Say No! to Compatibility Mode

Last reviewed on February 25, 2014

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)

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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