5 Common Microsoft Outlook Issues and Their Solutions

Featured Image Common Microsoft Outlook Issues Solutions

Microsoft Outlook, while popular, is not a perfect email tool. There are many common issues that users face that can spoil the experience. Here is a list of the common issues of Microsoft Outlook and the best approaches.

Note: due to various Outlook versions on the market, there are different approaches to solve the common issues. Our solutions here work best with Outlook 2016 and above.

1. Outlook Send/Receive Error

The Outlook Send/Receive error is the most common annoying problem that many users have reported. According to the Microsoft Support website, there are many solutions. We will cover the most useful ones below. But before that, check the following solutions first, which are easier and will fix the error in most cases.

  • Ensure that you are connected to the Internet.
  • Clean up any messages that are stuck in your Outbox.
  • Ensure that your Outlook email settings are correct.

Only when these simple solutions don’t work, should you proceed to one of the following methods.  

Solution A: Use Microsoft Outlook Inbox Repair Tool

Go to the Control Panel from the Windows 10 Start menu and change the appearance of icons to “small.” You will be able to see a File Explorer Options tab. Click it to open a new window.

Outlook Issues File Explorer Options 1

Go to the “View” tab and check “Show hidden files, folders, and drives.”

Outlook Issues Show Hidden Files 1

From the Windows 10 Start menu, open the “Scanpst.exe” file. It will lead to the Inbox Repair tool. Click “Start” to repair the Outlook client. This takes care of the Send/Receive issue and many other error-related problems.

Outlook Issues Inbox Repair Tool 1

Solution B: Open Microsoft Outlook in Safe Mode

Another way to fix the Send/Receive error is to open Microsoft Outlook in Safe mode. It will help bypass any bugs in the client that will not go away before the next restart/update.

Go to the Start menu and enter outlook.exe /safe. This will launch Outlook in Safe mode, which is the older Outlook client.

Outlook Issues Outlook In Safe Mode

Click “Show Progress” and “Download Preferences.” You can choose to download headers and then full items. The Send/Receive error should be resolved by this step.

Outlook Issues Download Preferences 1

Solution C: Terminate and Restart the Outlook App

As a last resort, you can go to the Start menu in Windows 10 and search “Apps & Features.”

Outlook Issues Apps And Features 1

Select “Mail and Calendar” in the apps if Outlook has been kept as the default. Click “Terminate” and Restart the app.

Outlook Issues Terminate Mail And Calendar 1

In the extremely rare case none of these methods work, go to “Step 5,” which is Microsoft’s latest approach to make Outlook failure-free.

2. Cannot Open Outlook Window/Outlook Won’t Open

This is a common error indicating the data file where all Outlook information has been stored cannot be opened. The problem can be fixed simply by restarting Outlook in safe mode (see above).

Another method is to use “reset navigation pane,” a feature that resets the navigation pane settings to its default settings. This is effective in doing a clean start to the Outlook client.

Enter outlook.exe /resetnavpane in the Start menu to reset the navigation pane.

Outlook Issues Reset Navpane 1

You can also close the Taskbar window display of the Outlook.exe file using a simple Ctrl + Alt + Del. On a successful restart, the problem should be resolved.

3. Increasing PST File Size

If you use Outlook frequently, you may have accumulated an enormous number of emails. This leads to Outlook slowdowns, as the email client has to process a larger PST file.

To fix this issue in Outlook 2016 and above, go to “File -> Account Settings -> Account Settings.”

Outlook Issues Account Information 1

Once the Account Settings window is open, go to “Data Files -> Settings.” Click “Outlook Data File Settings” in the “Advanced” tab, then “Compact now.” In just a short time, the PST size will return to normal.

Outlook Issues Compact Now Ost 1

4. Slowdown by Add-in Applications

Often, without our knowledge, we install many extra programs to Outlook which cause slowdown issues. If you don’t need the add-ins, you can easily get rid of them to ensure the message window is not cluttered and the emails open quickly.

Go to “File -> Options,” which will open a new window for Outlook-related tasks.

Outlook Issues Options 1

Navigate to the “add-ins” menu in this new window. Here you can see a list of all active, inactive, and disabled add-ins. Scroll down to “Manage -> COM Add-ins” and click Go.

Outlook Issues Add Ins 1

In the dialog box that opens, you can remove any unnecessary add-ins by checking it. On the other hand, if you uncheck any items, they will become inactive and will not show up while starting the Outlook client.

Outlook Issues Remove Add In 1

5. Outlook Crashes Frequently

Although much rarer with Outlook 2016 and the latest Outlook 2019 client, this error may sometimes show up, crashing your Outlook window suddenly, forcing you to restart the client. To solve the Outlook crashing problem, Microsoft has recently introduced an excellent single-window solution it hopes to extend for all possible Outlook issues.

Download Microsoft’s Outlook Advanced Diagnostics. Close the Outlook client and Run the diagnostics tool .exe in Administrator mode.

Outlook Issues Outlook Diagnostics Installation 1

Once installed, the tool will run a set of diagnostic checks and then return some possible solutions for you to try to fix Outlook connectivity issues. 

Outlook Issues Support Recovery Assistant 1

Select “Outlook” among the applications that have problems.

Outlook Issues Support Recovery Assistant 2 1

Select the concerned “Outlook crashing problem” from the menu. In the next step, you will have to authenticate your Outlook account with Microsoft credentials.

Outlook Issues Outlook Crashing Problem Diagnosis 1

Walk through the next few steps, and Outlook will have resolved any issues that cause crashing. The same tool can be used for many other issues including:

  • Any Outlook Calendar issues
  • Outlook continually asking for password
  • Outlook continually trying to connect or getting disconnected

All of these issues are rarely encountered if you have Outlook 2016 and above. If for some reason you’re not satisfied with Outlook’s performance, check out some of its alternatives or switch to Mozilla Thunderbird.

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Sayak Boral Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over ten years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

3 comments

  1. Hi Sayak

    Hey what you mention in the first paragraph of this article “Microsoft Outlook, while popular, is not a perfect email tool.” could make a good artcle on finding out the perfect email tool?

  2. I have been using Outlook for nearly two decades now. But other email clients have their own advantages. I currently prefer Mozilla Thunderbird due to its extensive customizations support.

    https://www.maketecheasier.com/add-custom-search-engines-thunderbird/
    https://www.maketecheasier.com/thunderbird-quickfilters-organize-inbox/

    For those who prefer something lightweight, Mailbird is a good option. Also, check out eM Client, Postbox, and Apple Mal, of course.

    Having said this, for many people, Outlook is the no.1 choice because it’s been around for quite long.

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