Personmetadata Outlook

Update 4th June 2020

Original post

If you recently created a new Outlook Profile in Outlook 2016 for Mac, added a new account, or if you recently imported new data from a source such as a PST or OLM file, Spotlight indexing may not be complete. In this case, Outlook for Mac displays a 'No Results' message. To resolve this issue, wait for indexing to finish, and then search again. Called Immersion, it scrapes a user's Gmail account looking only at the metadata (From, To, Cc and Timestamp fields of the emails) to present an overview of their network. If you're comfortable.

If you use the Outlook client and have a mailbox located in Exchange Online, you might discover mystery blank emails located in a folder called ‘PersonMetadata’. They’re unread, with a blank from/to/subject field and no contents visible, with a size of 2KB. Trying to open them results in opening a blank new email.

They don’t turn up in a normal Outlook search, but will show if you create a Search Folder, and you’ll see a lot of them. The folder itself is hidden by default, and you could use MFCMapi to see the folder in someone’s mailbox.

According to this Microsoft Support article, they’re objects used for Outlook Customer Manager, which actually sounds like a pretty useful set of features around tracking customer relationships and sharing contacts.

Personmetadata Outlook

I logged a case with Microsoft to try and find out more, and see if this could be disabled. I was told that Outlook Customer Manager is actually enabled in all tenants and mailboxes, regardless if the feature is being used or even ‘on’. There are some forums talking about turning this feature off, but the licensing option is only in some tenants (from what I can tell, Business customers) and not an option at all for Enterprise customers. Too bad if you don’t want this feature!

Macos big sur ableton. Just a heads up that Ableton Live 10 Suite is working for me on MacOS 11 Big Sur. As always, this is a beta and it may be stable for a user and unstable for another. This is also not my primary device, hence why I decided to install the beta. I'll be glad to try some plugins to test their compatibility. Live 11 is compatible with macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 to Big Sur 11. Live 10 Live 10.1.35 is compatible with macOS El Capitan 10.11.6 to Big Sur 11. Note: When updating to any new OS, please make sure that all of your third-party plug-ins, hardware drivers and other software programs are officially supported.

It’s also recommended by support to not delete these items – and more will just turn up anyway don’t waste your time doing that.

There is also possibly a future patch to Outlook to hide these results, but at the time of writing it was only stated as a possibility with no confirmation or ETA.

I did work out a workaround though – adding an extra filter to the Search Folder:

  • Find the Search Folder in Outlook and right click > ‘Customize this search folder’
  • Click the Criteria button.
  • Click the ‘Advanced’ tab and from the ‘Field’ dropdown menu, choose ‘Frequently-used fields’ and then ‘To’.
  • Type ‘@’ into the Value field and press the ‘Add to List’ button.

Your screen should look like this, and press OK. Because the empty looking mail objects have no To or From field, but any normal email will have to have an ‘@’ in the email address, the results you now see for the Search Folder won’t include the blank objects.

For those who use Search Folders, this is a reasonable workaround but let’s hope it gets fixed properly.

Update 7th May 2020

I’ve had a lot of people visit this blog recently, so I’m guessing something more drastic has broken. If you’re using an inbuilt Search Folder, then the ‘Criteria’ button may be greyed out. You can instead create a new Search Folder by right clicking ‘Search Folders’ and choosing ‘New Search Folder’:

From this New Search Folder window, scroll to the bottom and choose ‘Create a custom Search Folder’. Then press the ‘Choose’ button, which should have the ‘Criteria’ button available.

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When you create a Search Folder for all mail items in Microsoft Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, or Outlook for Microsoft 365, the folder may include unexpected items that have an empty subject line. If you point to these items, the following information is displayed:

In folder: PersonMetadata

The PersonMetadata folder was created and used by Outlook Customer Manager (OCM). Although the OCM service was deprecated in June 2020, Outlook still uses this folder. When new items are created in the Contacts folder or the Recipient Cache folder (a hidden folder under the Contacts folder), related items are created in the PersonMetadata folder.

The PersonMetadata folder is usually hidden from other parts of the Outlook user interface. However, mail items from the PersonMetadata folder may be included in Search Folders. You can identify such items by their empty subject line.

The PersonMetadata folder and the items that are created in it will be removed from the service in the future. In the meantime, you can use either of the following workarounds for this issue.

Workaround 1

To prevent mail items in the PersonMetadata folder from showing up in your Search Folders, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the Search Folder, and select Customize This Search Folder.
  2. Select Browse, and clear the Search Subfolders option.
  3. Manually select the folders that you want to include.

Workaround 2

If you receive a 'folder item limit' notification that states that the PersonMetadata folder is approaching the 1-million-item limit, use one of the following methods to delete all the items in the folder.

Folder item limit notification

Method 1: Run MFCMAPI on the affected user's computer

Use this method if only a few users are experiencing the issue. If there many affected users, use Method 2.

  1. Exit Outlook.

  2. Download the MFCMAPI tool.

  3. Start the MfcMapi.exe program, and select OK.

  4. On the Tools menu, select Options, specify the following options, and then select OK:

    • Use the MDB_Online flag when calling OpenMsgStore
    • Use the MAPI_NO_CACHE flag when calling OpenEntry
  5. On the Session menu, select Logon.

  6. In the Profile Name list, select the profile for the mailbox, and then select OK.

  7. Double-click the appropriate Microsoft Exchange Message Store. Typically, this is the entry that has the Default Store = True setting.

  8. In the navigation pane, expand Root Container, expand Top of Information Store, and select PersonMetadata.


    The text for the Top of Information Store node might be localized in another language, depending on the regional settings of the mailbox.

  9. Right-click PersonMetadata > Advanced > Empty items and subfolders from folder.

  10. In the Delete Items and Subfolders dialog box, select Hard Deletion and then select OK.

Personmetadata Outlook 2016

Notice that MFCMAPI may seem to stop responding for an extended time while it performs the delete operation. You can monitor its progress by running the Get-MailboxFolderStatistics cmdlet.

Personmetadata Outlook Delete

Method 2: Run the EWS script as an administrator

Personmetadata Outlook Unread

This method requires you to configure a service account to impersonate the user. See this article to learn how to configure impersonation.

Personmetadata Outlook Message

  1. Download and install the EWS Managed API on the computer where you will run the EWS script.

  2. Download the EWS script.

  3. Run the following cmdlet as an administrator to install the latest Exchange Online PowerShell management module:

  4. Run the following cmdlet to empty the PersonMetadata folder for a unique user:

    This cmdlet hard deletes the contents (items are not moved to Deleted Items). If you want to simulate the deletion before you commit to it, use the -WhatIf parameter.

    To run the script against several users, create a CSV file that contains an Identity column and that has the SMTP addresses of those users. Then, run the following cmdlet:

  5. When you're prompted, enter the credentials of the service account that you configured for impersonation.