Cannot Start Microsoft Outlook: 4 Ways to Resolve the Issue

 Cannot Start Microsoft Outlook: 4 Ways to Resolve the Issue

‘Cannot start Microsoft Outlook?’ Well, there is nothing to panic about. It’s not abnormal to get this message when you use Outlook as your email partner. Before you get this message you will see an hourglass icon that is hanging for some time and then get that error message. There may be several reasons why you cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Here we are going to discuss these and give you ways to resolve the issue.

Corrupted Navigation Pane settings file

You may get the error message due to the corrupted Navigation Pane settings file ‘profilename.xml’. Here the Outlook profile name is the ‘profilename’ in the file. If the size of this file is 0 KB then it’s an indication that this file is corrupted.

To fix this problem you need to recover your Navigation Pane configuration file. You must do this differently for the various operating systems. For Windows 7, Windows 8, or Vista, click the Start button. Then type ‘outlook.exe/ resetnavpane’(note that there should be a space between .exe and resetnavpane. Click on the file to reset the settings. Then open the Outlook. If you can’t fix the file then delete it. Write on the search field of Windows 7 or 8 ‘%appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook’. This will show you the Microsoft Outlook configuration files. You should delete the ‘Outlook.xml’ file.

Compatibility mode

If your profile is created in the older version of Outlook then this problem can happen. In this case, you should turn off the compatibility mode. For this, you should click the Start button and write outlook.exe on the search box. Right-click on the outlook.exe and select Properties. Move your cursor to the Compatibility tab and check off the box “Run this program in compatibility mode”. Now click OK and open Outlook. If it doesn’t work, you should restore the previous version of the .pst file. For this, you should right-click on the outlook.pst file and choose ‘Restore Previous Versions’.

Damaged .pst or .ost Outlook data file

Another reason can be that your Outlook data file with extension .pst or .ost was damaged or deleted for which uninstallation or reinstallation of the software occurred incorrectly.

You can repair the .pst and .ost files with the Inbox Repair tool. You must open Windows Explorer and go to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office{Office version}. Then find scanpst.exe and double click. You can also search for the scanpst.exe file from the Start->Search option. Now select the default Outlook.pst file. Now your Outlook won’t show the error message anymore. If this doesn’t work then you must create a new mail profile. Go to the Control Panel > Mail > Data Files > Add. Then you should set the profile as default by going to Account Setting > Data files. Then select the new profile and choose ‘Set as Default’.

Problem in add-ins

Your Outlook may not start due to problems with add-ins. To fix this issue, you can also start Outlook in the Safe Mod where it will run without any add-ins. You should select the Outlook icon and hold the Ctrl key at the same time. Alternatively,  in the search box, you can type outlook/safe and press enter. You will get a message to confirm that you want to open Outlook in safe mode. After you confirm, the Outlook will open in the Safe Mode. You can disable the add-ins one by one to see which add-in is causing the problem.


On a busy work schedule, getting the message ‘Outlook cannot be opened’ can slow down your productivity. If all your written communications are fully dependent on Outlook then your work will be affected to some extent. So, whenever you get such a problem, try to resolve it as fast as possible so that it doesn’t affect your work much.


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