How to Open Outlook in Safe Mode

Start Outlook in safe mode to troubleshoot startup problems

Desktop computer showing white screen.

 pxhere

Use Outlook in safe mode if you can't open some of your Outlook windows, the settings freeze when you make changes, you suspect that a recently installed extension contains malware, or features or windows behave oddly.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, and Outlook for Office 365.

Can You Use Outlook in Safe Mode?

Even if you've been having problems with Outlook, it opens normally in safe mode because it starts without extensions or custom toolbar settings, and disables the Reading Pane. These items are common sources of problems, so, after Outlook starts in safe mode, investigate those parts of the program to see what's preventing it from opening properly.

Opening Outlook in safe mode doesn't involve using Windows in Safe Mode; the two aren't the same. You can boot Windows in Safe Mode and then open Outlook but this operation doesn't start the Outlook application in safe mode.

How to Start Outlook in Safe Mode Using the Outlook Shortcut

To open Outlook in safe mode, press and hold the Ctrl key, then select the Outlook shortcut. In the warning dialog box that appears, confirm that you want to open Outlook in safe mode by selecting Yes.

Screenshot of Safe Mode Confirmation window

Open Outlook in Safe Mode from the Command Line

Another way to open Outlook in safe mode is to use the command line:

  1. Select the keyboard shortcut Win+R to open the Run dialog box. Or, type run in the Windows Search box and press Enter.

    Screenshot showing Run dialog in Windows 10
  2. In the Run dialog box, enter outlook.exe /safe and select OK.

    Screenshot of outlook.exe/safe in Run dialog
  3. In the Choose Profile window, choose the default Outlook option and select OK to open that profile.

  4. Outlook starts in safe mode.

How to Create an Outlook Safe Mode Shortcut

If you want to create a fast way to open Outlook in safe mode without going through these steps again, you can make an Outlook safe mode shortcut.

  1. Right-click or tap-and-hold a blank area on the desktop.

  2. Select New > Shortcut.

    Screenshot of New > Shortcut
  3. Type the full path to Outlook.exe and use the "/safe" switch at the end, then select Next.

    See the example in the "Command Prompt Method" section below if you need help finding the file path.

    Screenshot of Outlook Safe Mode shortcut file path
  4. Enter a descriptive name for the shortcut such as Outlook Safe Mode.

    Screenshot of Shortcut Name
  5. Select Finish to make the shortcut to Outlook in safe mode and exit the Create Shortcut window.

You can tell if Outlook is running in safe mode if the title of the program says (Safe Mode).

To "disable" safe mode in Outlook, double-click or double-tap the regular Outlook shortcut you always use. Safe mode isn't enabled unless you use one of the methods described on this page.

Command Prompt Method

You need to know the full path to the Outlook.exe file before you can start Outlook in safe mode using Command Prompt. The path of the file depends entirely on your version of Outlook and whether it’s the 32-bit or 64-bit edition. 

Screenshot of Command Prompt window

If you don't know what to type in Command Prompt, see the next section below. Otherwise, open Command Prompt and type the following command and replace this path with the one to your Outlook.exe file:

“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\outlook.exe” /safe

After you've made the necessary changes in Outlook, close the program and reopen it with the normal shortcut you use to open Outlook. As long as you don't open Outlook with one of the methods described above, it will always start normally (not in safe mode).

In some instances, like when deleting add-ins in safe mode, run Outlook as an administrator by launching the above command in an elevated Command Prompt.

Outlook.exe Location

There are a couple of ways to find where Outlook.exe is stored. The easiest is to copy the command as you see it below and paste it directly into Command Prompt. Of course, you need to know which version of Outlook you have in order for this to work.

If you use this method, instead of typing the commands manually, highlight the text below and copy it. Go to Command Prompt, right-click the black screen, and choose Paste. Press Enter to execute the command.

Another way that doesn't require you to know which version of Outlook is installed, is to search your computer for outlook.exe. You can do that with the built-in search tool in Windows or with a third-party program like Everything.

Do not to include any of the bold text or leading spaces when you copy these commands. Copy and paste from the first double-quotes (including the quotes) all the way to /safe.

Outlook 2019/2016/365

  • 32-bit: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\outlook.exe" /safe
  • 32-bit (alternative): "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\outlook.exe" /safe
  • 64-bit: "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\outlook.exe" /safe
  • Click-to-Run 32-bit: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office 16\ClientX86\Root\Office16\outlook.exe" /safe
  • Click-to-Run 64-bit: "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 16\ClientX64\Root\Office16\outlook.exe" /safe

Outlook 2013

  • 32-bit: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\outlook.exe" /safe
  • 64-bit: "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\outlook.exe" /safe
  • Click-to-Run 32-bit: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office 15\ClientX86\Root\Office15\outlook.exe" /safe
  • Click-to-Run 64-bit: "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 15\ClientX64\Root\Office15\outlook.exe" /safe

Outlook 2010

  • 32-bit: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\outlook.exe" /safe
  • 64-bit: "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\outlook.exe" /safe
  • Click-to-Run 32-bit: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\outlook.exe" /safe
  • Click-to-Run 64-bit: "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\outlook.exe" /safe