Hyperlinks Not Working in Outlook Express

June 9, 2008 by
Filed under: Outlook Express 

Outlook Express is included with Windows XP, so many people use it for e-mail correspondence or even as a news reader. If you receive e-mails with hyperlinks in Outlook Express, they are shown in blue by default and underlined. Clicking a hyperlink in an e-mail in Outlook Express will open up your default internet browser and show the location the link is pointing to.

You might run into an Outlook Express problem where the hyperlinks in the e-mail messages do not work anymore. If you click the link in the e-mail message nothing happens. This is not an Outlook Express error, but can be a configuration problem related to files types in the Windows Explorer.

To solve this error, try these steps:

  1. Open up the Control Panel.
  2. Select Add or Remove Programs.
  3. Now select the Set Program Access and Defaults in the left-hand side of the window.
  4. Next, select Custom and then select Internet Explorer as the default web browser.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Windows default web browser

    If this does not help, continue with:

  7. Open up the Windows Explorer.
  8. In the Tools menu, select Folder Options…
  9. In the Folder Options dialog box, select the File Types tab.
  10. In the Registered file types list, look up the ExtensionURL’.
  11. Windows URL file-type association
  12. In the Details for ‘URL’ extension group, make sure that ‘Opens with:’ is followed by your default browser, e.g. ‘Internet Explorer’. If not, click the Change button and select the internet application in the Open With dialog box.
  13. If this does not fix the problem, continue with:

  14. Click the Advanced button.
  15. In the Edit File Type dialog box that appears, select the open entry under Actions:
  16. Next, check if your settings match the ones in the screenshot below. If not, change them accordingly.
  17. Internet shortcut for URL open action - option 1
  18. Click OK twice and then click Close.

After this, you should now be able to open the hyperlinks from e-mails in Outlook Express again.

If this still does not work, you can try to repeat the steps above but replace the settings with the following screenshot.

Internet shortcut for URL open action - option 2

Last thing to try is to change the Application used to perform this action to:
C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe" -nohome
C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe" %1
These steps all address the issue that the URL association is not configured properly, so if that is the problem, one of these steps will fix it.

A second possible cause for hyperlinks not working in Outlook Express is that a support library is not registered properly. This could be a registry problem, but it can generally be fixed by re-registering the required DLL files.
So use the Run command in the Start menu to execute the following commands:
regsvr32 urlmon.dll
regsvr32 mshtml.dll
regsvr32 shdocvw.dll
regsvr32 browseui.dll
regsvr32 msjava.dll

This will register the listed Dynamic Link Library files again and correct any issues concerning them in the Windows Registry. Try clicking a link in Outlook Express again after this.


45 Comments on Hyperlinks Not Working in Outlook Express

  1. Georgina Whateley on Tue, 22nd Jul 2008 9:44 am
  2. Have done all of the above adn it still does not work

  3. Kyle on Thu, 24th Jul 2008 12:11 pm
  4. @Georgina – Based on feedback Anthony received from another reader, I have updated the article with some initial steps. The very first thing to do is to ensure IE is the default browser, which I had assumed, but it is better to check.
    Please try these first steps to solve your problem.

  5. tim phillipson on Sun, 10th Aug 2008 12:37 pm
  6. Thanks for the tip, the first suggestion worked straight away.

  7. bandu on Thu, 25th Sep 2008 2:11 pm
  8. thanks lot for ur help it worked

  9. bandu on Thu, 25th Sep 2008 2:13 pm
  10. Thanks lot

  11. Gary on Tue, 11th Nov 2008 12:38 am
  12. This was a stubborn problem ever since I upgraded to IE7.
    Your final solution in the list above was the silver bullet.
    Thank you.

  13. Linda on Fri, 14th Nov 2008 2:27 pm
  14. I followed your instructions above, and the second fix worked once, then it reverted back to not opening hyperlinks again! Any suggestions?

  15. Kyle on Fri, 14th Nov 2008 3:40 pm
  16. @Linda – If you mean the extension association, and the problem is reintroduced, then this means that there is a program installed on your PC that changes the URL association.
    You need to identify which one and if possible change the configuration to disable this functionality.


  17. Amy on Thu, 29th Jan 2009 11:18 pm
  18. Thank you so much…it was driving me NUTS! First option worked perfectly.

  19. Dan on Fri, 30th Jan 2009 9:15 pm
  20. Kyle, Thanks a lot ,this has pleged me for months. It took the last option to make work.
    Thanks again Dan

  21. Linda Thibodeau on Sat, 14th Feb 2009 12:06 am
  22. Internet Explorer is my default web browser. I tried both fixes above & I still can’t open hyperlinks from Outlook Express. Linda.

  23. Kyle on Sat, 14th Feb 2009 2:24 pm
  24. @Linda – Can you provide more details? Any error message or what is happening exactly?


  25. Linda Thibodeau on Sat, 14th Feb 2009 8:34 pm
  26. I shut the computer down last night but when I restarted it this morning, my hyperlinks from Outlook Express were working. Thanks ever so much.

  27. Harold Protter on Mon, 30th Mar 2009 2:59 pm
  28. Your hyperlink fix works until I close and reopen IE-8. Is there anything else to do except uninstalling IE-8?

  29. Janet on Sun, 5th Apr 2009 3:24 pm
  30. Can I just tell you all what a blessing it is to have people like you out there to help! I was having the IE8 vs Outlook Express link issues and it was driving me NUTS! Could not find any answers until I google’d you. Thank you, THANK YOU!!

  31. Charlie Farnsworth on Mon, 20th Jul 2009 6:22 am
  32. It worked for me, the third solution. Thanks!!!! A lot better than MIcrosoft website.

  33. Kyle on Mon, 20th Jul 2009 8:00 am
  34. @Janet @ Charlie – Glad it worked for you both!


  35. Dana M. Damren on Thu, 13th Aug 2009 8:27 pm
  36. Using Windows XP Home Edition, Outlook Express 6 and IE8. Success after Step #14. You, sir, are a freaking genius! Thank you!

  37. Rajesh on Thu, 10th Sep 2009 7:09 pm
  38. Am using Windows 7 RC and before that was using Windows Vista both with internet explorer 8 and am not able to access links from Outlook
    Had tried all the above steps when I was using Vista..
    Please help

  39. Kyle on Fri, 11th Sep 2009 3:14 am
  40. @Rajesh – The article is about Outlook Express, not Outlook, so the solutions will not apply to that. Outlook Express is not available in Vista and Windows 7 anymore, it is replaced with Windows Mail.
    The only thing I know about fixing the problem with hyperlink not working in Outlook is by resetting Internet Explorer in the Internet Options (Programs tab). Have you tried that?

  41. Sandy on Wed, 30th Sep 2009 6:45 pm
  42. Kyle, Thanks so much for explaining how to allow hyperlinks to be used again in e-mail. This has been messed up ever since IE 7 was installed and I’m back in business again because of your intsructions. Thanks so much!

  43. Darin on Thu, 8th Oct 2009 3:51 am
  44. Thank you. You solved my problem. Thanks again.

  45. Cheryl on Sat, 24th Oct 2009 11:45 pm
  46. Kyle –
    I’ve tried everything above – in step 13 my application setting says:
    “C:\WINDOWS\system32\rundll32.exe” “C:\WINDOWS\system32\ieframe.dll”,OpenURL %l
    which, while containing part of what you show in your example, is considerably longer. Is my setting correct or should I shorten it to what you have?

  47. Keith on Thu, 29th Oct 2009 4:54 pm
  48. Sir, you are a star; it worked for me too.

    Cheryl – mine had the fully-qualified path names in it too, and taking these out (back to the settings shown in Kyle’s screenshots) did the trick for me.

    Kyle – thanks very much.

  49. Cheryl on Thu, 29th Oct 2009 11:23 pm
  50. @ Keith – thanks! My hyperlinks have been working intermittently (if I reboot they will work again.. until they don’t), so I will keep this info for future use!!

  51. Kyle on Fri, 30th Oct 2009 11:23 am
  52. @Cheryl – Glad it works (at least partially) for you.

    @Keith – Thanks for you clarifying comments.

  53. Richard W. Garrison on Thu, 5th Nov 2009 3:19 pm
  54. Kyle, thank you and the availability of this excellent web site for the fix of my, “hyperlinks not working in outlook express” problem. Works great. One comment on the instructions is that the “Folder Options…” does not appear in the tools menu in Windows Explorer but in “My Computer”. I’m not that computer knowlegable so I follow directions specificly and some may be left lost as what to do. “All’s well that ends well”. Thanks again. Rich

  55. Joe the Bass Man on Fri, 4th Dec 2009 6:51 am
  56. You da’ man Kyle….That worked!!!…..Great tip!..That last screenie was my fix.

  57. Lauri on Tue, 15th Dec 2009 7:45 pm
  58. Kyle – I am admin on my computer but changes to web browser to IE and externsion URL are not saved. I do have the advanced settings in file type reg but the hyperlinks in Outlook Express do not work. Now what?

  59. Kyle on Wed, 16th Dec 2009 12:33 pm
  60. @Lauri – What do you mean by “changes to …. are not saved”? Do the settings described in the article get saved?
    One other option would be the antivirus software, but that is a rare cause for this not to work. Are you getting any error or information message?

  61. BOB on Fri, 22nd Jan 2010 4:20 pm
  62. Kyle —- I have tryed everything to fix this problem.
    Who would have thought all I needed to do was find someone smarter than myself.
    Your the “GREATEST ” .
    THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!!!!!

  63. Chad on Fri, 22nd Jan 2010 8:36 pm
  64. Cheryl (above) asked you

    “I’ve tried everything above – in step 13 my application setting says:
    “C:\WINDOWS\system32\rundll32.exe” “C:\WINDOWS\system32\ieframe.dll”,OpenURL %l
    which, while containing part of what you show in your example, is considerably longer. Is my setting correct or should I shorten it to what you have?”

    I have exactly the same problem but did not see your answer to her about the shortened command rundll32.exe ieframe.dll,OpenURL %I

    Before I mess around I just want to confirm the switch to the “Reader’s Digest version.

  65. Terry Wilson on Sat, 6th Feb 2010 9:07 pm
  66. I have followed your instructions to the letter and I still have the same hyperlinks not working on sites that I use although others work perfectly. Any more suggestions? I am beginning to lose it !!!

  67. Kyle on Sat, 6th Feb 2010 9:54 pm
  68. @Terry Wilson – “not working on sites”? The tip has nothing to do with links in browsers, but with links in Outlook Express.
    Are you certain that your security software is not blocking some links?
    And check what the difference is between the links that work and those that do not, there will be some difference (check the page source).

  69. Henry on Sat, 17th Apr 2010 12:37 pm
  70. Thanks Kyle for the fix. BUT—the problem keeps recurring! I have to apply the fix regularly (daily, or sometime more often). What is causing this setting to be reset? Is there a fix to end the problem, not just correct the symptom? Each time the problem occurs, I have clicked on a link in Outlook Express and a window has opened (presumably in IE) with an annoying sales pitch most recently from mediajmp.com or grantadvisorusa.com. I have popup manager set on Medium in IE.

  71. Kyle on Mon, 19th Apr 2010 8:00 pm
  72. @Henry – From your description it seems like you might have a virus, spyware or adware installed. This could explain how things get corrupted every time. Try scanning your system with anti-virus software and something like Ad-AWare from lavasoft.

  73. Fritz on Wed, 12th May 2010 3:08 pm
  74. I’m having a related issue wherein I type (or paste) a website into Outlook, but then it’s not automatically hyperlinked. So, for example, I used to be able to type into an email http://www.pcauthorities.com, press space/enter and it’d be linked automatically. No more. Can’t figure out what went wrong. Any idea how to restore?


  75. Kyle on Wed, 12th May 2010 10:05 pm
  76. @Fritz – Probably related to the auto format options.
    Try: Tools menu -> Options -> Click Mail Format tab -> click Editor Options button -> click Proofing in left-hand side pane -> click AutoCorrect Options button -> click the AutoFormat tab.
    Now finally make sure the Internet and network paths with hyperlinks check box in the Replace section is enabled.

  77. Don on Thu, 17th Jun 2010 3:51 am
  78. Attempt both ways from your web site without results. When clicking on a HyperLink in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 the below message comes up.
    “This operation has been canceled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator (That is me!).
    Able to copy Hyperlink from Outlook and paste it in IE-8 but is a pain in you now were!
    Any suggestion would be very well appreciated.

  79. Dr. Morse on Wed, 25th Aug 2010 1:56 pm
  80. My office system runs off of Firefox, which is my default browser. My hpyerlinks had been opening fine until recently, now my 3-mail hyperlinks don’t do anything. I read you suggestions but I was wondering how I fix it with Firefox.
    Help me if you can.

  81. Steve on Thu, 23rd Sep 2010 9:15 pm
  82. In your step 13 I found this in mine: “C:\WINDOWS\system32\rundll32.exe” “C:\WINDOWS\system32\ieframe.dll”,OpenURL %l, and proceeded to replace it with your version. IT WORKED!!

    Thank you so much.

  83. Steve on Fri, 24th Sep 2010 2:47 am
  84. Follow up to previous message: as the website comes up in response to clicking on the hyperlink in OE, a formal message pops up : Internet Explorer is not your default browser, do you want …. YES or NO. If I select YES, then the next attempt to click on a hyperlink does not work again, and I find that same old path [“C:\WINDOWS\system32\rundll32.exe” “C:\WINDOWS\system32\ieframe.dll”,OpenURL %l] has been replaced in the Application window (your step 13). Changing it back to your version corrects things again. When now I select NO in the default window, and try again things work fine, and continue to work fine.

    Can you explain this weird behavior?

  85. mahender nath on Mon, 17th Jan 2011 8:20 am
  86. you have support all in very helpful way.

    thanks a lot.

    Mahender Nath

  87. Mr unknown on Sat, 21st May 2011 1:38 am
  88. Thanks for your help step one worked.

  89. Daniel on Thu, 5th Jan 2012 5:05 pm
  90. I have had a problem for a long time where outlook was unable to open hyperlinks — it would always ask you for what to open it with polluting the registry with a number of strange extensions (from the end of the url). I dealt with it until a link had .exe on the end (it was an internal download link) which then caused windows to forget what to do with .exe files.

    First thing to do is Setting Internet Explorer as your default browser:

    1. Open Internet Explorer
    2. Click on Tools menu
    3. Select Internet Options -> Programs
    4. Click on button Make Default

    Citrix had a similar issue and had the magic register key set after resetting the browser associations,…

    Copy this to a .reg file and import it to complete the association.
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    @=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\” -nohome”

    @=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\” %1″

    @=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\” -nohome”

    @=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\” -nohome”

    @=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\” -nohome”

    @=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\” -nohome”

    @=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\” -nohome”
    “MPlayer2.BAK”=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\” -nohome”

    @=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\” -nohome”

    @=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\” -nohome”

    @=”\”C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\” -nohome”

Tell me what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.