Until this morning, you could open links in Outlook just fine, but suddenly hyperlinks stopped working, and now you get an error message whenever you click on an embedded link in an email. Unfortunately, the message is equally unclear and vague whichever version of Outlook you use, be it 2007, 2010, 2019, or 365.

There’s talk of contacting your help desk or system administrator and the fact that “restrictions” are in effect on your computer. What does that even mean, and how can you tackle this problem?

We can help. With advice from some of the top IT companies in NJ, we have come up with a list of four ways to fix the issue of being unable to open links in Outlook. Go through each of the proposed solutions in this article, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get the links working again.

First, let’s cover the most likely reason why you suddenly can’t open links in Outlook anymore.

woman biting pencil while sitting on chair in front of computer during daytime

Why Can’t I Open Outlook Hyperlinks?

It is most likely that your default internet browser is not registered (correctly) in Outlook. This issue often occurs after uninstalling your browser or switching from Internet Explorer to Chrome or Firefox as the default browser.

Even if you did not consciously do this, some misbehaving add-ins or applications might change the default browser without your notice by installing Chrome / Firefox along with its own files unless you unselect the corresponding checkbox.

While this is the typical scenario, Outlook links occasionally stop working for other reasons. The following solutions should help in those cases as well.

Fixing Your Outlook Links Not Working

You’re likely best off following these solutions in the order they are presented, beginning with the steps requiring the least effort and time. Check to see if you can open links again in Outlook after trying each solution. If not, move on to the next step.

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Microsoft’s Proprietary Troubleshooter

Fortunately, the clever guys and gals at Microsoft have already worked on a fix for the Outlook hyperlinks problem. Try running Microsoft’s Troubleshoot tool on your version of Windows.

You may be an “I’ll make it myself!” kind of person, but we strongly recommend letting Microsoft take the wheel in this case. First, it’s faster; second, it’s safer; and third, if something goes wrong, you know exactly whom to blame.

Hopefully, the fix will work for you, so congratulate yourself and close this page if it does. See you in the next one!

Oh, you’re still here? It must not have worked, then. Fret not; we have a few more tricks up our sleeve; just keep reading.

Reinstall Your Browser

If the problem started when you uninstalled your default browser, try setting another browser as your default (say Microsoft Edge). If this still doesn’t work, you may need to reinstall the uninstalled browser. Here’s what to do:

  1. Reinstall Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or whatever browser was your default.
  2. Set it as the default browser again.
  3. See if the hyperlinks in Outlook work now.
  4. If they do, you can safely change the default browser to Edge (or a different one).
  5. Now that you’ve done that, uninstall the browser you decided you didn’t need, and hopefully, the Outlook hyperlinks problem will disappear.

When setting Edge as the default browser, close Chrome and Firefox and ensure no chrome.exe or firefox.exe processes are running in Task Manager. You can open the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc or right-clicking the taskbar and selecting “Start Task Manager.”

Edit the Registry

OK, so the hyperlinks in Outlook do not work even after uninstalling your default browser. This means it’s time to dive into the registry and change the HTML associations in there manually.

The fact that you’ve reached this step means that things have gotten a bit more complex than you would have liked. If you don’t have experience delving into the registry, this may seem like a scene from Mr. Robot, but we promise it’s nowhere near as daunting.

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That said, be careful and follow the steps exactly as outlined below, especially if you’re working in a corporate environment. In fact, this might be a good time to ask a tech-support person for some help.

If this is not an option, make sure to perform a complete backup of your registry before modifying it and create a system restore point. Here are some instructions on how to do that “straight from the horse’s mouth.”

Now that we’ve taken the necessary precautions (and we have, haven’t we?), we can get into the nitty-gritty:

  1. Go to Windows Search and type regedit to find the Registry Editor.
  2. The app’s left-hand side will contain a list of folders, as you would find in Windows Explorer.
  3. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Classes/.html
  4. If the Default value of the “(Default)” file is anything other than htmlfile (it might be FireFoxHTML or ChromeHTML), it’s time to make some changes.
  5. Right-click the “(Default)” key and select the first option (Modify…)
  6. Change the value back to htmlfile
  7. Navigate back to the /Classes/ folder and repeat the same steps for the .shtml and .htm files.
  8. Restart your computer.

Congratulations, you’re a computer wizard.

Perform a System Restore

You can undo any recent changes by restoring the system to its previous state. Click the Start button and type System Restore into the search field to open the app in question.

You can select “Recommended restore” or “Choose a different restore point” in the System Restore dialog window. Choose a point in time when you’re sure that everything worked as expected, including hyperlinks in Outlook, and you should be golden.

Wrapping Up

There you have it! We don’t have much else to add to this guide. We do hope that one of the steps helped solve your problem. If not, this is likely a job for a certified IT technician or an IT support company. In any case, we appreciate you taking the time to read this!

Author Bio

Sophie Douglas is a digital marketing specialist and a journalist based in Columbus, state of Ohio.

Her characters are passionate, innovative, and ambitious.

Before becoming a writer for DigitalStrategyOne, she was writing short stories, screenplays, and directing short films.

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