General failure. The system cannot find file specified.

Last reviewed on May 23, 2013

When you click on a link in an Outlook email, you may receive the following error message:

General failure. The URL was: “” The system cannot find the file specified.

This really isn’t an Outlook error, it’s a browser error, but most users will discover it when they click on a link in an Outlook email message.  It may be related to using Firefox as the default browser.

Method 1

For most users, resetting IE as the default browser will fix the problem. This can be done one of two ways:

  1. Reset everything in IE’s Tools, Internet options menu (or Control Panel, Internet options). Look on the Advanced tab for the Reset button.
  2. Resetting just the default browser in the Control Panel, Default programs applet, Set Program Access and Defaults. Change the default browser to IE. (You can also reach this dialog through IE’s Tools, Internet options menu, or Control Panel, Internet options. Look on the Programs tab for the Set Programs button.)

Quick Tip: If you use Windows 7 or Vista, begin typing ‘default’ in the Start menu’s search field to quickly find the applet. Double click on Default Programs when it comes up.

Set the default web browser to Internet ExplorerControl Panel > Default Programs > Set Program Access and Defaults > Custom > Choose a Default Web Browser. Set IE as the default.

If you prefer a different browser, set IE as default and verify the error goes away, then set your preferred browser as the default using the steps above.

Also note that some users report this fix only ‘kicks in’ after they restart Outlook or reboot.


Method 2

If the steps above don’t work, you need to edit the registry. This is more likely if you use Firefox.

  1. Close Outlook and your browser.
  2. Press Windows key + R to open the run command and type regedit in the command field then press Enter.
  3. Navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\FirefoxURL\shell\open\ddeexec
  4. Double-click the Default entry to open it.
  5. Delete the value (it should be “%1″,,0,0,,,,).
  6. Click Ok to Save and then close the Registry Editor.

Locate the FireFoxURL key

The edited value will be empty:

Registry value should be empty

Reopen Outlook and your browser.

Note: the default value of “%1″,,0,0,,,, is ok for most users; you do not need to remove it unless you are unable to open hyperlinks.

Do It For Me

If you don’t want to edit the registry yourself, you can download and run this registry file:


More Information

The following articles explain other errors and issues opening hyperlinks in Outlook.
Restrictions in Effect error
Use Firefox to open hyperlinks
Links are prefixed with Blocked::

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

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