Shortcuts and the Missing Outlook:// Protocol

Last reviewed on June 17, 2013   —  13 comments

As many users have discovered, the Outlook:// protocol no longer works outside of Outlook 2007 (and up). This protocol allows users to create shortcuts to Outlook items and open the items outside of Outlook. You can use this protocol on a folder home page, on the Web toolbar, or in the body of an Outlook item but not in a web page that does not open in a folder homepage.

See Using Outlook Links to learn how to use the Outlook:// protocol

This is because the Office installer no longer registers Outlook to a URL protocol. This is due to Microsoft not officially supporting the Outlook URL protocol as explained in KB 929590 Fortunately, Outlook still supports it, but to use it, you will need to add it as a URL protocol in the Windows Registry.

The Fix

Note: It is recommended that your make a backup copy of your registry before editing the registry.

The steps for Outlook 2010 and 2013 are the same, except you will use Office14 or Office15 in the path.

  1. Open the registry editor and select root key HKEY_CLASS_ROOT
  2. Add a new Key named “outlook”
  3. Edit the (Default) string value and add URL:Outlook Folders
  4. Add the new string value “URL Protocol”, no string value is required
  5. Add subkeys \shell\open\command
  6. Select the Default Icon key and enter:
  7. C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE
    Note: If you are using a 64-bit Windows operating system with 32-bit Outlook, then instead of “Program Files” use “Program Files (x86)”.
  8. Select the command key value under shell\open, edit the (Default) string value and add the following string: (Note this assumes you installed Office in the default location/) You need to include the double quotes in the string.
  9. "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE" /select "%1"

Outlook Protocol key

You can test it by clicking here. If Outlook opens to your Inbox, the keys were created correctly.


To make it easier for users to restore the protocol, TeamScope created a document with step-by-step instructions and a registry file. You can download Registering Outlook 2007 to a URL from their website.

Do It For Me

To use, download the correct file for your system then double click to add the key to your registry.

If you are using the same “bitness” of Windows and Outlook (both are 32-bit or both are 64-bit):


If you are using 32-bit Outlook on 64-bit Windows:

Note: Outlook does not automatically recognize the Outlook protocol when you type a url containing it into the body of any item. However, the protocol works if you set it as a hyperlink.

More Information

Known issues when you develop custom solutions for Office Outlook 2007
For general information on registering an application to a URL protocol, see

About Diane Poremsky

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.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlook forums by

13 responses to “Shortcuts and the Missing Outlook:// Protocol”

  1. R.D. Kripner

    We are having more than our share of problems with Outlook 2007. Outlook works just fine on my side, however when I log off my side and my wife logs in on her side, Outlook will not function for her. We have tried deleting and reloading office 2007 to no avail. Has anyone have a solution to this issue ????

    1. Diane Poremsky

      What exactly happens when she tries to use it?

  2. Duran

    This is all great info Diane. I finally got my hyperlinks to open outlook, though I now have a new problem. When I already have outlook open and I click on a link pointing to a folder in outlook, a new outlook window is opened. So at that case I would have two instances of outlook open. How can I make it so that the link opens my folder in my already open outlook? I'm using Outlook 2007 on Windows XP. Thank you in advance!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I'll look into it - if you used the reg file I supplied, try the one from TeamScope. They should be identical, but maybe I missed something he did not.

      BTW, you have two windows open, not two instances. While it seems like splitting hairs, it's not a "full blown Outlook, the resource hog" - it's just another window. It's no different than using right click, open in new window on any Outlook folder.

  3. Fabrizio

    Dear Diane,
    I followed all the steps above but I encountred a big issue. When I click the HREF (outlook:+GUID of the email record) I just can only open the outlook application but the selected email.
    Do you have any tip?
    best regards,

  4. Fabrizio

    I also want to clarify that my href is in a html page,not in a outlook mail.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      It should work outside of outlook. I tried to repro it last night but couldn't get it to work on a system with outlook 2013 installed, even though 2010 was open. I'll try today with a different system then see if it will work 2013.

  5. Jitendra Kumar

    hay thanks a ton for this valuable information

  6. hathija

    Hello !
    Thanks a lot for the post. For my project i would like to do a link to access Outlook Adress book via a protocol like Outlook:AddressBook but it doesn't work for me ? Do you know the right shortcut ?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You can link to the contacts folder or a specific contact using a url and the outlook:// protocol, but not to the address book specifically.

  7. Andy Mercer

    I've been working on integrating Outlook direct folder links into an Office 2013 web app, and so I tried this out. I have gotten it mostly working, except that it keeps opening a brand new instance of Outlook. Is there any way to have it just open the current running instance and move the view to the new folder? Thanks!

  8. Omri Alon

    Hi diane,
    That was a great article.
    Do you know which file works on windows server 2003 with outlook 2007?

    Omri Alon

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Assuming it's 32-bit Windows, - if you have 63bit windows, it's the other outlook 2007 file.

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