Dec
6

How to fix "Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Unable to open Outlook window" error

Cannot open your Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016? In this article you will find really working solutions for "Cannot start Microsoft Outlook" problem that will help you have your Outlook up and running again with no errors. The fixes work in all versions of Outlook 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007 and lower and on all systems.

A few articles ago we discussed what can be done when Outlook is freezing and not responding. Today, let's see how you can fix and prevent an even worse scenario when your Outlook does not open at all.

"Unable to start Microsoft Outlook" error - causes and symptoms

The main symptom of this problem is very obvious and easily recognizable: you click Outlook's icon, an hourglass appears and is hanging for a while, and then you get the "Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook" error.

According to Microsoft, the major cause of this issue is a corrupted Navigation Pane settings file - profilename.xml, where "profilename" is the name of your Outlook profile. A good indication that the file is corrupted is when its size is 0 KB. No one knows the exact reason why this happens, but all versions of Microsoft Outlook from 2003 to the newest Outlook 2016 may be affected.

Other reasons may be when you run Outlook in the compatibility mode, or if you are using a profile created in an older Outlook version, or if the Outlook data file (.pst or .ost) was deleted or damaged as the result of incorrect uninstallation or reinstallation of Outlook.

Anyway, whatever the reason is, the outcome is the same - you cannot open the Outlook window because of this error: "Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window. The set of folders cannot be opened."

Error: Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window.

There may be a few variations of this message depending on which Outlook version you use.

Outlook 2010: "Microsoft Outlook has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience."

Outlook 2007: "Cannot open your default e-mail folders. The information store could not be opened."

Outlook 2003: "Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Unable to open the Outlook window. Invalid XML, the view cannot be loaded."

How to fix "Cannot start Microsoft Outlook" issue - universal solutions

Now that you know what causes problems on Outlook start up, let's see how we can get them fixed. Below you will find the troubleshooting steps for 4 most common problems that prevent Outlook from starting correctly, listed in order of frequency and efficiency:

Recover the Navigation Pane configuration file

In most cases it is the corrupted Navigation Pane settings file that prevents Outlook from starting successfully, so the first thing you need to do is to mend it. Here's how you can do this on different operating systems:

  1. If you use Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, click the Start button. On Windows XP, click Start > Run.
  2. Type the following command in the search field:

    outlook.exe /resetnavpane

    Note: Be sure to enter a space between outlook.exe and /resetnavpane.

    3. Press Enter or click on the file in order to reset the Navigation Pane settings and then open Outlook.
    Use the outlook.exe /resetnavpane command to reset the Navigation Pane settings and restart Outlook.

If you prefer to work with the Run dialog on Windows 7 or Windows 8, then follow this way.

  1. On the Start menu, click All Programs > Accessories > Run.
  2. Type the outlook.exe /resetnavpane command and click OK.
    Type the outlook.exe /resetnavpane command and click OK.

    Note: An automatic fix for "Outlook unable to start" problem is available of Microsoft's site for Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP. Simply click "Fix this problem" link on this page.

    Delete the Navigation pane settings file

If for some reason you were not able to recover the Navigation pane configuration file, nor did the automatic fix provided by Microsoft work, try to delete the XML file that stores the navigation pane settings. To do this, proceed with the following steps:

  1. Enter the below command in the Start > Search field on Windows 7 and Windows 8 (or Start > Run on Windows XP) and press Enter:

    %appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook

  2. This will open the folder where Microsoft Outlook configuration files are stored. Find and delete the Outlook.xml file.
    Find and delete the Outlook.xml file.

    Warning! Do try to recover the Navigation pane settings file first. Consider deleting as the last resort, if nothing else works.

Repair your Outlook data files (.pst and .ost) using the Inbox Repair tool

If you have reinstalled Outlook recently and something went wrong during uninstallation of the previous version, the default Outlook data file (.pst / .ost) might have been deleted or damaged, which is why Outlook won't open. In this case you are likely to get this error: "Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. The file Outlook.pst is not a personal folders file."

Let's try to repair your outlook.pst file using Scanpst.exe, aka Inbox Repair tool.

  1. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\{Office version}. If you have 64-bit Windows with 32-bit Office installed, go to C:\Program Files x86\Microsoft Office\{Office version}.
  2. Find Scanpst.exe in the list and double click on it.

    Alternatively, you can click Start and type scanpst.exe in the Search box.
    Find Scanpst.exe on your computer and double click on it.

  3. Click the Browse button to select your default Outlook.pst file.

    In Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016, the PST file resides in the Documents\Outlook Files folder. If you upgraded to Outlook 2010 on a computer that already had data files created in previous versions, you will find the outlook.pst file in a hidden folder in these locations:

    • On Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8" - C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook
    • On Windows XP, you will find it here C:\ Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

    Click the Start button to start scanning your PST file for errors.

You can find more details about repairing the Outlook PST file on Microsoft's web-site: Repair Outlook Data Files (.pst and .ost).

Try to open Outlook and if it starts without errors, congratulations! You do not need the remainder of this article : ) Or maybe, it's worth to bookmark it for the future.

Turn off Compatibility mode in Outlook

When it comes to using compatibility mode in Outlook, let me quote a wisdom that Outlook's guru Diane Poremsky shared on her blog: "If you enabled compatibility mode, disable it. If you haven't, don't even consider it."

You can turn off compatibility mode in the following way:

  1. Click the Start button (or Start > Run on Windows XP) and type outlook.exe in the search field.
    Click the Start button and type outlook.exe in the search field.

    Alternatively, you can find outlook.exe in the default installation folder: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\{Office version}. Where {Office version} is Office15 if you are using Office 2013, Office14 for Office 2010 and so on.

  2. Right-click on OUTLOOK.EXE, and then click Properties.
    Right-click outlook.exe, and then click Properties.
  3. Switch to the Compatibility tab and be sure to clear the "Run this program in compatibility mode for" check box.
    Clear the Compatibility mode check box.
  4. Click OK and try to start Outlook.

If you still cannot open the Outlook window and the same "Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook" error persists, try to restore the previous version of the PST file. Of course, in this case some of your recent emails and appointments will be lost, but it seems to be a better alternative than no Outlook at all. So, right click on the Outlook.pst file and select Restore Previous Versions.
Right click on the Outlook.pst file and select Restore Previous Versions.

Create a new Outlook profile

If neither repairing nor restoring the Outlook.pst file worked, you can create a new mail profile in order to see if it solves the problem. If it does, then you can copy your current Outlook data file (.pst or .ost) from the broken mail profile to the newly created one.

  1. Create a new profile by going to Control Panel > Mail > Data Files > Add...
    Use Control Panel to create a new Outlook profile.

    For full details, see Microsoft's step-by-step guidance on creating a new Outlook profile.

  2. Set the new profile as the default one. On the "Account Setting" dialog > Data files tab, select the new profile and click the Set as Default button on the toolbar.

    After you do this, a tick will appear to the left of the newly created profile, as you see in the screenshot below.
    Set the new profile as the default one.

  3. Try to open Outlook and if it starts normally with the newly created profile, copy the data from your old .pst file as explained in the next step, and continue working with it.
  4. Import data from the old Outlook PST file. Hopefully, now you can finally open Outlook but your PST file is new and therefore empty. Don't panic, this is not a problem at all compared to the one you've just solved : ) Perform the following steps to copy emails, calendar appointments and other items from your old .pst file.
    • Go to File > Open > Import.
    • Select "Import from another program of file" and click Next.
    • Choose "Outlook DataFile (.pst)" and click Next.
    • Click the Browse button and select your old .pst file. If you've had just one Outlook profile and never renamed the PST file, then most likely it will be Outlook.pst.
  5. Click Next and then Finish to complete the migration process.
    Warning! If your old Outlook PST file was severely damaged and the repair procedure was not successful, you may get "Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. The set of folders cannot be opened" error again. If this case, the only way is to create a new profile and use it without importing data from the old .pst file.

If your old .pst file contains very important data that you absolutely cannot live without, you can try some third-part tools to repair your PST file, e.g. described in this article: Five reliable Outlook PST file repair tools. I cannot recommend any particular tool because luckily have never had to use any on my own machine.

Start Outlook in Safe Mode without any extensions

Starting Outlook in Safe Mode actually means that it will be run without any add-ins that are currently installed on your machine. It is the fastest way to determine if the problem on Outlook start up is caused by some of the add-ins.

To open Outlook in safe mode, click on its icon holding the Ctrl key, or click Start and enter outlook /safe in the search line and then press Enter. Outlook will display a message asking you to confirm that you really want to start it in safe mode, click Yes.
Starting Outlook in safe mode

An alternative way is to use the outlook.exe /noextensions command, which basically means the same - start Outlook without any extensions.

If Outlook starts fine in safe mode, the problem is definitely with one of your add-ins. Try to disable the add-ins one at a time to detect which one is causing the problem. You can find the detailed information for Outlook 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007 and older versions here: How to disable Outlook add-ins.

Fix Outlook hanging on Loading Profile

This problem is most typical for Office 365/Office 2016/Office 2013 but it may occur in Outlook 2010 and lower versions too. The main symptom is Outlook hanging on the Loading Profile screen, and the main cause is a conflict between the operating system and OEM video drivers.

To fix this issue, please do the following two things:

  1. Set the display color depth to 16-bit.
    Right click on an empty space on your desktop and then click on Screen Resolution >Advanced settings. Then switch to the Monitor tab and change Colors to 16-bit.
    Set the display color depth to 16-bit.
  2. Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration.

    In Outlook 2010, 2013 and 2016, go to the File tab > Options > Advanced and select the Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration checkbox under the Display section near the bottom of the dialog.
    Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration

The solutions above address the most frequent reasons of Outlook starting problems and help in 99% of cases. If against all expectations your Outlook still won't open, try the troubleshooting steps below. These tips cover other, less frequent scenarios, and more specific errors.

Solutions for specific Outlook startup errors

These solutions address less common errors that may occur in certain scenarios.

A fix for "Cannot start Outlook. MAPI32.DLL is corrupt" error

As the error description explains, this error happens if you have a corrupted or outdated MAPI32.DLL installed on your machine. Usually this happens when you'd installed a newer version of Microsoft Office and then installed an older one.

The entire text of the error message is this: "Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. MAPI32.DLL is corrupt or the wrong version. This could have been caused by installing other messaging software. Please reinstall Outlook."

To fix the MAPI32.DLL error, perform the following steps:

  • Open C:\Program Files\Common Files\System\Msmapi\1033
  • Delete MAPI32.DLL
  • Rename MSMAPI32.DLL to MAPI32.DLL

Start Outlook and the error should be gone.

A fix for Exchange Server errors

If you work in a corporate environment and your company uses an Outlook Exchange server, then the "unable to open Outlook" problem may be caused by something known as Cached Exchange Mode. When the Cached Exchange Mode is enabled, it saves and regularly updates a copy of your Exchange mailbox on your computer. If you don't need this option, then turn it off and you should no longer get the error. Below are the links to turn off Cached Exchange Mode in different Outlook versions:

Another error that may occur in the Exchange server environment is related to a missing default gateway setup. I'm not really sure what it actually means, but fortunately for us Microsoft has an explanation and automatic fix for Outlook 2007 and 2010. You can download it from this page.

One more cause of errors when starting Outlook is disabling the Encrypt data between Outlook and Microsoft Exchange setting. If it is the case, you will see the errors like these:

"Unable to open your default e-mail folders. The Microsoft Exchange Server computer is not available" or "Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook".

And again, Microsoft has provided the detailed information on how to cope with this problem, you can find it on this page.

A fix for Outlook Connector errors

If you cannot start Outlook because of an error message similar to this one: "Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. MAPI was unable to load the information service msncon.dll. Be sure the service is correctly installed and configured", know that it is the Microsoft Hotmail Connector add-in to blame.

In this case, uninstall the Outlook Connector manually as recommended on this forum, and then install it anew. Here are the download links:

How to speed up and improve your Outlook experience

Though this section does not relate directly to Outlook start-up problems, it still may be useful if you actively use Outlook in your daily work. Let me, please, quickly introduce you 5 time-saving plug-ins that automate the following tasks in Outlook 2016 - 2003:

You can find more details about the tools and download their trials by clicking the links above. Just give them a try, and these plug-ins will streamline your email communication and enhance your Outlook experience in so many ways!

You can buy any of the tools separately or as part of Plug-ins Collection. And don't forget to grab a special coupon code that we created especially for our blog readers. Use it on the order form and get the 15% discount on any products: AB14-BlogSpo

***

Hopefully, at least one of the solutions described in this article helped to resolve the problem on your machine and now your Outlook is up and running again. If not, you can leave a comment here and we will try to figure out the solution together. Thanks for reading!

197 Responses to "How to fix "Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Unable to open Outlook window" error"

  1. Shawn says:

    An orphaned calendar was my problem. I received the error listed, but it corresponded with me removing an account from Outlook. I followed the steps above with no success. After remembering the removed email account, I added it back in from the control panel and opened Outlook without a hitch. After looking around I found a calendar attached to that email account, removed it then removed the account again. Now Outlook works fine.

  2. Jack says:

    My problem is a little different in that I do not receive a "cannot open default email folder" note. When I click on the mail icon (Windows 8) the blue screen comes up with the envelope on it and then immediately returns to the start screen with all of the icons on it (not the desk top screen).

    Any suggestions for accessing Outlook email?

  3. Ben says:

    Nice Work
    10X

  4. Mike Roberts says:

    Thanks Svetlana for this excellent write up. Recently, I encountered "Unable to display the folder...." error in my Outlook 2010 and your article helped me a lot. Now, my outlook application is working fine!

    - Mike

  5. JJesus says:

    Errores de Outlook

  6. Ananth Krishnan says:

    Superb.. Thank you so much :)

  7. Chiranjeevi says:

    when i am trying click the outlook itself it is not opening with the error set of folders cannot be opened

  8. Steve Reynolds says:

    I was unable to open Outlook 2007 and was receiving a pop up stating an invalid XLM. I followed the instructions:
    Recover Navigation Pane configuration file
    and it fixed the fault.
    Many thanks.

  9. Teddy says:

    None of these worked for me, but I did find a solution...>>>

    control panel --> mail --> show profiles --> Add -->
    (complete wizard)
    then alter the drop down below-->
    change "outlook" to whatever name you just created.
    click OK and run outlook..

    solved the issue for my office 365 dilemma!

  10. Guru says:

    Helpful, Thanks.

  11. TfromMN says:

    Thanks! It was the compatibility setting that fixed it for me in Office 2013.

  12. ali says:

    i have to say thanks a lot for your help because i was facing some problems in my office outlook and after go on your steps now is okay thanks

  13. Julianich Defrancisa says:

    KrojamSoft FilesSearch Tool helped me in this case.

  14. Fonske says:

    I had the same problem and eventually I resolved it by enabling the isatap adapter from Microsoft through the CLI (netsh int isa set state enabled. I have no idea what the link might be between these two but this resolved my headache. ;-)

  15. Karthik Prasanna says:

    Hello Svetlana,

    this helped me to resolve the issue without my IT to do this and they were not able to fix it. thanks for the useful article.

    You are awesome after Step 3 it did not change anything and it still throwed an error but when checked 3. Switch to the Compatibility tab "Run this program in compatibility mode for" was checked again as Windows XP.

  16. Shakira says:

    Thanks a lot. These steps fixed the issue which i was working for more than an hour

  17. David Conner says:

    I had tried ScanPST.exe with no success. So, I followed your given reference about 5 best PST repair tool. I selected stellar PST repair tool and got access to some important emails of my Outlook mailbox.

  18. Gene says:

    Svetlana- you are a life saver!!! I was trying to back up my contacts and screwed things up. This helped greatly!!!

  19. Derek says:

    Outstanding advice - thank you so much!!

  20. Richard says:

    Thank you so very much for your kind advice.

  21. `Beatrice says:

    Thanks creating a adding a new outlook mail worked for me. Thanks.

  22. Benny says:

    I try to open Outlook and a message comes out that we "can only open one version of Outlook at a time". But I do not have any other version open!! can anyone help in words of one syllable please?

  23. Nitin says:

    Its Working...

    Thanks...

  24. Jamal says:

    Hello Team,

    I am unable to open my old .pst files into new computer what could be the solution for the same I even tried to use Scanpst.exe to repair it but, not successful.

    Need assistance please

    Many Thanks

  25. E Williams says:

    It worked! YAY! Thanks a million!!!

  26. Saif says:

    Thanks a lot for the information, Step 2 has worked for me.

  27. JulieAnn says:

    Outlook wont open the error message reads

    Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Unable to open the
    Outlook window. The set of folders could not be opened. The
    server is not available. Contact your administrator if this
    condition persists.

    I have little to no pc knowledge and this means nothing to me other than I have no email access. Is any able to give me any advice on what to do. I even had to type long hand the message as I dont even know how to do a screen shot. Many thanks Julie

  28. chhavi says:

    Hi
    You are right. This problem can be solved by this but i have one more tool by which any non technical user can also run this software to resolve this error.

  29. Zeb says:

    Thanks to everyone, followed steps and job done.

  30. Dency says:

    This worked wonderful Thank you for posting this

  31. Sylvain says:

    I am in the same situation with Outlook 2016, following the uninstall of a third party software. This software includes an Outlook addon which might explain why the uninstall affected Outlook.
    Anyway, that's Microsoft.
    I have tried all the above mentioned options to no avail.
    I have recreated a new PST file, Outlook now opens (great!), however I cannot import any mail from the old file (so what?). It is an OST file which has a 250M size.
    So, it seems I have lost 6 months of banking business information.
    This makes me think how right I am of having 4 home computers equipped with Linux Mageia!

  32. George says:

    Just tried to open micro soft outlook from my lap top icon for my emails this morning as per normal however... error message just appeared and I cannot get into my emails...
    .."The Operation Failed"...

    Any suggestion on how to fix this !!!

    Thanks..

  33. Habeeb says:

    Thanks for the suggestions above. After trying most of the suggestions i finally managed to fix the issue just by creating a new outlook profile. I just copied the old one, gave it a new name and viola, worked fine.

  34. ramendra says:

    Thank you so very much for your kind advice.

  35. ITMan says:

    Try this if using Windows 7 with Microsoft Outlook 2010:
    Procedure
    1. Click on start menu.
    2. Type "Outlook Files".
    3. Click on "Outlook Files" folder under search result.
    4. Delete "Outlook" in outlook files folder.
    5. Now open "Microsoft outlook 2010" application.
    6. Click "ok".
    7. Type your login password and confirm.
    8. Tick "save password".
    9. Click "ok".
    10. It shall be OK now.

  36. mmonoson says:

    Thanks for the solution to my problem! Accessing the data files through the Control Panel was the magic for me.

  37. Nick H says:

    I found my own solution where all else failed.
    I had to start outlook in safe mode and the ignore the corrupted "Outlook" named profile but go straight to create a new profile called Nick. I then needed my outlook icon to use that profile outlook.exe /profile Nick. I now need to find out how to remove the corrupt profile!

  38. shoaib says:

    cannot start microsoft outlook. cannot open the outlook window. the set of folder cannot be opened

  39. raja says:

    can help me some one

  40. raja says:

    outlook 2010 and 2013 having credenitial how to solve

  41. Mmaphutego says:

    please help me to activate my ms outlook sos that i can receive and send my emails

  42. imran says:

    thanks. this aurtical is very very use full for me

  43. Mario says:

    Thanks for the troubleshoot, I fixed my Outlook in no time!

  44. Karen Jane says:

    Adding a new profile worked for me!

    Really appreciate this article and the help it gave me.

  45. Gary says:

    DON'T PANIC - TRY REBOOTING FIRST.

    I got stuck in a loop of the first 2 options (navpane, scanpst) - neither worked. Eventually, I put back what Scanpst was saying was my corrupted .PST file, rebooted, and all worked again properly.

    My original problem happened when I tried adding a work email account into Outlook 2013 (I already have 9 email accounts loaded).

    My guess is something was corrupted in Windows' cache, and all the hard options here were unnecessary. >>> try rebooting before panicking.

  46. Michael says:

    I am having problems opening Outlook.

    My problems started a few days ago. First, deleted junk kept reappearing, then while trying to reply to mail, I get a message saying 'cannot send, device not connected to internet'. However, the person who I wrote to apparently got it and replied.

    Tried to locate .pst file to scan it with scanpst but it's not anywhere in my program files.

    Indeed 'Outlook /safe'in run tells me Outlook is not found. Yet, I've just been using it today and I am sure I haven't deleted it.

    The compatability box is unchecked; it wasn't checked in the first place.

    I am in China if that's any significance.
    Hope you can help me. Thanks.

  47. Michael says:

    I should add that I am using Windows 10, and Outlook 2010.Also, (if it's relevant) after a check, I have discovered that, along with millions of others, I have 3 instances of being Pwnd.

  48. Brian says:

    Just for those in my situation: None of what is in this "How to fix" apply...at all. Fist off, I am getting this dreaded error (Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window. The set of folders cannot be opened. The file C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\user.ost is not an Outlook file (.ost).) is zero in size while doing a clean install of Outlook 2016. Using a Win 10 laptop remotely. The ".ost" file is being created for the first time (I've uninstalled and removed all traces of Outlook 2016 or Office 2016, for that matter, several times). I have and can run Outlook 2013, connecting cleanly via the manual settings no longer allowed under 2016. Yes, the ".ost" file is corrupted, but the corruption is while being created by the Outlook 2016 program itself. There isn't a fixing tool that can correct it. It seems that Microsoft has to screw with anything that works in order to frustrate everyone into using the junk they are trying to force down the throats of the marketplace. (For those who wonder why this being done on a Win 10 machine, that was a no choice situation forced by Microsoft and Lenovo.)

  49. Rajuranganathan says:

    Thank you very much for your solution

  50. Regina Schoenheimer says:

    I'd perpetually want to be update on new blog posts on this web site, saved to fav!

  51. Sagar aarge says:

    Dear Mam,
    It has helped me a great way. I am working professional working in Garment industry and from few days i was unable to start outlook but by your help i have done successfully, thanks you taught me something helpful.

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