Can’t start Outlook.. How to launch Outlook in safe mode?

One reader sent us the following question:

Here’s an issue i just encountered: After launching Microsoft Outlook to access my email i get stuck.. the login window comes up and stays for a while and then an error message stating that “the Outlook Window can’t open” comes up. I am using a Windows PC if that’s helpful for your to help troubleshooting this. Any pointers on how to recover my Outlook access are appreciated up-front.

Thanks for the question, indeed a tricky one to troubleshoot online, but we’ll definitely try :-)

First and foremost, i would assume that you are using Outlook 2016, although fixing this for earlier versions is not majorly different.

As you mentioned that the Outlook login dialog came up and stayed for a while, we might probably want to first look into any Outlook COM add-ins that are installed in your system and for some reason are not firing correctly. Simply put, these add-ins extend the functionality of Outlook for example to allow you to interact with PDF files, integrate with OneNote, work with SharePoint, launch a Skype meeting,  etc’.

The thing is that in order to troubleshoot this we need to be able to launch Outlook 2016 without the add-ins firing up. That is accomplished with the so-called Outlook Safe mode.

Launching Outlook in safe mode

Kindly proceed as following:

  1. We first want to fire off Outlook using the Run application. Assuming you are on Windows 10, hit on the Search Windows magnifying glass and type Run (or Start and the Run in Windows 7).
  2. Then, go ahead and type Outlook /safe and hit OK.



  1. The Outlook login window will come up.
  2. Now, you’ll need to go ahead and select a profile for Outlook. Go ahead and select the default one, then hit OK.


  1. Now Outlook will come up in Safe Mode.
  2. Next is to disable your Add-Ins and restart Outlook.

Note: How do we know that Outlook started in Safe Mode? That’s written in the upper side of your screen and visible in Mail, Calendar, People, Tasks panes.

Turning off Outlook Add-ins

Proceed as following:

  1. Once in Outlook, go ahead and hit the File menu (top-left in the main menu bar).
  2. Then select Options.
  3. The Outlook Options dialog opens up.
  4. Now, from the left pane, go ahead and select Add-Ins
  5. Then in the bottom of the page, in the Manage combo box, select COM Add-ins and hit Go.
  6. Go ahead and uncheck all entries in the Add-Ins list.
  7. Once done hit on OK.
  8. Now restart Outlook (in normal mode) by clicking the Outlook icon in your desktop or Start menu.
  9. If Outlook starts normally, enable additional Add-Ins from the list and re-launch Outlook to verify it comes up.

If this didn’t help, proceed to the next section.

Reset Outlook Views

In case that you have customized your Outlook navigation pane, chances are that Outlook might encounter an issue opening the default Outlook window View.

In order to reset the navigation pane settings, proceed as following:

  1. On Windows 10, hit on the Search Windows magnifying glass and type Run (or Start and the Run in Windows 7).
  2. Then, go ahead and type Outlook /resetnavpane, then hit OK.
  3. Now try to startup Outlook again

If this didn’t help, you might need to create a different Outlook profile, we’ll cover this in one of our upcoming guides.

Kindly leave us a comment in case of questions.


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