Last reviewed on July 16, 2015   —  14 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, 2013, and 2016 are the same, except you will the correct path to Outlook.exe. In Outlook 2016, it’s C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\outlook.exe, if using Click-to-run (most people will have click to run).

  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)”. Don’t forget to use the correct version of Office!
  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


  1. R.D. Kripner says

    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 ????

  2. Duran says

    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!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      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 says

    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,

    • Diane Poremsky says

      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.

  4. hathija says

    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 ?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      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.

  5. Andy Mercer says

    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!

  6. Omri Alon says

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

    Omri Alon

  7. gardoglee says

    I had a slight issue when I used the downloadable regedit file. The file created the correct sequence of keys/subkeys as outlook->shell->open, but then placed a subkey under Open of "Command", and inserted the program name ""C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\OUTLOOK.EXE" /select "%1"" as the Default string for key "Command". This did not work for me. However, after looking at the instructions above I tried copying the Default string vale from "Command" to the Default string value of the key above "Open". that worked. I am not enough of a windows person to know exaclty why the difference, but I thought it might help some others if they ran into the same issue.

    This posting is awesome! Thank you, as it solves my problem, which was that all the various formats for Outlook reference hyperlinks were not working for me. My sortable ToDo lists in Access and Excel that reference emails to which I must respond and meetings for which I must prepare is much enhanced. I prefer a list I can format, sort, export, link and enhance as I like to the native Outlook task list.

    And for a simple macro to make the pasteable link for an Outllok item (probably already somewhere else on this site, but I did not find it here):

    'Adds a link to the currently selected message to the clipboard
    Sub AddLinkToMessageInClipboard()
    Dim objMail As Object
    Dim doClipboard As New DataObject
    Dim message As String

    'One and ONLY one message muse be selected
    If Application.ActiveExplorer.Selection.Count 1 Then
    MsgBox ("Select one and ONLY one message.")
    Exit Sub
    End If

    Set objMail = Application.ActiveExplorer.Selection.Item(1)

    doClipboard.SetText ""


    End Sub

    Note: You must add the "MS Forms" library reference to support the "doClipboard" object, in order to paste the link to the clipboard, if it is not already default in your configuration.

    The original macro is from I found that their form with [[...]] bracketing and the subsequent bracketing did not work for me, so this is a simplfied version.The macro is useful in that you can create a hyperlink from whatever the selected item is in your outlook session, and then paste it into something like an Excel spreadsheet, a shortcut, or Word document.

    BTW, the resulting link will open the Outlook item from your local Outlook file without requiring that you log into Outlook or present your Outlook password when the link is invoked on your machine. That implies some nasty things about Outlook security, or lack thereof. Be warned!

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