What is Outlook

Outlook is one of the world’s first webmail services, founded in 1996 as Hotmail. It is a web-based suite of contacts, tasks, webmail, and calendaring services from Microsoft. It allows you to bring all your email accounts and calendars in one spot that is convenient.

Cannot start Microsoft Outlook

When this occurs, the type of error message shown depends on which Outlook version you are using.

Cannot start Microsoft Outlook

The main cause of this problem according to Microsoft is a corrupted Navigation Pane settings file – username.xml where ‘username’ is the name of your outlook profile. A symptom that the file is corrupted is when the file is 0 kb. The exact reason for this is not known yet but all versions of Microsoft outlook from 2003 to the most recent one can be affected.

It may also be as a result of running your Mail in the compatibility mode, or because you are using a profile created in an older Mail version, or if the Outlook data file (.pst or .ost) was deleted or damaged as the result of incorrect uninstallation or reinstallation of Hotmail.

Outlook 2010: “Microsoft Outlook has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience. “

Outlook 2007: “Cannot open your default e-mail folders. The information store could not be opened.”

Outlook 2003: “Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Unable to open the Outlook window. Invalid XML, the view cannot be loaded.

Fixing “cannot start Microsoft Outlook”

These are the suggested troubleshooting steps for the four most common problems that prevent Microsoft Outlook from starting. They are listed in order of their frequency and efficiency.

Fixing "cannot start Microsoft Outlook"

  • Recover Navigation Pane configuration file
  • Repair your Outlook PST file using Inbox Repair tool
  • Create a new Outlook profile and import data from the old PST file
  • Turn off Compatibility Mode
  • Start Outlook in Safe Mode
  • Fix Outlook hanging on Loading Profile

Microsoft Outlook stuck on loading profile

Did you get an Outlook not responding error? Is Outlook stuck on a screen that simply says “Processing”? Or does Mail hang, freeze, or stop working when you’re opening a file or sending an email message? Mail may hang on loading your profile or stop responding (freezing) for various reasons.

  1. Outlook may hang because its data files are being accessed by other applications

When Outlook starts, it needs to access and lock its data files (.pst or .ost files) in order to read and write to them. If your data files are already being accessed (or locked) by other applications, Hotmail will hang on “loading profile…” while waiting for the data files to become available.

The following may be responsible for such a situation.

(i.) Third party applications are syncing with Mail at that moment (for example Google Calendar, Microsoft Communicator etc).

Solution: Identify the installed applications that might require synchronizing with Hotmail and stop these applications from their sync process or wait for them to finish.

(ii.) Your anti-virus is scanning your data files.

Solution: Disable your anti-virus and see if the problem is solved.

(iii.) Your Windows search engine is currently reading / indexing your data files.

Solution: Stop the indexing service and see if Outlook loads fine.

(iv.) There is an earlier Outlook process / session that still runs in the background, locking your data files.

Solution: Start the Windows Task Manager and kill (end process) the outlook.exe processes that are running, then try again to start Outlook.

  1. Outlook may hang because of a conflict with a 3rd party program

This situation ought not to happen but it does. For example, it is notorious that SonicWall VPN might cause Mail to stop loading and the only solution is to uninstall SonicWall.

(i.) Outlook  used to load fine until recently when you installed some applications

Solution: Check the applications that you installed or updated in the past days and uninstall them to see if the problem gets solved.

  1. Outlook may hang because its data files are corrupted

There are various reasons why your Hotmail data files may become corrupted. Normally, if Outlook detects that its data files are corrupted, it should immediately start the data file repair process. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always detect that a data file is corrupted, so Hotmail hangs up while loading.

Solution: Run the ScanPST tool available with the Outlook installation.

  1. Outlook may hang because other Outlook files or settings are damaged

If your hard disk is damaged or if you recently had to deal with some viruses, your Mail files may have been damaged and it may cause Outlook to hang while loading.

Solution: To repair your Outlook installation, simply go to your Windows Control Panel -> Programs (or Add/Remove Programs, depending on your Windows version), find the Microsoft Office installation in the programs list and choose to repair it. Please note that, depending on your Office version, you may need to provide the Office installation disk.

Also, if somehow your Outlook settings are damaged (usually because of a 3rd party software or add-in), you should try to load Outlook in safe mode. To launch Hotmail in safe mode, simply hold the CTRL key and double click on Mail icon to run it. If Outlook starts well in safe mode, you need to check if there is a conflict with a 3rd party program.

  1. Outlook may hang because the dialog box is open.

Some things that you do in Mail asks for confirmation. For example, the first time you try to “Dismiss All” on a list of reminders, Hotmail asks you if you’re sure you want to do that. If you don’t choose an option on that dialog box, Outlook won’t let you do anything else.

Solution: Check for open dialog boxes. Pressing Alt+Tab will help you switch from window to window and help you see what dialog boxes might be stopping Hotmail from responding.

  1. Outlook may be working on a large or long process

If you try to delete or move a large number of messages at once, Outlook can appear to hang, but really, it’s working behind the scenes.

Solution: Check the status bar at the bottom of the screen. If Mail is performing some operation on hundreds or thousands of messages at once, it might appear to be stuck. Give Outlook a few minutes to finish the process and it should start to work again.