[FIX] Outlook for Mac 2011 Won’t Start

Here’s a fix, or at least one possible method, for when your copy of Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011 won’t start.  I have had this happen a few times now and the following steps have resolved it for me on each occasion – it would seem that the Outlook Database corrupts and needs rebuilding.

The symptom is that when starting Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011, the logo splash-screen opens up and then…. nothing.  Even after a reboot of the Mac. So, what you have to do is enable the Microsoft Database Utility which will then run, and where needed fix, the Outlook database.

Now before we proceed, the usual safety small-print:  make sure you have backed up the relevant Outlook related files before attempting any of the following – just to be sure!

Outlook Mac 2011 Database Fix

To try and fix the corrupted Outlook database simply click on the keyboard ‘Alt’ key when clicking the Outlook for Mac 2011 icon and the Microsoft Database Utility will then open. Next click on ‘Rebuild Main Identity’ – this will kick off a scan, verification and the move of your emails to a fresh new database file.

Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011 Won't Start Fix

After copying the emails/records across to a new Outlook database it will then recover any data and end the rebuild.

Outlook for Mac 2011 Corrupt Database Fix

Click ‘Done’ when completed and exit the Microsoft Database Utility.  Everything going to plan, when you now click your Outlook for Mac 2011 icon it should open OK.

Another scenario when you may also see the Microsoft Database Utility is when you start Outlook for Mac 2011 and it actually detects an issue with the email database prompting you to start the utility to try and fix the problem.

Outlook for Mac 2011 There is a problem with the Office database

As with most things there are multiple problems or issues that may be causing this Outlook problem, though this is a common fix in my experience.  Hope this helps.

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 database is corrupt after a backup from Time Machine. I went through all the motions you described however the Database Utility ends with an 8000 error and Outlook 2011 still won’t start, what then?

    • Hi Dave, Same problem after backup from Time Machine: Rebuilding Main Identity goes through steps 1 to 4 , but then at the final step just states “Your database could not be rebuilt. [-18000]”
      Have you found a way to resolve this?

  2. Simon, you are a genius! After reviewing many posts on line for fixing this problem (all of which involved lots of complex/scary steps) I found your simple elegant fix. Wow, and thank you!

    Quick Question – any clever ideas on A. Speeding up my old MacBook Pro – I have already maxed the RAM? and B. It overheats all the time, how to address.

    I appreciate your expertise!


  3. I have a problem with outlook for mac, that whilst the programme will open I can’t view outlook following the installation of a very recent update. Microsoft support said it was a known issue and helped me with a team fix. It had to go to finder, type in terminal and open this up. They then gave me two lots of data to type into terminal which cured the problem. The first lot of data was: defaults delete com.microsoft.Outlook and the second lot of data I have somehow managed to delete. it was something like killall (and then I have no idea). Can anyone help as micros of are taking for ever to answer the phones?

  4. Hi – I upgraded my Apple Lap Top to macOS Sierra recently and I already had and used Microsoft Office mac 2011 installed. I’m having the same problem as the others, I click the O to open and the Outlook mac 2011 flashes and disappears. I have tried to rebuild the Main Identity several times over and it’s doesn’t work. I tried rebuilding the last back up Main Identity to see if that would make a difference – that was successful but still couldn’t open Outlook. Tried rebuilding the Main Identity again, nope… same message ‘Your database could not be rebuilt’. I get my emails on my Samsung S6 as well so I can at least read them but can’t access any emails, etc. Can open Word, Excel, Power Point, no problem there. Some suggestions have been to delete or uninstall macOS Sierra, is that the best option or please can you help? Thanks Dallas

  5. 1) Will this cool fix work for the same issue that comes up for *everyone* who updated to OSX10.13.1 (high sierra)?
    2) How do you find/back up the Outlook database?
    3) I have other machines with Office 2016. Will rebuilding this database affect other computers’ databases or can that serve as my backup?

  6. Thank you Simon. I have had to rebuild my Outlook before but never when I didn’t get that message. This was so helpful to know how to get into the utility without Outlook opening. I appreciate how easy your directions were written. You kept me from having a panic attack. 🙂

    Best regards,
    Diane Rosenberg

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