How to start Outlook in safe mode

When something isn't working right with Outlook we often tell users to start Outlook in safe mode or using the /safe switch. This loads Outlook without many of the customization files and add-ins loaded. If Outlook works correctly in Safe mode, the problem is with one of your add-ins or customization files.

You can use one of these methods to start Outlook using a command line switch:

  • Hold Ctrl key as you click the Outlook shortcut.
  • If you use Vista or Windows 7, type outlook.exe /safe in the Start Search field on the Start menu then press Enter.
  • In Windows 8, press Windows key to drop back to the Start screen, then type outlook.exe /safe.
  • If Run…. is shown on your start menu (any version of Windows) click it and type outlook.exe /safe in the Open field and click OK.
  • Hold the Windows key and press R, then type outlook.exe /safe in the Open field and click OK.

Windows 7 and Vista Start Search field

Start Outlook in Safe Mode

In most cases you only need to type outlook or outlook.exe, but occasionally Windows complains that it can't find the file. When this happens you need to use the full path to Outlook.

The default location is usually C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OfficeXX, where XX is your version number. You can browse to it or look on the Quick Launch shortcut for the file path. Do this by right click on the Outlook shortcut on Quick Launch toolbar and choosing Properties. The default switch is /recycle, you can replace this with /safe, press Apply then double-click on the shortcut to run it (leave the dialog open). After Outlook opens, replace safe with recycle and click OK.

Shortcut properties

If Outlook is not closing properly, look in Task Manager, Processes tab and verify it's not running. You can open Task Manager by right clicking on the Windows task bar and choosing Task Manager.

The following safe switches are available:


Starts Outlook without extensions, Reading Pane, or toolbar customization. Works with all versions.


Starts Outlook with the Reading Pane off. Outlook 2003/2007 only.


Starts Outlook without checking mail at startup. Outlook 2003/2007 only.


Starts Outlook with extensions turned off, but listed in the Add-In Manager. Outlook 2003/2007.


Starts Outlook without loading Outcmd.dat (customized toolbars) and *.fav file. Outlook 2003/2007.

To see all of the command line switches Outlook supports, see Using Command lines

  • Wilfiied Maul

    Problem: I can°t open my Microsoft Outlook 2003 on Windows 7
    this programm show me that msncon.dll is not there

    I dry allready with outlook.exe /resetnavpane ,but nothing is working
    and i look allredy in the Web for this >> msncon.dll <
    I need this Microsoft Outlook
    Wait for your replay soon as possible
    Yours faitfully
    Mr. Wilfried Maul from Germany

  • Diane Poremsky
  • joe Outlook with Xobni addon is very buggy. I've had to go into safe mode on two separate occasions due to Xobni.

  • Diane Poremsky

    A lot of addins are very buggy. :)

  • Dale

    I am also using Outlook 2003, as I have been for many years. I have an issue that I have not bee able to resolve. Suddenly Outlook wants to run ONLY inth esafe mode. I have used Safe mode before, and any time I did, it would find or reslove any issue it had and then restart in normal run mode. NOt this time.
    I see no apparnet differences in behavoir or performance, so feel there is no problem, but I am forced to use Safe Mode or not run Outlook. I am hesitant to sync with my Android as I might pass the issue on to the Android.
    I would greatly appreciate input on this as soon as you can.

  • Femi

    Many thanks, i have been unable to t-shoot outlook'10 for 2 days till i came across this post...thanks once again as OLK2010 is now working :)

  • Lois

    I'm trying to use office 2010 on Windows 7 home premium, it opened up then I get the dreadful message "cannot start microsoft outlook , I have tried all of the above, safe mode, etc none of this works. I have uninstalled and reinstalled, I've even restored my laptop to factory setting thinking it was something wrong there, NOTHING works. I have tried to go back to office 2007 after uninstalling 2010, which I wasn't having any of these problems, now it won't open either. I can't believe this doesn't work, I've spent over a day working on this, there got to be a fix that works.

  • Diane Poremsky

    That error usually can be fixed one of two ways - by resetting the navigation pane or turning off compatibility mode.

    A new profile should also work (as long as compatibility mode is not enabled).

  • Mark

    So what to do when Outlook still has problems after starting in safe mode?

  • Diane Poremsky

    That tells us the problem is not with support files or add-ins. What are the symptoms of your problem?

  • JC Dutel France

    My Outlook doen't want to start. His windows open and close after 2 seconds.
    In the event wiever, I have got:

    Erreur lors de l’exécution de complément. Outlook s’est arrêté pendant le rappel « OnConnection » de l’interface « IDTExtensibility2 »
    tout en appelant le complément « Macro complémentaire Microsoft VBA pour Outlook ».




    Macro complémentaire Microsoft VBA pour Outlook

    I tried to start outllok on safe mode, but it seems the switch doesn't work .Outlook always close after 2 seconds. There is no message telling safe mode.
    Itried to reinstall office 2010 , and also VBA, but it is still the same

    do you have any idea?


  • Diane Poremsky

    Translation is Error when running a complement. Outlook stopped during the encore "OnConnection" interface "IDTExtensibility2" while appelan

    it also mentions Application PC-Bureau-Asus

    Is that a Asus utility?

    The error references a vsto/net framework so it seems like the problem is an addin.

    Does outlook work in Safe mode? To open Outlook in Safe mode: Close Outlook then hold Ctrl as you click on the Outlook icon. You'll get a message asking if you want to start in Safe mode. Click Ok.

  • Chuck Wells

    Outlook 2007 on Windows 7 home will not open. It starts and then a window comes up that says "... set of folders cannot be opened" it is looking for .pst files. when I go to the location, there is no pst file. I do have a backup file from outlook. I have tried all of the indicated solves and uninstalled and reinstalled office (could not figure out how to uninstall only outlook.) I am not able to open in safe mode.

    When I reloaded office, i expected to see Outlook ask me to set up my account, but it did not do that.


  • Diane Poremsky

    The profile is stored in the registry and isn't removed when you uninstall or reinstall outlook.

    Try the /resetnavpane switch. Tip 657: “Unable to open the Outlook window” error

    If that doesn't work, what type of email account do you use?

  • Alan Goodale

    I am running Office 7 on windows 7. I am unable to access new mail and some other parts of my Outlook e-mail. I have tried the built-in PST file repair with no luck did not find any problems.I also tried to run outlook in safe mode that did not work, error comes up saying problem opening PST files.

  • Diane Poremsky

    What type of email account do you have configured?
    What is the exact error message?

  • Stacia

    I am running WIndow 7 and Outlook 10. I used to be able to delete subfolders within outlook with no problems. We switched servers (went to GoDaddy) and I am no longer able to delete these folders. If I go into the web email via godaddy I can, and it will sync to my outlook. Just cant do it straight from outlook. The message I get is I do not have permission and to check properties and the permission for that folder. Well properties does have anything that talks about permission. It says it is most likely a limitation of your IMAP server. It is a subfolder to another folder I created. I did try to start in safe mode and the subfolder still would not delete.

    I do still have the old account in Outlook with my old emails from previous server. When we went to GoDaddy the new email account in Outlook place a (1) behind the email address account name. Not sure if that is useful info.

  • Diane Poremsky

    The (1) doesn't have an effect on this. Can you drag it to the trash folder?

  • Zakasoft

    It worked in Windows XP SP2. Thank you for sharing this useful information.

  • Greg

    I can't open Outlook normally OR in Safe Mode - tried all the other tips above (resetnavpane, etc.) and I get the same error message at every step: "Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open the the Outlook Window. The set of folders cannot be opened. File access is denied. You do not have the permission required to access the file C:\Users\GregandVanessa\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst"

    I have Windows 7 (64 bit) and Outlook 2010. I've reinstalled both trying to solve this. All other Office programs work fine. The Mail Setup dialog box in the Control Panel won't open either (nothing happens when I click it). Help!

  • Diane Poremsky

    When the control panel, mail icon won't open it usually means the registry is messed up. If it worked before and quit this week, it could be caused by a bad update.
    Close Outlook.
    Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem in the registry and rename the Profiles key to Profiles-old.
    Restart Outlook and make a new profile.
    If it doesn't work, repair office and try opening outlook again.

  • Greg

    Sorry, but how do I go to the pathway you laid out? I can't find it as written.

  • Diane Poremsky

    Press Windows key + R to open the Run command.
    Type regedit and press Enter
    Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem

    Or, save this file and remove .txt from the end then double click to run. It opens the registry editor to the right location.

    Right click on Profiles and rename to Profiles-old.
    Restart Outlook. Does it work?

  • Greg

    Thank you! Outlook is open and I have both our email accounts up and running.

    Now, how do I (or can I) recover all the saved emails and folders we had setup before? Thanks!

  • Diane Poremsky

    Either import the old pst file or open it in Outlook using File, Open, Outlook Data File.

  • Greg

    It worked! Thank you so much, Diane! I think you saved my marriage....

  • tommy

    i cant open outlook

  • D Poremsky

    Can you open it in Safe mode? If not, do you get any error? What happens when you try?

  • pkincy

    outlook won't open even in safe mode. Have run scanpst.exe to no effect.

  • Diane Poremsky

    That means either the installation or the profile is corrupt. Go to Control panel, search for Mail. Open it and create a new profile. will Outlook open? If not, try repairing your installation in Programs and Features.

  • rs

    I don't know if my Outlook 2010 is in Safe Mode, but it's acting very weird. The menu icons look different from when it was installed, and it refuses to change the color of my fonts or the background page. Same for Word and Excel. I use Windows 7. I tried repairing Office, but it didn't make any difference. Also unchecked the Safe Mode box for Word; didn't make any difference.

  • D Poremsky

    It doesn't sound like safe mode - could it be in low resolution mode? The icons use like 16 colors, look like something out of the old Windows 3.1 back in the 90's.
    Try a different Windows theme, if using high contrast theme, switch to one of the "normal" themes. Check the outlook shortcut properties, is it set to use compatibility mode?

  • rs

    I think you may be on to something--that's exactly what the icons look like, very old-fashioned. I wish I understood the rest of your post. How do I choose a different Windows them? Which are the normal ones? As for compatibility, I've only used this program with Windows 7. Should I mark something else? Right now it seems to be compatible with XP Servoce Pack 3.

  • D Poremsky

    You do not want to use compatibility mode, it causes all sorts of problems. Right click on the desktop and choose Personalize - try Windows basic and see if it helps.

  • rs

    YES!!!! How did you DO that???? I spoke to three technicians--one of them even poked around my screen on a remote--and not one of them thought to do either of those things. I even chatted with a Microsoft advisor on their answerdesk site, and she told me to repair Office, which took forever and didn't change a thing.
    But I was dumb and did both things before testing Outlook, so now I don't know if scrapping the compatibility mode would have been enough. I really liked my own personalized theme (a picture I uploaded).

  • D Poremsky

    You can set the picture as the background - and I'd definitely try my favorite theme if not using compatibility mode - it should be fine.

  • rs

    Oh, no! The icons are back, but now I can't send or receive messages! The error code is 0x80042108. What to do????

  • rs

    Why won't Outlook send or receive messages???

  • D Poremsky

    Any error messages? What type of email account?

  • rs

    Never mind. After my computer rested for a few hours, it went back to sending and receiving. Whew! Thanks so much!

  • rs

    I spoke too soon. The first messages went out, then they stopped again. The error message is 0x8004210B. What to do?

  • D Poremsky

    Is it telling you the connection to the server timed out? You can raise the timeout in Account Settings > double click on account > More Settings > Advanced tab. Are you using SSL? Try setting it to Auto instead of SSL- this is on the Advanced tab.

  • Alexander

    Thanks for this guide. This resolved our issues.

    Alexander Solaat Rødland
    Surfave ITpro MVP

  • *TeaCup*

    am trying it now, same issue, can't send/reply but can receive, i was told thru Microsoft community that this issue was caused by Norton but Norton was removed and i still couldn't send/reply to messages.

  • *TeaCup*

    8x8004210B or 8: "Sending reported error. The operation timed out waiting for a response from the sending STMP server."

  • sebastian

    Thank you, this tip help a lot!!!!

  • JT

    Hi Diane...I have the same problem with Greg. I have followed what you have stated "Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWindows Messaging Subsystem in the registry and rename the Profiles key to Profiles-old" but I still could not get outlook to run. Can you help?...Thanks JT Pham

  • Tom Co

    I had exactly the same problem as rs; my outlook programme suddenly appeared all skewed with the icons ver large; your 'right click' on desktop and change the image to basic worked, thanks so much!