Outlook 2019 / 365 is stuck at startup – how to fix?

Dorothy sent us the following question:

Here’s an issue i just encountered: After launching Microsoft Outlook 365  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 with Windows 11 if that’s helpful for your troubleshooting this. I wonder why the software doesn’t open.. If it helps, a friend mentioned i should be using a specific command to launch a clean Outlook instance so that the installation can be repaired.. Any pointers on how to recover my Outlook access are appreciated up-front.

By all means, this is a common Outlook problem, which you should be able to handle. In order to start troubleshoot this we need to be able to launch Outlook without the add-ins firing up. That is accomplished in the so-called Outlook safe mode.

Opening Outlook in safe mode

  1. We’ll safe launch Outlook using the Run command line application. Assuming you are on Windows 10 or 11, 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. Then, hit OK.
  3. The Outlook login window will come up.
  4. Now, you’ll need to go ahead and select a profile for Outlook. Go ahead and select the default one, then hit OK.
  5. Outlook will launch in Safe Mode.

Our next step will be to disable your Add-Ins (see instructions in the next section) and  finally restart Outlook.

Note: Few readers asked us how do they know that Outlook started in Safe Mode? Whenever Outlook launches in that mode, that will be written in the upper side of your screen and visible in Mail, Calendar, People, Tasks panes.

Note: You can turn off the safe mode by simply closing Outlook and opening again by hitting the Outlook icon on desktop, task bar or program list.

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.

Try to Reset your Outlook Views

If you have customized the look and feel of your Outlook navigation panes, be aware that you might encounter startup hiccups. Chances are that Outlook might encounter an issue opening the default Outlook window View.

If that’s the case, you might need to reset your customization to let Outlook launch correctly. 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 repair and probably re-build your Outlook profile (or even create a new profile altogether) to access your email, we’ll cover this in one of our upcoming guides.

Outlook safe mode reader questions

Here are a few follow up reader questions that we have received as a follow up on this post:

Start Outlook using Keyboard Shortcuts

An alternative way to safe-launch Outlook is to hold the Ctrl key while clicking the Outlook desktop shortcut.

What to do if Outlook keeps launching in safe mode?

There could be times that even after fixing an Add-in launch issue, Outlook will continue to launch in safe mode. If this is the case, then hit the Windows Search magnifying glass, type Run and then type Outlook.exe, this will launch the program in normal mode. If this is not helping, the there is probably a failing Add-in issue. To fix that, go through the steps outlined in the section at the beginning of this tutorial.

Outlook fails to launch in safe mode – what to do?

  1. Reboot your computer.
  2. Execute the process outlined at the beginning of this tutorial.

How do i know that Outlook launched in safe mode?

That will be clearly indicated in the upper side of the Outlook screen.

Kindly leave us a comment in case of questions.

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