How to use Outlook's Command line switches

When you're having problems with Outlook you may be told to start Outlook using a specific command line switch.

To do this:

Close Outlook.

At the Start menu, Run command (or open the Run command by pressing Windows Key (windows key icon) + R type:

Outlook /switch

Then click OK to start Outlook. (There is a space between outlook and /.)

This screenshot shows how you enter it, using the /cleanreminders switch as an example.

command lines

Occasionally you'll need to use the full path to Outlook, then the command line looks like this:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\Outlook.exe" /switch


Before using a command line switch, you need to close Outlook and verify it's closed in Task Manager's Processes tab.

Paths that include spaces between words must be enclosed in quotation marks (") and are case sensitive.

If you use Vista or Windows 7, you can type the command line in the Start Search field on the Start menu.

You'll need the full path if you  want to create desktop shortcuts using a switch, such as to open Outlook to a specific folder:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\Outlook.exe" /select outlook:calendar

Frequently used Switches:

This group of switches are the most commonly used switches. (A complete list of switches is in the next section.)


Clears and regenerates reminders.


Restores default views. Use with care as all custom views you created are lost.

/profile profilename

Loads the specified profile. If your profile name contains a space, enclose the profile name in quotation marks.

This switch is useful when there are multiple users of a Windows logon and each has their own Outlook profile.  Create desktop shortcuts to load a specific profile – use the following command line in the shortcut, replacing my name with your profile name:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\Outlook.exe" /profile "Diane Poremsky"


Opens the Choose Profile dialog box regardless of the Options setting on the Tools menu.


Outlook 2007 and 2010 only. Resets the navigation pane back to the default when Outlook starts.


Outlook 2007 and 2010 only. Resets the to-do bar pane to the default settings when Outlook starts.


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

Can also open Outlook in Safe mode by holding Ctrl key as you click on the Outlook icon


All Switches


Creates an item with the specified file as an attachment.


Outlook /a "C:\My Documents\labels.doc"

If no item type is specified, IPM.Note form is assumed. This switch cannot be used with message classes that aren't based on Outlook.

/altvba otmfilename

Opens the VBA program specified in otmfilename, rather than %appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook\VbaProject.OTM. Use this switch when you need to run macros not in your VBAProject file.

/autorun macroname

Opens Outlook and immediately runs the macro specified in macroname.

/c messageclass

Creates a new item of the specified message class, works for any valid MAPI form.


  • /c ipm.activity creates a Journal entry
  • /c ipm.appointment creates an appointment
  • /c creates a contact
  • /c ipm.note creates an e-mail message
  • /c ipm.stickynote creates a note
  • /c ipm.task creates a task


Prompts for the default manager of e-mail, news, and contacts.


Starts Outlook and deletes client-based rules. Used by non-Exchange account users.


Deletes the logging records saved when a manager or a delegate declines a meeting. Used by Exchange Server accounts.


Removes Search Folders from the Microsoft Exchange server store.


Clears and regenerates free/busy information. This switch can only be used when you are able to connect to your Microsoft Exchange server.


Removes invalid profile keys and recreates default registry keys where applicable.


Launches Outlook with a clean Personal Folders file (.pst)


Clears and regenerates reminders.


Starts Outlook and deletes client- and server-based rules.


Deletes all Schedule+ data (free/busy, permissions, and .cal file) from the server and enables the free/busy information from the Outlook Calendar to be used and viewed by all Schedule+ 1.0 users.


Starts Outlook and deletes server-based rules. Used only with Exchange server accounts.


Overrides the programmatic lockout that determines which of your computers (when running Outlook simultaneously) processes meeting items. The lockout process helps prevent duplicate reminder messages. This switch clears the lockout on the computer it is used, enabling Outlook to process meeting items.


Deletes the subscription messages and properties for subscription features. Used with SharePoint alerts.


Restores default views. Use with care as all custom views you created are lost.


Starts Outlook without figuring out if Outlook should be the default client in the first run.


Opens the specified message file (.msg) as an OLE embedding. Also used without command-line parameters for standard OLE co-create.


Opens the new window in "explorer" mode (link bar on).

/f msgfilename

Opens the specified message file (.msg) or Microsoft Office saved search (.oss).


Starts Outlook as if it were run for the first time.


Opens a new window in "folder" mode (Navigation Pane off).

/hol holfilename

Opens the specified .hol file.

/ical icsfilename

Opens the specified .ics file.

/importprf prffilename

Launches Outlook and opens/imports the defined MAPI profile (*.prf). If Outlook is already open, queues the profile to be imported on the next clean launch.

/l olkfilename

Opens the specified .olk file.

/launchtraininghelp assetid

Opens a Help window with the Help topic specified in assetid.

/m emailname

Provides a way for the user to add an e-mail name to the item. Use either the full address or let alias resolve. Only works in conjunction with the /c command-line parameter.


Outlook.exe /c ipm.note /m

Outlook.exe /c ipm.note /m dianep


Starts Outlook without loading outcmd.dat (customized toolbars). With older versions of Outlook the *.fav file doesn't load.


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


Starts Outlook without checking mail at startup.


Starts Outlook with the Reading Pane off and removes the option from the View menu.

/p msgfilename

Prints the specified message (.msg). Does not work with HTML.

/profile profilename

Loads the specified profile. If your profile name contains a space, enclose the profile name in quotation marks.


Opens the Choose Profile dialog box regardless of the Options setting on the Tools menu.


Starts Outlook using an existing Outlook window, if one exists. Can be used in combination with /explorer or /folder. The Outlook shortcut in the Quick Launch bar uses the /recycle switch.


Resets default folder names (such as Inbox or Sent Items) to default names in the current Office user interface language.

For example, if you first connect to your mailbox Outlook using a Russian user interface, the Russian default folder names cannot be renamed. To change the default folder names to another language such as Japanese or English, you can use this switch to reset the default folder names after changing the user interface language or installing a different language version of Outlook.


Restores missing folders for the default delivery location.


Clears and regenerates the Navigation Pane for the current profile. Removes all Shortcuts and Favorite Folders. Has the same effect as deleting profilename.xml in your user directory.


Opens Outlook and displays the remote procedure call (RPC) connection status dialog.

/s filename

Loads the specified shortcuts file (.fav). Use to load *.fav files created in older versions of Outlook.


Starts Outlook without extensions, Reading Pane, or toolbar customization.


Starts Outlook with the Reading Pane off. New to Outlook 2003.


Starts Outlook without checking mail at startup. New to Outlook 2003.


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


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

/select foldername

Starts Outlook and opens the specified folder in a new window.


"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\Outlook.exe" /select outlook:calendar

outlook /select "outlook:Inbox\Old Messages"


Starts Outlook and forces a detection of new meeting requests in the Inbox, and then adds them to the calendar.

/t oftfilename

Opens the specified .oft file.

/v vcffilename

Opens the specified .vcf file.

/vcal vcsfilename

Opens the specified .vcs file.

/x xnkfilename

Opens the specified .xnk file.

  • Pingback: Outlook tip – What are Outlook switches and why should I use them? « littlekthenerd()

  • Diana

    The cleanprofile nor the profile command worked at all. Needed it urgently as Outlook turns my emails from HTML to plain text as soon as I use an add-on. Microsoft identified it as an Outlook problem and suggested to use the "Clean Profile" method. I followed the steps above for Windows 7, unfortunately nothing happens at all.

  • D Poremsky

    What addon are you using? Are incoming messages changed or outgoing? What antivirus do you use?

    (If you haven't guessed, I think the problem is not with your profile.)

  • WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

    Hello Diane, I also tried the profile switch with and without the "" for my profile name, but it both opens the same profile..

    This is the line I am using..

    "C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice14OUTLOOK.EXE" /profile GW

    "C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice14OUTLOOK.EXE" /profile Outlook

    I tried

    "C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice14OUTLOOK.EXE" /profile "GW"
    "C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice14OUTLOOK.EXE" /profile "Outlook"

    as well, but still opens same..

    I am using Outlook 2010 on Win 7..

    Any tips pls..??

  • Phil Ready

    Hi, does the /cleanreminders switch stop reminders returning from past?

  • D Poremsky

    It removes dismissed reminders that won't go away but won't get rid of all past due reminders - if you want to stop all past due reminders, turn off reminders in options, reminders then restart outlook and enable reminders again.