THANKS to Paul McNamara over at Network World for linking to this article! Be sure to subscribe to Buzzblog to see more of his articles.

When using Outlook (or Windows generally), you may lose the ability to drag and drop items. For example, you may not be able to drag an email from the inbox into another folder.

The solution to this problem is (drum roll, please………..): press ESC.

You may need to press ESC more than once, but it seems to be a pretty reliable fix.

I don’t know all the combinations of Office and Windows that are affected by this problem, but I’ve had this problem with Windows 7 Enterprise 64 and Office Professional Plus 2010 32.

EDIT: Article has been updated to included Windows as a general culprit for this issue. Same fix works if you’re unable to drag and drop a file in a folder, etc.

EDIT EDIT: Added Lync to the title and tags based on a comment posted by “devnull”. Per the comment the same symptoms and solution apply. Thanks!


      1. Jayson

        This is not working for me. Any other suggestions?? Or where are you pressing esc from. I have tried everywhere. So frustrating. It just started. I have to right click and move the emails to move them.

        1. ANN

          I clicked ESC a few times it didn’t work.
          I then RIGHT CLICKED on a few items to manually “move to folder”
          Then closed all MS programs (word was open) and reopened
          Pressed ESC and it worked.

  1. Rajesh

    Thanks, was struggling with it for some time and then decided to google, voila this article was the first hit and i am happy and back on feet. 🙂 Cheers!!!

  2. Cathy

    Thank you for posting this – experienced this frustrating problem earlier today, so really glad to have found the solution.

  3. dilip

    Actually I have problem with drag and drop in outlook & I follow the Karzon steps Its works SUPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Daisy

    I closed and re-opened my outlook and it still didn’t work. I googled and found your post and problem solved in a split second! You are wonderful!

  5. mrwalker1

    Running Outlook 2013 in a Windows Small Business Server 2011 (aka Server 2008 R2) domain environment, same problem. Esc did’nt work. Turned out that the source email’s subject line was too long. Dragging and dropping did not work, nor did it return an error message about the subject line. I had to go to File -> Save As… and rename the email message in the destination folder. Just FYI!

    1. saniac Article Author

      I tried testing this and found the limit to be 215 characters. At 215 characters it would drag to a folder without issue. 216 and it wouldn’t drag. Thanks for sharing the information! -b

  6. johnfred

    does not work in windows 10 and outlook. I can no longer drag and drop from a web page to outlook. Any fix for this.

      1. johnfred

        outlook 2010 Found out in WIN 10 IE11 you have to disable in security Enable Protected Mode in order to drag and drop. But using the new Edge browser I have not found any setting to allow drag and drop. My understanding that Edge browser does not allow drag and drop.
        ESC key does noting to allow drag and drop in WIN 10.

  7. devnull

    You may want to extend this article to Lync. I was unable to drag and drop contacts in Lync. Google landed me here, whereupon I checked the behavior in Outlook. I confirmed drag and drop wasnt working in Outlook, pressed ESC once, and drag and drop started working in both Outlook and Lync.
    (Win 7, Outlook 2010, Lync 2010)

  8. Sue

    Random issue I never had before, googled and found you. SO glad I did, I am back at drag and drop to my folders for keeping my email clean at work!

  9. KH

    First time having the problem today, and was skeptical of the fix, but it worked. Has anyone found the underlying problem? i.e. what did we do/what was going on in the background that prevented drag and drop and was “cleared” by pressing esc?

  10. LV

    Awesome, Esc solution works with Outlook 2013, Windows 10. Like KH, also wondering what the hangup was in the background. And how lame is MS$ that this has been a glitch for almost 2 years?! Unbelievable.

  11. Sachin

    At first i thought come on man are you serious but then with no hope i said what the heck just try and voila.
    How did you figure it out.

  12. RustyChoccyStarShapedSheriffsBadge

    AMAZING Solution, I have had this happen before, rebooted PC, CLOSED and OPEN Outlook no good.
    but this is the solution, there is always an easy way……who would have thought the Escape Key!

  13. Thankful Intern

    This bothered me so much all over the weekend.. Left work on Friday thinking damn I got to put up with this forever hahahha.

    Thank you

  14. Rob

    Over 2 years since you posted this tip and it remains a huge help. Ran into this for the first time today, did a search and up popped your solution. Excellent! Thank you!!

  15. Wayne

    Wow.. this works!!! 4 taps on the esc button and like magic we can drag again. Thank you as this was driving me potty.

  16. Henry

    Hi, we have Office 2016 and running Chrome on Win 10. I tried to drag a drop PDF file from Outlook to a web app. It didn’t work…
    When exactly is one to press the escape key? I tried different combos without results. Did MS plug this hole?

  17. dnhoffman

    Doesn’t work for me, running Windows 10 with OUtlook 2016. tried rebooting, manually moving to another folder, nothing works.

      1. scott

        Me either. Same setup. Happened just after a massive windows update.

        Actually, mine works about 1 out of 20 times.

        1. BK

          Yup – doesn’t work for me? Does anyone know why? I had a huge windows update this morning and now I cannot drag and drop an email from inbox to a folder. I have pressed Esc heaps too.

    1. chassett

      Bummer, does not work for me either!! I am also running Windows 10 with Outlook 2016. It does randomly decide to work sometimes but then just stops for no reason. Rebooting does not help.

    2. Jesamine

      Yes same here Windows 10 and Outlook 2016. Intermittently stops working for dragging emails or attachments into a folder. Works occasionally and then I rejoice.

  18. Alex

    Amazing … i mean ESC ? … i was trying to change a lot of settings before i found this REALLY HELPFULL post , i am at work and suddently i could not drag and drop the emails from outlook anymore … and i found this , presed esc and … Magic happened ! Thanks a lot for the post ,

    But still ESC really ? why esc

  19. Ben Cardonick

    Awesome!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!!! I’ve been in IT for almost 20 years and I had never seen this problem before today. I assumed that there was a prompt open in the background causing Outlook not to respond correctly but when I remoted into the user’s PC, I was incorrect. I figured I was going to have to check settings in Outlook but googled the issue and found your solution. I was skeptical that it would work, but it did. You saved me tons of time.

    1. Jennifer

      You are amazing Mark. Thank you so much for your reply to this issue, as you can see it is 2017 and I was still having the same issue.

      Thank you again for taking the time.

  20. Mark

    Hitting ESC many times never fixed the problem in my case. After researching for over an hour, however, I came across a post that said that it could be that I had accidentally hit a key combination that prompted me to change my system to run Outlook with administrator permissions. Below is the post. In my case, I found that running Outlook *as administrator* fixed all of the issues. I can now drag messages between Outlook mail files and drag attachments around without issues.


    Outlook Outlook is running with administrator permissions
    Another situation in which the drag & drop feature breaks, is when Outlook has been started with elevated permissions. Or to put it in other words; it is running as an administrator.

    As you are then running Outlook with different permissions than Explorer, drag & drop between the two won’t work. When you try, the cursor will turn into this blocked sign as soon as you hover with your attachment over your Outlook message rather than turning into a “move or copy selection” pointer.

    Dragging & dropping attachments won’t work when Outlook runs as an administrator. (click on image to enlarge)
    Dragging & dropping attachments won’t work when Outlook runs as an administrator. (click on image to enlarge)

    Reasons for this to happen is that somehow compatibility settings were enabled for your Outlook shortcut or you held both CTRL and SHIFT while starting Outlook.

    When Outlook is started like this, Windows usually then also prompts you with an User Account Control warning; “Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?”

    To solve this, hold the SHIFT button when right clicking on your Outlook shortcut in the Task Bar (Outlook should be closed) and choose Properties. Then, select the Compatibility tab and make sure all selections are turned off.

    Most likely, the option “Run this program as an administrator” is selected for you.

    Make sure no Compatibility settings are set for Outlook.
    Make sure no Compatibility settings are set for Outlook.

    1. Monica

      Thank you, this helped me!! Or it was not the option..”as an administrator” that was chosen in my computer, “SYSTEM” was. I changed it into *my user*, and it works!

  21. MaryO

    Thank you! Thought I was the only one that ESC did not work for. Key combo sounds like a likely culprit too. I do stuff like that all the time. I was blaming a recent Windows update, but it must have been a coincidence.

  22. Erin

    I’m having the same problem. I think what worked in 2014 and 2015 which is most of these posts doesn’t work today. My computer updated Microsoft Office this morning. I’ve tried “File, Option, Search” method recommended and the hitting the ESC button multiple times. Windows button and ESC, etc….??

    1. Joe

      File , Option Search (FOS) worked for me, but, I could do just one e-mail after it; then tried multi-select e-mails, and it stopped again; back to FOS and 1 e-mail, and it started again;

      Also, sometimes, if I click and wait a little, it lets me drag, but not right away

      maybe I need more powerful processor than Intel Xeon 1.8 GHz for win 10?

  23. Mark

    I’m having the same problem. Pretty sure it was the latest Anniversary update of Windows 10 that is the culprit. I have users here whose PC’s have not updated and they can drag and drop with Outlook just fine. Hopefully Microsoft will patch this soon.

  24. Eric Schmid

    I have this happening on 4 user’s PC – Windows 10 and Outlook 2013. All started after the “Feature update to Windows 10, version 1607” (the fairly big Windows 10 update) that has run on these PCs within the last week. For the other 40+ users, no issue.

    The ESC key fix isn’t working for these 4 users with the issue.

  25. Linda

    My drag and drop suddenly stopped working. Searched for an answer and found yours. Half-heartedly tried it (seems too simple) and it worked! Thank you.

  26. Trev

    For those still having the issue i have found ALT + ESC works every time. I am unable to cause the issue but my users experience it often enough. It can affect any application and windows itself, so no more drag and drop on the desktop or outlook stops dragging and dropping.

  27. chri

    Tried all of the below – ESC, switchinig cahced mode, quick repair, full repair. What I think fixed it was resetting Internet Explorer settings – not Edge – Close all other windows and Apps then in Internet Explorer Settings – Advanced – Restore advanced settings – also Reset… and ensure it does reset and prompt to reboot.

  28. Bryan

    Thank you so much! Worked with just one press of “esc”. Simple fix for an annoying problem.
    Really appreciate you putting this very helpful site full of “undocumented features” together.

  29. Shem

    The ESC option usually worked for me but you still have to do it every time this occurred…the reason it happens is because Outlook seems to loose focus?
    I can’t remember where I found it but the permanent fix is to run Outlook in ‘Maximised’ mode:
    Right-click on the shortcut you use to open Outlook, choose Properties, then on the Shortcut tab, in the ‘Run’ field change it from Normal to “Maximised”…viola, will never happen again 🙂
    FYI, tested in Win 10 with Outlook 2016.

  30. Todd

    The Esc key did not work for me. In the shortcut Properties | Compatibility | Privilege Level, I unchecked “Run this program as an administrator” and it started working again! I went back in and checked “Run this program as an administrator” and I cannot Drag & Drop!

  31. Todd

    I found why… If you are running Outlook with different permissions than Explorer, drag & drop between the two won’t work. The problem is tied to how security permissions work. The ability to drag and drop from a normal applications to an elevated one would break the security model behind UAC. This issue goes all the back to Vista.

  32. Laurie Way

    OMG I thought I had gone nuts when this happened to me. First with me not being able to drag and drop emails then moving appointments in Calendar. Took a chance and Googled and found this post. Thank goodness…worked immediately. Thank you so much!

  33. Randy Stegbauer

    Thanks for the incredibly simple solution!

    But then WOW…just wow…what caused that in the first place? I wonder what I did?

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