Command-line switches for Outlook for Windows

A command-line switch is the addition of a forward slash followed by the command name and any parameters. In Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016, you can change certain aspects of how the program starts by adding subcommands called switches to the outlook.exe command.

A switch appears as a space after the main command, followed by a forward slash and the name of the switch, which provide additional information about how to execute the command.

For example, the following command instructs Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016 to start with the Reading Pane turned off.

outlook.exe /nopreview

First, verify the location of the outlook.exe file on your computer. If you accepted the default folder locations when you installed Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016, the outlook.exe file is located at the following:

  • For Outlook 2013: c:\program files\microsoft office\office15. If you installed Outlook 2013 32-bit on Windows 64-bit, look here: c:\program files (x86)\microsoft office\office15\outlook.exe

  • For Outlook 2016: c:\program files\microsoft office\office16.

Tip: If you can’t find the outlook.exe file at the locations listed above, search for the file and note the full path.

  1. Click the Start button, point to All Programs, click Accessories, and then click Run.

  2. In the Run box, type a quotation mark, enter the full path for the outlook.exe file, and then type another quotation mark. Alternatively, click Browse to locate and select the file. In this case, the quotation marks are supplied automatically.

  3. After the closing quotation mark, type a space, and then type the switch. For example, you might type:

    "c:\program files\microsoft office\office15\outlook.exe" /nopreview

The next time you start Outlook, the program opens as usual. To make your customized startup available for repeated uses, see the next section.


  • Switches are not case-sensitive. For example, /NOPREVIEW functions the same as /nopreview.

  • Remember to include one blank space before the switch and one before each parameter.

Available switches




Creates an item with the specified file as an attachment.


  • "c:\program files\microsoft office\office15\outlook.exe" /a "c:\my documents\labels.doc"

    Tip: If you're using Outlook 2016, replace office15, with office16 in the path above.

If no item type is specified, IPM.Note is assumed. Cannot be used with message classes that are not based on Outlook.

/altvba otmfilename

Opens the VBA program specified in otmfilename, instead of %appdata%\microsoft\outlook\vbaproject.otm.

/c messageclass

Creates a new item of the specified message class (Outlook forms or any other valid MAPI form).


  • /c ipm.activity creates a Journal entry

  • /c ipm.appointment creates an appointment

  • /c creates a contact

  • /c ipm.note creates an e-mail message

  • /c ipm.stickynote creates a note

  • /c ipm.task creates a task


Prompts for the default manager of e-mail, news, and contacts.


Removes all names and e-mail addresses from the Auto-Complete list.


Deletes any custom category names that you have created. Restores categories to the default names.


Starts Outlook and deletes client-based rules.


Deletes the Conversations Actions Table (CAT). CAT entries for a conversation thread usually expire 30 days after no activity. The command-line switch clears all conversation tagging, ignore, and moving rules immediately stopping any additional actions.


Deletes the logging records saved when a manager or a delegate declines a meeting.


Resets all Search Folders in the Microsoft Exchange mailbox for only the first profile opened.


Removes all manually added From entries from the profile.


Removes all MailTips from the cache.


Clears and regenerates reminders.


All previous roamed preferences are deleted and copied again from the local settings on the computer where this switch is used. This includes the roaming settings for reminders, free/busy grid, working hours, calendar publishing, and RSS rules.


Starts Outlook and deletes client-based and server-based rules.


Starts Outlook and deletes server-based rules.


Removes all RSS, Internet Calendar, and SharePoint subscriptions from Account Settings, but leaves all the previously downloaded content on your computer. This is useful if you cannot delete one of these subscriptions within Outlook 2013.


Overrides the programmatic lockout that determines which of your computers (when you run Outlook at the same time) processes meeting items. The lockout process helps prevent duplicate reminder messages. This switch clears the lockout on the computer it is used. This enables Outlook to process meeting items.


Deletes the subscription messages and properties for subscription features.


Removes city locations added to the Weather Bar.


Restores default views. All custom views you created are lost.


Used without command-line parameters for standard OLE co-create.

/f msgfilename

Opens the specified message file (.msg) or Microsoft Office saved search (.oss).


Opens the Advanced Find dialog box.

/hol holfilename

Opens the specified .hol file.

/ical icsfilename

Opens the specified .ics file.


Imports the contents of an .nk2 file which contains the nickname list used by both the automatic name checking and Auto-Complete features.

/importprf prffilename

Starts Outlook and opens/imports the defined MAPI profile (*.prf). If Outlook is already open, queues the profile to be imported on the next clean start.

/launchtraininghelp assetid

Opens a Help window with the Help topic specified in assetid displayed.

/m emailname

Provides a way for the user to add an e-mail name to the item. Only works together with the /c command-line parameter.


  • Outlook.exe /c ipm.note /m emailname



Starts Outlook with the Reading Pane off.

/p msgfilename

Prints the specified message (.msg).

/profile profilename

Loads the specified profile. If your profile name contains a space, enclose the profile name in quotation marks (" ").


Opens the Choose Profile dialog box regardless of the Options setting on the Tools menu.


Same as /importprf except a prompt appears and the user can cancel the import.


Starts Outlook by using an existing Outlook window, if one exists. Used in combination with /explorer or /folder.


Starts Outlook and starts the following commands on the default mailbox:

  • Upgrades colored For Follow Up flags to Outlook 2013 color categories.

  • Upgrades calendar labels to Outlook 2013 color categories.

  • Adds all categories used on non-mail items into the Master Category List

Note:  This is the same command as Upgrade to Color Categories in each Outlook mailbox properties dialog box.


Restores missing folders at the default delivery location.


Resets default folder names (such as Inbox or Sent Items) to default names in the current Office user interface language.

For example, if you first connect to your mailbox in Outlook by using a Russian user interface, the Russian default folder names cannot be renamed. To change the default folder names to another language, such as Japanese or English, you can use this switch to reset the default folder names after you change the user interface language or install a different language version of Outlook.


Empties the form regions cache and reloads the form region definitions from the Windows registry.


Clears and regenerates the Folder Pane for the current profile.


Restores the default Quick Steps. All user-created Quick Steps are deleted.


Resets all Instant Search criteria so the default set of criteria is shown in each module.


Removes all shared folders from the Folder Pane.


Attempts to open the same profile and folders that were open prior to an abnormal Outlook shutdown.


Opens Outlook and displays the remote procedure call (RPC) connection status dialog box.



Starts Outlook without the Reading Pane or toolbar customizations. Both native and managed Component Object Model (COM) add-ins are turned off.


Starts Outlook with the Reading Pane off.


Both native and managed Component Object Model (COM) add-ins are turned off.

/select foldername

Starts Outlook and opens the specified folder in a new window. For example, to open Outlook and display the default calendar, use: "c:\program files\microsoft office\office15\outlook.exe" /select outlook:calendar.

Tip: If you're using Outlook 2016, replace office15, with office16 in the path above.

/share feed://URL/filename

/share stssync://URL

/share web://URL/filename

Specifies a sharing URL to connect to Outlook. For example, use stssync://URL to connect a SharePoint list to Outlook.



Starts Outlook, forces a detection of new meeting requests in the Inbox, and then adds them to the calendar.

/t oftfilename

Opens the specified .oft file.

/v vcffilename

Opens the specified .vcf file.

/vcal vcsfilename

Opens the specified .vcs file.

Share Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Email Email

Was this information helpful?

Great! Any other feedback?

How can we improve it?

Thank you for your feedback!