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How to Fix Cannot Start Microsoft Outlook, Cannot Open the Outlook Window Error



Opening Outlook only to be greeted by an error message can throw a wrench in your day. This issue on Outlook can disrupt everything from work emails to personal plans, causing unnecessary stress.

You will find the error message, “Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook windows. The set of folders cannot be opened. The attempt to log on to Microsoft Exchange has failed.”

Image credit: Microsoft

Top Solutions to Resolve Cannot Start Microsoft Outlook, Cannot Open the Outlook Window Error

Rest assured, we’re here to help you resolve this Outlook problem and get you back on track.

Check Outlook for Add-in Conflicts

Add-ins can be a blessing or a curse. While they offer additional features, they can also cause conflicts that prevent Outlook from opening properly. Here’s how to identify and resolve these launching issues.

  • To start Outlook in Safe Mode, press and hold the ‘Ctrl’ key while clicking the Outlook icon. A prompt will appear asking if you want to start the application in Safe Mode. Click ‘Yes.’
  • Alternatively, use the ‘Run’ dialog by pressing ‘Windows + R,’ typing ‘outlook.exe /safe,’ and hitting ‘Enter.’
  • In Safe Mode, go to ‘File,’ then ‘Options,’ and finally ‘Add-Ins.’
  • You’ll see a list of active add-ins. To disable one, highlight it and click ‘Remove’ or ‘Disable,’ depending on your version of Outlook.
  • Restart Outlook in normal mode to check if the issue is resolved. If the problem persists, disable add-ins one by one to find the one causing the conflict.

By following these steps, you can identify the add-in causing the issue and get Outlook running smoothly again.

Use Microsoft’s Troubleshooting Tools

Microsoft has its own cavalry for tech issues, known as the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant. This tool is designed to diagnose and automatically fix problems for you. It’s like having a tech-savvy friend who doesn’t mind being called up at odd hours.

  • To get started, download the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant from the official Microsoft website.
  • Once downloaded, open the tool and follow the on-screen prompts. It’s pretty straightforward, and you don’t need a PhD in computer science to figure it out.
  • The tool will ask you to select the application you’re having issues with. In this case, that would be Outlook.
  • After that, it will run a series of diagnostic tests to identify the problem. It’s like a doctor’s check-up but for your software.
  • Once the tests are complete, the tool will either automatically fix the issues or provide you with a set of instructions to resolve them manually. Either way, you’re getting closer to a solution.

Keep in mind that while the tool is comprehensive, it may not catch every issue. If the problem persists, don’t lose hope. There are other methods to explore.

Repair Outlook Data Files

Image credit: Microsoft

When Outlook acts up, sometimes the culprit is a corrupted data file. These files come in two flavors: PST (Personal Storage Table) and OST (Offline Storage Table). PST files store your emails, attachments, and other goodies, while OST files are essentially offline copies of your mailbox.

Now, let’s get to fixing those files. Microsoft offers a built-in tool called the Inbox Repair Tool, or scanpst.exe. It’s not flashy, but it gets the job done.

  • Locate the scanpst.exe file on your computer. The location varies depending on your version of Outlook, but it’s usually found in the Program Files folder under Microsoft Office.
  • Double-click the scanpst.exe file to launch the Inbox Repair Tool.
  • Click ‘Browse’ to locate the PST or OST file you want to repair. If you’re unsure where to find it, a quick search in the File Explorer should point you in the right direction.
  • After selecting the file, click ‘Start.’ The tool will scan the file for errors and offer you options for repair.
  • Choose ‘Repair’ to fix the issues. You might want to back up the file before doing this, just to be on the safe side.
  • Once the repair is complete, restart Outlook and check if the issue is resolved.

If you’ve followed these steps and Outlook is still giving you grief, it might be time to consider other options. But for many, this tool can be the quick fix they need to get back to business.

Update or Reinstall Microsoft Office

Sometimes the issue isn’t just with Outlook; it’s with the entire Office suite. A quick repair can often set things right. You can do this through the Control Panel, and no, you don’t need to be a tech wizard to pull it off.

  • Open Control Panel and go to ‘Programs and Features.’
  • Find Microsoft Office in the list, click on it, and then click ‘Change.’
  • You’ll get options like ‘Quick Repair’ and ‘Online Repair.’ Choose one and follow the on-screen instructions.

A full reinstall might be in order if a repair doesn’t do the trick. It’s the software equivalent of a do-over. But before you go down that road, make sure you’ve exhausted all other options. Reinstalling is time-consuming and you’ll need to set up your preferences all over again.

  • To reinstall, you’ll need to uninstall Office first.
  • Head back to ‘Programs and Features’ in the Control Panel.
  • Find Microsoft Office, and click ‘Uninstall.’
  • After that, install the latest version from Microsoft’s website.

A fresh install can work wonders, but it’s a bit like moving houses. You get a clean slate, but you must also unpack and arrange everything again. So, weigh the pros and cons before taking the plunge.

Optimize Startup Settings on Windows

Image credit: Microsoft

Having Outlook in your startup folder might seem convenient, but it can slow down your computer’s boot time. It’s like inviting a friend over who then overstays their welcome.

  • To remove Outlook from the startup folder, press ‘Windows + R’ to open the Run dialog.
  • Type ‘shell:startup’ and hit ‘Enter.’ This will open the Startup folder.
  • If you see an Outlook shortcut here, right-click on it and choose ‘Delete.’

Removing Outlook from the startup folder can make your system start faster and run more smoothly. It’s a small change, but sometimes the little things make a big difference.

Just remember, you’ll need to open Outlook each time you start your computer manually. But hey, it’s a small price to pay for a speedier system.

Adjust Send/Receive Settings on Microsoft Outlook

Outlook’s default Send/Receive settings are set to automatically update your inbox. While this keeps your emails up to date, it can sometimes cause performance issues, especially if you’re dealing with a slow or unstable internet connection.

  • To access these settings, go to ‘File,’ then ‘Options,’ and click on ‘Advanced.’
  • Scroll down to the ‘Send and Receive’ section and click on ‘Send/Receive.’
  • Here, you can adjust the time intervals for automatic updates or even disable them.

Modifying these settings can improve Outlook’s performance. For instance, you can increase the time interval between automatic updates to reduce the load on your system. This is particularly useful if you’re multitasking or running resource-intensive applications.

Update Add-ins and Software on Microsoft Outlook

Outdated add-ins can be the hidden gremlins messing with your Outlook experience. Keeping them updated ensures that you’re getting the best performance and security.

  • To check for add-in updates, go to ‘File,’ then ‘Options,’ and click on ‘Add-Ins.’
  • At the bottom, you’ll see a ‘Manage’ dropdown. Select ‘COM Add-ins’ and click ‘Go.’
  • A window will pop up showing all your active add-ins. Check if any have an ‘Update’ option and proceed accordingly.

Updating add-ins is a bit like renewing your driver’s license; it’s a hassle, but it keeps everything running smoothly. If an update is available, go ahead and install it. If not, you’ve at least ruled out one potential issue.

Create a New Microsoft Outlook Profile

Image credit: Microsoft

If Outlook is still giving you a hard time, consider creating a new profile. This is often a last-ditch effort to resolve persistent issues.

  • Open the Control Panel and search for ‘Mail.’ Click on ‘Mail (Microsoft Outlook).’
  • In the dialog box, click ‘Show Profiles,’ then ‘Add.’ Follow the prompts to create a new profile.
  • Make sure to set your new profile as the default. This ensures it’ll be the one Outlook uses when you open it next.

Creating a new profile doesn’t mean losing your existing emails or contacts. You can import all your old data into the new profile. It’s like moving into a new house but bringing all your old furniture with you.

This is often the last resort, but sometimes it’s the most effective one. A new profile can resolve lingering issues that other fixes couldn’t touch. It’s the tech equivalent of a clean slate, and who doesn’t love a fresh start?

If Outlook is a vital part of your daily routine, an error message can really throw you off. But hey, tech glitches happen to the best of us. Hopefully, the information here has been a helping hand in getting you back to your emails and appointments.



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