Microsoft Outlook Error – “Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window.”

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When going to open my Outlook email client this morning I received the following error message:

“Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook  window.”

Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook  window

This was easily solved by running the following command from the ‘Run’ prompt. *IMPORTANT: Make sure that you have a space between the ‘Outlook.exe’ and the ‘/resetnavpane’ command switch.

“Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook  window

If you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7 you won’t have the ‘Run’ option enabled by default.

“Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook  window

To enable ‘Run’ option go to the ‘Customize Start Menu’ section and check the ‘Run command’ box.

“Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook  window

Everything going well this should fix you’re “Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook  window.” error.


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About Simon Seagrave

Simon is a UK based Virtualization, Cloud & IT Technology Evangelist working as a Senior Technology Consultant and vSpecialist for EMC. He loves working in the ever changing IT industry & spends most of his time working with Virtualization, Cloud & other Enterprise IT based technologies, in particular VMware, EMC and HP products.

As well as on this site, you can find him on Twitter and Google+


  1. The Outlook.exe/resetnavpane won’t work on my Vista computer…it tells me that it cannot find that prompt

    anything else i can do?

    • error message “cannot start microsoft office outlook. cannot open the outlook window”
      its working

  2. I have had the same problem as egrand (trying to run in Vista the fix as posted).

  3. Try a space between .exe and the /

    It worked for me ! Thanks !

  4. THANK YOU SO MUCH! The spacing worked… I have been working on this for hours including deleteing registry and nothing worked. THANK YOU!!!

  5. It works! I shall earn some penny with this.

  6. gemini72 says:

    Works perfect everytime – even though I don’t understand why it does that on every reboot.

  7. gemini72 says:

    Sorry, as in giving me the same error message over and over…

  8. worked for me too – with the space – thanks !

  9. worked for me too – with the space – thanks !

  10. Awesome, easy fix for a perplexing problem. Thank you.

  11. Thank you so so so much. It worked with the spacing.

  12. Thanks, that worked perfectly…you need the space though!

  13. harry1971 says:

    wow tht command worked for me thanks a lot buddy for the solution

  14. Thank you this worked – with the space. Why does this suddenly happen though? Bit worrying. It followed a Windows update….

  15. thanks a lot! It worked with space for me too, you guys ROCK!!!

  16. Thanks, great tip about the space in the command line, it doesn’t work without it.

  17. Fantastic! i followed this and got the problem fixed in a second. This is after spending hours looking up other sites & microsoft help which was a complete waste of time. Thanks again.

  18. Fantastic. Worked for me too. I was a bit worried I would lose all my conatcts, but I didnt. Thanks.

  19. Brilliant. Worked for me too, another website was telling me to reinstall the service pack! but yours was far simpler and worked!! Cheers

  20. Thank you verry verry much :)

  21. Thanks so much will I have to repeat this every time I reboot?

  22. Major thanks, worked the first time! This happened for me when I was sycning folders over a VPN connection, outlook blew up, then blue screen of death as i was shutting down outlook. Thanks again!

  23. E Freeman says:

    Bless you, bless you.

  24. OMG…….Thanks……YOU ARE GOD
    But will it do this again?

  25. Wonderfully helpful and straightforward. Thanks a lot

  26. I had just got the error after my system had rebooted after Automatic Update which included some Outlook patches – thought I was going to have to reinstall or restore. Your fix has saved me a lot of time. Thanks.

  27. Worked like a charm in XP. Many thanks!

  28. Thanks, finally a solution that works. I’m very grateful.

  29. Thanx a lot man!

  30. Thank you very much it worked from the get go!

  31. worked great. Thanks!

  32. wasworriedbloke says:

    great stuff – excellent work fellas!

  33. Beth Stenger says:

    Thank you for the information regarding cannot open Outlook. I have been working on that problem all day and your solution solved it in seconds. Thank you!

  34. This fix worked for me except my contact list is missing. Any suggestions on where to find it?

  35. It works just watch out for the space, cheers for the info.

  36. Thanks a bunch!

    Works like a charm.

  37. awesome thank you you’re a life saver!

  38. For days I have been working on a Outlook promblem. Your suggestion on how to fix Microsoft Outllok worked
    Thank you so much

  39. Thanks so much! I was trying the “outlook.exe/resetnavpane” solution with no luck at all – UNTIL I saw your solution to add the space. It worked! I’m running Windows 7 .. don’t know if that’s why. All better now – thanks again!

  40. Thanks. worked perfect

  41. I use Windows 7, can I do the resetnavpane in Win 7,
    and will this keep happening?

  42. Thank You so much!
    Microsoft qouted me 5 hours at $89 per hour to fix this. I was about to the point of paying it when I found this.

  43. Many Thanks
    Worked like a charm 10/10

  44. Myrna: I tried that on Win7 and it worked.

    However, I observed that all my previously configured search foloders and favorites folders are gone. My configuration for “Mail” view has been resetted to initial as well (I had customized it as per my convenience).

    Although, these are minor issues as compared to the original one but I am really curious about what went wrong and what this command did to fix it.


  45. Graham Down says:

    Many thanks – works perfectly. Should have tried your site first rather than going to Microsoft 1st and wasting several hours!!

  46. worked for me too,.

  47. Bill Ando says:

    Worked a treat many thanks.I did the same as Graham above. Should have know microsoft wouldn’t of know how to fix their own product.

  48. Great tip about the space between. Used alternate program for weeks before discovering this site. Thanks again.

  49. heather says:

    thanks! run command worked! Thannnnnnk youuuuu

  50. Thanks this worked for me you saved my life all my work is on my outlook Thanks so so much

  51. OMG! It worked! Thank you so much.
    I’ve spent hours working thru microsofts useless support docs on this problem, all to no avail. Then I stumbled on your fix, and it fixed the problem in seconds.

  52. Shanianni says:

    Didn’t work for me :( XP with space blah blah, effing Microsoft :(

  53. phonske says:

    Worked a treat. Thanks for sharing. I tried almost everything including reinstalling and repairing Office suite was about to clear the registry after 4 days of on and off effort.
    Thanks a million people like you are stars in their own right. God bless.

  54. Yes worked fine for me too but I have to do it everytime I reboot – is there a way to make it a permanent fix?
    Or is there something on my computer causing this to happen?
    Outlook had been working fine previously and I’d hadn’t made any changes or added any new programs it just suddenly started doing this for no apparent reason.
    Using new computer with windows 7

  55. OUTSTANDING! It worked. Many thanks.

  56. have been looking for solution for hours. THIS WORKS LIKE MAGIC!!!

  57. Richard says:

    Thanks for the info – fixed the problem!

  58. Thanks for the info – fixed the problem her

    Many thanks


    Now– can you fix my Excel issue… :)

  60. Thanks so much, this worked great for me on Windows 7.

    All the best,


  61. It also worked for me. Many thanks!

  62. It worked for me too, but I did it yesterday and today had the same “crash’. The computer went blue screen to “protect data loss”, when I rebooted I got that message in office 2007. “Couldn’t open the windows screen..” I ran the code suggested and it’s now working again, but the question is why is it happening repeatedly?

  63. Worked for me, Thank you so much

  64. just a follow up to my previous post where i had the problem that i had to do the fix everytime i started up (new dell computer, windows 7) – it actually stopped doing that after about 5/6 times and is now a permanent fix, no idea why as i changed nothing, but great anyway, thanks again!

  65. Nice one! thanks for your help

  66. Thank you so much. After looking around for fixes that seems complicated, this was amazingly elegant and simple. Best of all it worked immediately.

  67. thanks!!! :)

  68. Great! Lots of thanks. It is nice to see if it works. Thanks again to make me feel so easy now!

  69. great! it works!

  70. Fiorenzo Bendotti says:

    Worked flawlessly. Thank You

  71. J. Hughes says:

    Thanks…it worked!

  72. Thanks, a very effective procedure. Worked immediately.

  73. Thank you so much. It did a wonder for me. Thank you. :))

  74. It worked! thanks for sharing this tutorial. cheers!=)

  75. Bart Grefte says:

    Unfortunatly, this does not fix this problem over here.

    Both Outlook 2010 beta and RTM have this problem immediatly after a clean install (with clean I mean XP clean installed as well).

    Some things I noticed:
    - With /safe Outlook works normal;
    - /safe:1 not, same error;
    - /safe:2 the Dutch error roughly translated: invalid argument
    - /safe:3 Outlook works normal;
    - /safe:4 same as /safe:2

    When the error occurs, just before that Outlook shows that “ms office is being configured” window which only should show during 1st start, it does not show with /safe and /safe:3.

    Something I found with Google:
    1. Locate HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWindows Messaging Subsystem
    2. Delete the Profiles key under the Windows Messaging (Subsystem) key.
    ^ does not help.
    Not his also

    Any idea’s?

    • Hi Bart,

      That isn’t a problem I’ve come across as yet. That said, I have yet to upgrade to Outlook 2010 as it is not currently compatible with the Blackberry Desktop Manager.

      Anyone else out there have any advice or ideas that may help Bart?



  76. Thankyou , you helpend me a lot! And the information was very weel explicited

  77. Thank you so much!
    this was so helpful.
    works like a charm

    • Thanks to everyone who have taken the time to leave a comment – I’m so glad that this post has managed to help you. :)

      All the best,


  78. Bart Grefte says:

    Kiwi Si, problem is solved :)

    Someone on the Dutch forum mentioned that Outlook 2010 is depending on Windows Desktop Search 4.0, that was not installed….

    Now for some reason Outlook did not mention this in the error and it should’ve start up normally without Desktop Search installed, but for some reason it did not.
    After installing Desktop Search 4.0 Outlook started up without problems.

    This might explain the problem:
    I’ve been using updatepacks from the RyanVM board to update my XP disc. I remember something about the maker of the (Dutch) post SP3 updatepack doing something with the Desktop Search update, although I don’t remember what. It didn’t seem installed and it did not appear at MS Update so there was something going on.
    Add to that that I just now installed Outlook 2010 on a clean XP install with only SP3 and nothing more installed, not the updates released after SP3 and not even Desktop Search 4.0.

    …. Now Oulook starts up right away, no error, but it does mention on the main window that Desktop Search is not available.

    Think I’m gonna have a talk with the maker of the updatepack :)

    • Hi Bart,

      Apologies for the delay in replying and thanks for taking the time to let us know about the Desktop Search 4.0 fix for Outlook 2010. :)

      That will likely catch many new Outlook 2010 users out.



  79. Worked like a dream! Thank you!!!!

  80. Carole Macdonald says:

    Worked brilliantly! Thank you.

  81. Excellent worked a treat thanks very much

  82. Bridgette says:

    This worked for me, thank you! Any ideas why this happens? It occurred on a new computer, and Outlook was only activated today. Outlook was working fine during the day, and the error occurred when restarting Outlook after the computer was idle for a while. Very frustrating, very thankful for your post!

  83. Thanks – this worked like a dream! You rock.

  84. Richard says:

    Just a little tip on errors like this. When in doubt, run process monitor from sysinternals. That will reveal the problem in many cases.

    • Hi Richard,

      Good tip.. Totally agree – what a great util. I attended a session a Microsoft TechEd a few years ago where Mark Russinovich demonstrated how to troubleshoot with it – cool stuff! A must have addition to any self respecting admins tool box. :)



  85. Bart Grefte says:

    Kiwi Si,

    I’ve found out more about what was going on.
    The maker of the updatepack added 2 registry keys that made Windows, Outlook and MS Update see Windows Desktop Search 4 as installed (while it was not), this to prevent WDS from showing up at MS Update.
    These are the keys in question:

    HKLM,”SOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows Search”,”CurrentVersion”,0×0,”04.00.6001.503″
    HKLM,”SOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows Search”,”SetupCompletedSuccessfully”,0×10001,01,00,00,00

    Just deleting those is enough to get Outlook working, although because of the absence of WDS some (search) functions will not work but the main functions of Outlook do.

    So problem solved :D

  86. Great, It worked. I waited for 2-3 days to get the problem fixed.Thank you very much.

  87. Great, It worked. I waites for 3 days wondering how to fix it. Thank you very much.

  88. Thanks – worked a treat!

  89. Microsoft provide inboxrepair tool for damaged .pst file. If inbox repair tool can’t help you then use 3 part repair pst file software . you can find various 3rd party tools on Internet but one of the tools that I have come across can be found at – kernel outlook recovery software

  90. Thanks a lot.. It worked fine..

  91. Thanks for the fix. I cannot believe this error could occur without Microsoft issing a fix. It really p*sses me off–I tried Restoring, Reinstalling, Repairing, etc. and notnhing worked until I read your fix. Does anyone know what the heck causes this and why won’t repair work?

  92. Fantastic. ran the command and bingo!!! All is good. Thank you.

  93. Many Thanks – Worked first time !!

  94. Thank you Thank you! Easy easy fix. You will be my first stop for help from now on!

  95. Many thanks!! Worked perfectly, in seconds.

  96. thanks, It helped me.

  97. Thanks a million – it worked! :-)

  98. I have Vista and I get no error message, but Outlook 2010 simply doesn’t open after clicking on the icon. The little circle thingy spins around for a few seconds, as if preparing to open, but then it stops and nothing happens. I’m loathe to mess with registry keys because I’m not that geeky. Is there a way to get Outlook 2010 running?

  99. Hi, can anyone help me out there. I am getting frustrated and my computer is about to go for a flying lesson.

    My 7 year daughter clicked yes to something the other day but couldnt remember what. Now when I try to open Microsoft Office Outlook I get the message “cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window”.

    I saw your response and have tried the above ie. the resetnavpane etc. but now I get a message saying “Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. The command line argument is not valid. Verify the switch you are using”.

    Does anyone know what this means and how I fix it.

    From a really frustrated self-employed secretary who needs her emails. I can access them via another source but its not great. Forgot to mention I am on Windows 7 ultimate.

  100. Karen Weber says:

    Your instructions worked perfect. Thanks for the extra one about enabling ‘Run” You’re awesome!

  101. thanks fro bringing us to the solution of the problem

  102. T.Johnson Miller says:

    “Outlook.exe /resetnavpane” worked for me.Thanks

  103. Thanks for the detail solution. I have found one more interesting post related to this outlook error, here:

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