Problems Opening Outlook

by Brendan O'Brien

Outlook, a Microsoft email, calendar and task application, is used by millions of people around the world. It is typically a dependable software application that helps users read, send and organize email, and view and amend their calendar and track tasks. However, if and when Outlook does not operate correctly, it can be frustrating for users. One of the most common problems is when Outlook does not open when users clicks on the icon on their desktop or in their applications folder.

Corrupt File

One reason why Outlook does not open when prompted is that the computer has a corrupted file. The file in question is the OUTCMD.DAT file that is buried in the Outlook program. This file contains custom changes that the user has made to his toolbar, which could be infected or corrupted by some spyware or adware, resulting in Outlook not booting. To remove the OUTCMD.DAT file, close Outlook and click on "Start." Click on "Find" or "Search," and then choose "Files" or "Folders." Type "OUTCMD.DAT" in the Search For box. Delete all of the resulting files. Try to reopen Outlook.

Update Software

Not regularly updating Microsoft software could also lead to an unresponsive Outlook program. To update Microsoft software, including Office and Outlook applications, go to the "Start" menu and then click on "Control Panel." Click on the "System" icon and then click on the "Automatic Updates" tab. Click "Performance and Maintenance," click "System," and then click the "Automatic Updates" tab.


A major cause of Outlook not opening could be not the software, but the computer itself. Updates to software or the addition of new software to the system could use more resources, resulting in less resources available for Outlook to open correctly. Users should check their computer hardware specifications and compare it to what is prescribed by Microsoft on its website. Outlook 2007 minimum requirements, for example, are 256 megabytes of memory, a 500 megahertz processor and a 1.5 gigabyte hard disk.


Memory may also be an issue if Outlook does not open when prompted. One solution to a lack of memory is to close some other programs and applications that are running. If there are other Microsoft applications such as Word or Excel, they will eat up computer resources and may, as a result, cause sluggish response when attempting to open another application. Shut down these programs and try again. Another way of solving the lack of memory is to add more memory to the computer.


The most dramatic and aggressive solution is to uninstall Outlook on the personal computer and re-install the software when it is not working properly. The process begins by backing up all of the user's important email, calendar items and tasks. It also requires the user to back up all Microsoft Office documents. The user then goes into Add and Remove Programs and uninstalls Microsoft Office. The user then re-installs Microsoft Office. This will require placing the Microsoft Office disc in the CD drive and following the prompts to install.

About the Author

Brendan O'Brien is a professional journalist in Milwaukee, Wis. He has worked for several news organizations, newspapers such as the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" and trade magazines during his career of more than 15 years. He is currently a freelance writer who works for several publications.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera "Glion Classroom - Bulle campus" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: GIHE (Glion Institute of Higher Education) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.