Say No! to Compatibility Mode

Last reviewed on February 25, 2014   —  12 comments

We're starting to see a lot of questions that go something like this:

I have Windows 7 on a new PC. I installed MS Office on the new PC but when trying to send emails in Outlook I get a message. "The operation failed. An object could not be found" error message. Receiving email seems to work just fine, only sending is a problem. I tried reinstalling, setting up new profiles, deleting and setting up new accounts etc but nothing seems to work

This is caused by the Compatibility mode setting.

Other error messages and issues

Cannot open your default email folders. Information store could not be opened

Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window. The server is not available. Contact your administrator if this condition persists.

When attempting to view any folder you may get this error:

Cannot display the folder. File access is denied. You do not have the permission required to access the file C:\Users\username\local settings\application data\microsoft\outlook\outlook.ost.

Office 2013 applications may return this error when the application is configured to use compatibility mode:

Microsoft Office cannot verify the license for this product. You should repair the Office program by using Control Panel.

When you right click on a file and choose Send to mail recipient, nothing happens.

You may be unable to configure additional Outlook email accounts.

Outlook Signatures are blank.

Users cannot create new pst files.

The Insert file dialog uses the old Explorer window (with a places bar), not the new Windows 7 Explorer with the Favorites and Libraries sections.

Cause: Enabling Compatibility Mode

This is caused by using compatibility mode in Windows. Users are apparently enabling this when they run the Troubleshoot Compatibility wizard. I'm not sure why users are choosing to run this, it’s not needed for any version of Outlook on Vista or Windows 7 or any other Windows OS. Compatibility mode is also not needed for any recently released application or any application that is supported on Windows 7.

There is no reason to use compatibility mode with Outlook or any other fairly new version of any application. Compatibility mode should only be used for really old programs.

If you enabled compatibility mode, disable it. If you haven’t, don’t even consider enabling it for Outlook.

If you receive error messages relating to a another program that is accessing Outlook’s data file (such as Lync), check that program’s compatibility mode settings.

Outlook is fully compatible on Windows 7, however only Outlook 2003 and newer are supported on it. If you use Outlook 2002 or 2000, enabling compatibility mode will not fix the problems and may make things worse. See Outlook on Vista and Win7? for issues and workarounds for older versions of Outlook on Windows 7 (and Vista).

Change Compatibility Settings

Check Compatibility Mode Settings

  1. To disable Compatibility mode or confirm its not enabled, find Outlook.exe file and right click, then select Properties.
  2. Click the Compatibility tab in the Properties dialog and uncheck the Compatibility mode box that says "Run this program in Compatibility Mode".

The dialog should like exactly like the screenshot shown here, with all options unchecked.

There are situations where you might want to run Outlook as an administrator but as a rule, this is not necessary except in very limited situations.

Video Tutorial

More Information

Outlook on Vista and Win7? (Outlook-tips)

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

12 responses to “Say No! to Compatibility Mode”

  1. Heidi

    Thank you for your assistance. It was great advice and guidance. I am very apprecitative to be able to complete my tasks.

  2. Visitor

    Thanks .. This was really helpful..

  3. Sunil

    Thank you so much for the write-up... it was of great help in resolving an end-user issue.

  4. Eric Shields

    I was using MS word 2003 with compatibility mode and it included certain advantages i liked, such as no pink on my office assistant, and no constant compatibility warnings such as the ones listed above. i took your advice(for outlook), and now have minimal issue (although Merlin still has a pink halo around him). Thanks again, and please get to me soon about a fix for Merlin's pink halo that doesn't require compatibility mode as does word, excel, and powerpoint.

  5. Eric Shields

    I wanted to say that my problem was easily resolved by running 'msagent' in windows ME mode. If i said that i needed help, i need it no more! I still enjoy your blog, Diane. You helped me find a solution that you didn't even say. That's genius! Thanks for all your help.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      do you have the agent hotfix installed?

  6. deca300Deca30o

    This helped me! thanks a lot :)

  7. Jon Jonas

    Still no help... still "outlook.pst cannot be opened. I've run scanpst.exe multiple times, both creating and not creating a backup. I've unstalled/reinstalled Office 2007. Out of airspeed, altitude, ideas... and ll web - soucrce advice brings me back to these steps. Anythign else I can try short of reinstalling Windows Vista?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      It's possible the pst is corrupt. Rename the pst and let Outlook make a new one. If its not too large, I can see if a commercial product will recover the data in it.

  8. derar

    i try to cut my outlook form C to D its stuck, after that i try to open my outlook, but its not working. it gives me message:
    Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window. the set of folders can't be opened. you don't have the permission required to access the file.

    please help me, all my work on this email, and i need it.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Did you try resetting the nav pane?

      Close Outlook. At the Start search field on Vista or Windows7 Start menu or in the Start menu, Run command (Windows key + R), type or paste
      outlook.exe /resetnavpane
      Then press Enter (or OK button) to restart Outlook.
      Note: Make sure there is a space between the words.

  9. derar

    i try to cut my outlook form C to D its stuck, after that i try to open my outlook, but its not working. it gives me message:
    Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window. the set of folders can't be opened. you don't have the permission required to access the file.

    also the files cut deleted bu mistake.

    please help me, all my work on this email, and i need it

  10. Valentina Stef


    I use win XP and MS Office 2003. Now I need to use Office 356 for mail. My questions are: 1. Are compatibles Outlook 2003 and Office 356? If yes, how to configure? If Not can I install only Outlook 2007 or 2010 and keep Word, Excel, and Power Point from Office 2003? Thank you

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Yes, you can install Outlook 2007 or 2010 and keep your old office suite to use with Office 365 hosted Exchange.

  11. Valentina Simo

    Thank you again

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