Top 5 Ways to Fix Cannot Start Microsoft Outlook Problem

In this article, learn how to fix “Cannot Start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open Outlook windows” error when trying to open Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016.

The tutorial applies to all versions of Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 and on all systems.

A few guides ago I discussed what can be done when Microsoft Outlook has stopped working or not responding. This tutorial will show you how you can prevent and solve an even worse scenario when you unable to start Microsoft Outlook.

Causes and symptoms of “Outlook won’t open” problem

When you start Microsoft Outlook, an hourglass occurs and is stopping for a while, after that you face the “Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window. The set of folders cannot be opened” error.

  • According to users, the root cause of this problem is a corrupted Navigation Pane settings file (profilename.xml).
  • The Outlook data file (.ost or .pst) was damaged or deleted as the result of incorrect uninstallation or reinstallation of Outlook.
  • If you run Outlook in the compatibility mode.
  • If you are using a profile created in an older Outlook version.

In the most cases, when you cannot open the Outlook window, the following error pops up:

Cannot Start Microsoft Outlook

Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window. The set of folders cannot be opened

Depending on which Microsoft Outlook version you use, here are some variations of this error message.

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

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

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

So in case if you’re also the victim of this problem, here is how to fix it:

How To Fix “Cannot start Microsoft Outlook” Issue

Method 1. Recover and Delete the Navigation Pane configuration file

Sometimes you cannot open the Outlook window due to the corrupted Navigation Pane settings file that prevents Outlook from starting successfully. And if that’s the case, you might want to mend it, here’s how you can recover the Navigation Pane configuration file.

Step 1. Close your Microsoft Outlook and the error message of Outlook.

Step 2. Click the Start menu button, then type outlook.exe /resetnavpane in the search field and press Enter.

Open your Outlook and check if it starts up normally. If the problem still remains, you can try deleting the Navigation Pane from your computer.

Step 3. Now, open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder where Microsoft Outlook configuration files are stored:

%USERNAME%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

Step 4. Locate and delete the Outlook.xml file.

Open your Microsoft Outlook and then check if it starts normally.

Method 2. Repair your Outlook data files (.pst and .ost)

The other method if you cannot start Microsoft Outlook is to repair your PST file. In some cases, your default Outlook data file (.ost/.pst) might have been damaged or deleted, you may get the following error “Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. The file Outlook.pst is not a personal folders file.
Follow these steps below to learn more how to use SCANpst.exe:

Step 1. Go to C:\Program Files (x86) or (x64)\Microsoft Office\{Your Office version}

Outlook 2007: C:\ Program Files (x86) or (x64) \Microsoft Office \ Office12
Outlook 2010: C:\ Program Files (x86) or (x64) \Microsoft Office \ Office14
Outlook 2013: C:\ Program Files (x86) or (x64) \Microsoft Office \ Office15
Outlook 2016: C:\ Program Files (x86) or (x64) \Microsoft Office \ root \ Office16

Step 2. Find and double-click the Scanpst.exe file.

Step 3. When open Scanpst.exe then click on the Browse button to open PST file which you want to repair.

Note: Go to Documents\Outlook Files to find your PST file

Step 4. After the opening the PST file, click on Start button to begin scanning your PST file.

Step 5. If the scan finds errors, click on the Repair button to fix them.

When the repair is complete, you can try to open Outlook and see if it manages to boot up.

Method 3. Turn off Compatibility mode in Outlook

Compatibility mode is used to help an application that compatible with an older Windows version run on the latest versions of Windows. However, according to users, compatibility mode can prevent Microsoft Outlook from starting up on Windows 8 or Windows 10. You can turn off it in the following steps:

Step 1. Click the Start menu button and type outlook.exe in the search field.

Or, navigate to the default installation folder: C:\Program Files (x86) or (x64)\Microsoft Office\{Your Office version}

Step 2. Right-click on outlook.exe and click on Properties.

Step 3. Switch to the Compatibility tab and make sure that the box near Run this program in compatibility mode for is unchecked.

Step 4. Click Apply > OK to save changes.

You can now try to start Outlook again from the same executable and check if it manages to start.

If the “Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook” error persists and you still cannot open the Outlook window, try to restore the previous version of the PST file. To do so, right-click on the Outlook.pst file and click Restore Previous Versions.

Warning: Using this method, your recent emails and appointments will be lost.

Method 4. Resetting your Outlook profile

You should be able to fix this problem by creating a new mail profile. After that, just copy your current Outlook data file (.ost or .pst) from the broken mail profile to the newly created one. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1. Open the Control Panel, and type Mail in the Search box at the top of window.

Step 2. Then select Show Profiles > Add

Step 3. In the Profile Name box, type a name for the new profile, and click OK.

Step 4. Moving on, re-configure your email account on your new profile. Type the same email and password that you used with the first Outlook profile.

Step 5. Return to the initial Mail window and make sure your new profile is used by default.

Now you try to start Outlook and if it work as well with the newly created profile, copy the data from your old .pst file as explained, and continue working with it.

Read more: How to Import your PST file into Outlook 2010, 2013, or 2016

If your old Outlook PST file was severely damaged and the repair procedure was not successful, you may face “Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. The set of folders cannot be opened” error again. In this case, I highly recommend you should create a new profile and use it without importing data from the old .pst file.

Method 5. Open Outlook in Safe Mode

Lots of users love installing add-ins to enhance Outlooks functionality, however, these add-ins can create certain issues and then they cannot start Microsoft Outlook. If this case, you should start Outlook in safe mode without any extensions. It is the easiest way to pinpoint if the problem is caused by one of the add-ins. To start Outlook in safe mode, follow these steps below:

Step 1. Open a Run window, enter Outlook /safe and click OK.
Step 2. Once opened Outlook in Safe Mode, select File > Options > Add-ins.
Step 3. Then, go to the Add-ins tab, make sure that Manage box shows COM Add-ins. Click Go.

Step 4. Now, you need to disable all the selected add-ins by clearing the check boxes and then click OK.

Note: Remember the list of all enabled add-ins in Available Add-ins section, so you’ll know how to restore the normal configuration afterward.

If Outlook opens fine in safe mode, I am sure that the issue is with one of your add-ins. In order to determine the conflict, you can close Microsoft Outlook and launch it again in normal mode. After that, try to disable the add-ins one at a time to detect which one is causing the issue.

Hope something helps you. Please feel free to contact me if you need any further information. You can find more details about 100+ Tips and Tricks in Microsoft Outlook in my blog.

Top 5 Ways to Fix Cannot Start Microsoft Outlook Problem
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