Tip 16: Changing Outlook's Startup Folder

I get a lot of questions like this:

Can I get Outlook to open in [some other folder] so that I can see [things] without having to first click the Outlook shortcut?

You sure can!

One of my favorite features in Outlook is the ability to start in any folder.
Outlook 2003 (and up) supports any folder in your mailbox or personal stores (*.pst), including search folders while Outlook 2002 and earlier include only the default folders in the Start in list. You’ll need to use the /select switch to open Outlook to folders not listed in the dialog.

Outlook 2010 and 2013

In Outlook 2010 and 2013, you'll need to click on File tab, then Options and select Advanced . Select a new start up folder from the folder picker at Start Outlook in this folder: .
Choose startup folder

Outlook 2003 and 2007

In Outlook 2003 and 2007, you'll set this in Tools, Options, Other tab, Advanced – select the start up folder at the very top of the dialog.

Tools, Options, Other, Advanced

Outlook 2002 and older

Users of older Outlook versions are limited to using folders in the default data file and will need to create a shortcut pointing to another folder and use the shortcut to open Outlook.

Use a command line switch

You can open any version of Outlook to any folder using a desktop shortcut or command line switch.

Create a desktop shortcut or enter the command line in Start Menu, Run. (You can press Windows Key + R to open the Run command.)

The command line will look like:
Outlook.exe /select outlook:CalendarNew
(Replace "calendarnew" with the folder name (and path as needed))

In a few cases, you may need to make a shortcut using the full path to Outlook. The command line will look something like:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\outlook.exe" /select Outlook:Hotmail\Inbox

Tip: To get the proper path for any folder in older versions, show the Web toolbar and select the folder. Copy the path from the Address bar.

When you use the shortcut, you can use any folder in the profile. If the folder is in a different data file, you need to format the path like this:


For example, to open the Gmail Inbox in the screenshot, you would use this for the path:


To start up in the Unread Search folder in a non-default pst, use the following switch:

outlook.exe /select "Outlook:\pst_name_in_folder_list\Search Folders\Unread Mail"

Use the pst name and construct a folder path

More Command lines

Published August 12, 2003. Last reviewed on October 23, 2013.

  • JeffMarkley

    I have Outlook 13 with Windows 7 64bit. Have been using fine for a month or more until two days ago when Outlook will not remain open. Crashes either with AppCrash or BEX error message under details....any thoughts?

    I did open in SafeMode but I had to create another user (right vernacular?).

    Help please!


  • Diane Poremsky

    So it working in safe mode only if you create a new profile? Or did you mean that you created a new windows user?

    Your profile may be corrupt, or one of support files is corrupt. The easiest fix for either is to make a new profile and point it to your existing pst files. IMAP, Outlook.com, and Exchange data files will be recreated.

  • D Poremsky

    Hmmm. You should have been able to use Safe mode with your existing Outlook profile.
    Try repairing the office installation. If that still fails, what type of email account do you have?

  • Jeff

    Thx for the reply, Diana.

    Every time I tried to use the existing profile, Outlook crashed immediately. I learned to rename the .ost files (I had four for some reason) and restart Outlok. It opened fine and my outlook.com information imported successfully.

    With that, I deleted the renamed .ost files and all appears well! Hope this makes sense!


  • D Poremsky

    Cool. Thanks for the update.