table
How to delete corrupted hidden Exchange inbox rules using MFCMAPI-06

New “MFCMAPI window” appears – this window displays the internal structure of the Inbox folder. The window includes many columns.
In our scenario, we want to view the content of a column named – Message Class
To view this column, scroll to the right the column headers

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  • Select the column named – Message Class

The inbox rule saved as an object named – IPM.Rule.Version2.Message

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  • Right click on the value – Rule.Version2.Message
  • On the sub menu select the menu – Delete message
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  • Click on the small arrow
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  • Select the option – Permanent delete passing DELETE_HARD_DELETE (unrecoverable)
  • Click OK
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In some scenario, when we open the Outlook mail profile of the user whom we remove his inbox rule the following warning message appears:

The rules on this computer do not match the rule on Microsoft Exchange. Only one set of rules can be kept. You will usually want to keep the rules on the server. Which rules do you want to keep?

  • Select – Server
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  • Click OK
How to delete corrupted hidden Exchange inbox rules using MFCMAPI-13
The o365info Team

The o365info Team

This article was written by our team of experienced IT architects, consultants, and engineers.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. THANKS SO MUCH for this detailed solution. The only thing that didn’t work was link to the MFCMAPI.exe file. I was able to find that with a quick Google search and it looks like you’ve solved my problem. Grateful for people like you who take the time to lay this out so clearly that even a non-techie like me can figure it out.

  2. I am following your article.

    In my case I don’t see IPM.Rule.Version2.Message. Instead I have “IPM.ExtendedRule.Message” option.

    Do I delete it?



    1. Hi Jyothi,

      I had the same issue, managed to get around this a different way and not using MFCMAPI.

      Give yourself Full Access to the mailbox and then create an Outlook profile with the mailbox as the primary email address. Set your mail profile to prompt you to choose which one opens when you start Outlook.

      Once you’ve done this you can run “Outlook.exe /cleanviews” and then it deletes all the mail rules including the hidden ones.

      Obviously if there are legitimate rules export these before doing this, when you import them again it doesn’t import the broken hidden rule.


  3. I also experience this problem; my upgraded Outlook (2016) remembers a rule from a previous email address and is sending all my current emails to my old employer (which was used at the old employer as a backup email file). I did not have a message class file called IPM.Rule.Version2.Message, but instead deleted a file I thought would apply “IPM.ExtendedRule.Message”. I hope I haven’t messed something else up by permanently deleting the Extended Rule file. What do I do if the IPM.Rule.Version2.Message file does not exist?

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