How to Make Unresponsive Hyperlinks Work In Outlook

Step-by-step instructions

Woman using laptop in home office
Hero Images/Getty Images

When you see the hand cursor pointing to a hyperlink offering something you want, you know what to do: click.

However, nothing happens. You click again and again — more feverishly, then furiously — on the obvious link in the email you received. Outlook makes no move. Your browser does not come up. You are taken nowhere.

Unfortunately, this can happen to you in many email programs, such as Windows Mail, Outlook Express, Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, and others. It is usually not the email client's fault but a matter of the association that links hyperlinks to your browser becomes broken or distorted in some way.

Fortunately, you can usually restore this association. For a quick fix, try changing your default browser and then restore your old favorite. Sometimes this is all that is needed.

More thorough and, thus, more fun is the following approach, though.

Make Links Work in Windows Vista

To restore links in email programs using Windows Vista:

  • Open the Windows menu.
  • Type default programs under Start Search.
  • Click Default Programs under Programs.
  • Now click Set your default programs.
  • Highlight Internet Explorer under Programs.
  • Click Set this program as default.
  • Now click OK.
  • Close the default programs window.

Of course, you can now choose a different browser from the same Programs list and use Set this program as default to make it your default.

Windows 98, 2000, and XP

To make web pages open again when you click links in emails using Windows XP and earlier:

  • Make sure neither Outlook Express nor Internet Explorer is open.
  • Select Control Panel from the Start menu.
  • Click Internet Options.
    • If you do not see Internet Options right away, click Network and Internet Connections before.
  • Go to the Programs tab.
  • Make sure Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser is checked.
  • Click OK.
  • Close Internet Explorer.
  • Re-open Internet Explorer.
  • Click Yes when asked Internet Explorer asks "Internet Explorer is not currently your default browser. Would you like to make it your default browser?"
    • If Internet Explorer does not ask:
    • Close Internet Explorer
    • Select My Computer from the Start menu.
    • Choose Tools > Folder Options from the menu.
    • Go to the File Types tab.
    • Highlight (NONE) URL:HyperText Transfer Protocol.
    • Click Advanced.
    • Highlight open.
    • Click Remove.
    • Click Yes.
    • Click OK.
    • Now click Close.
    • Start Internet Explorer.
  • If you use a browser other than Internet Explorer, start it and make sure it is the new default.

If the above does not work, try this:

  • Now select Run from the Start menu.
  • Type iexplore /rereg.
  • Click OK.

Or, if that fails, continue with the following. Proceed very cautiously, though.

  • Select Run from the Start menu.
  • Type regsvr32 urlmon.dll.
  • Click OK.
  • Click OK again.
  • Repeat the Start > Run procedure with the following commands in this order, maybe checking after each for returning function:
    • regsvr32 shdocvw.dll
    • regsvr32 mshtml.dll
    • regsvr32 browseui.dll