If you see the Windows cannot find “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\outlook.exe” error message while opening Outlook on Windows 11/10, the solutions provided in this article will help you fix the problem. This error does not allow you to open Outlook. Apart from Outlook, this error can occur on any Microsoft Office application, like Word, Excel, etc. Hence, the solutions provided here also apply to other Office applications if they show the same error message.
The complete error message is as follows:
Windows cannot find “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\outlook.exe.” Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.
Windows cannot find C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\outlook.exe
The following solutions will help you resolve the Windows cannot find “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\outlook.exe” error while opening Outlook.
- Temporarily disable your Antivirus
- Delete the outlook.exe key from IEFO in Windows Registry
- Repair Office
- Uninstall and reinstall Office
Before starting our discussion on these fixes, let’s talk about the most common cause of this error.
This type of issue can be caused due to virus or malware infection. There is an entry in Windows Registry named IFEO (Image File Execution Options). The Image File Execution Options (IFEO) is used for debugging. Microsoft added the IFEO key in the Registry to give developers an option to debug the software.
Malware can attack your computer by taking advantage of the Image File Execution Options. Have a look at the possible ways by which malware can attack your system:
- It can attach an executable to a popular Windows executable so that the code will get executed when you launch that program.
- It can interfere with the protective software, like antivirus or antimalware by attaching a debugger to the main executable of a particular program.
You can also block a particular program from getting launched on your system by creating a debugger for its executable in the IFEO key. I have tested it on Google Chrome and got the same error message as the users received while launching Outlook. If you want to test it on your PC, we suggest you create a System Restore Point and back up your Registry before proceeding.
Be careful while modifying Windows Registry, as any mistake can lead to serious errors. The IEFO key is available at the following path in the Registry Editor.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options
I opened the Registry Editor and went to the above-mentioned address (copied the path and pasted it into the address bar of the Registry Editor, and hit Enter). To test it on Chrome, first, I looked for the Chrome executable subkey (chrome.exe) under the Image File Execution Options key. The key was not available. Therefore, I created it manually. To do so, I followed the following steps:
- Right-clicked on the Image File Executions Options subkey.
- Selected “New > Key.”
- Named this newly created key chrome.exe.
- Selected the chrome.exe subkey.
- Right-clicked on the right side and selected “New > String Value.”
- Gave the name Debugger to this Value.
- Right-clicked on Debugger Value and selected Modify.
- Typed ntsd -d in the Value data and clicked OK.
As I clicked OK, my antivirus detected malware on my system and immediately closed the Registry Editor. After that, when I opened Chrome, I received the following error message:
Windows cannot find “C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe.” Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.
This trick is used by malware to infect users’ systems. Therefore, antivirus software prevents the affected application from getting launched. This is because once the application is launched successfully, the malicious code may get executed.
Antivirus also prevented me from opening the Registry Editor. To make things normal again, I uninstalled my antivirus, then I was able to open the Registry Editor. After that, I deleted the chrome.exe subkey, then reinstalled the antivirus.
Let’s talk about the solutions to fix this issue.
1] Temporarily disable your antivirus
Now, I think that you understood the whole picture. Therefore, disable your antivirus software and see if it resolves your problem. If you will be able to open Outlook after disabling your antivirus, one of the following conditions are true:
- Your antivirus is considering Outlook as a threat and blocking it from getting launched.
- There is a debugger Value that might be created by malware for the executable key of Outlook under the Image File Execution Options entry in the Registry.
If the problem is occurring due to case 1 mentioned above, update your antivirus software. You can also try adding Outlook.exe as an exception to your antivirus. Check if this resolves your problem or not.
If the problem is occurring due to case 2 mentioned above, you have to delete the outlook.exe key from your Registry. We have talked about it in the next fix.
2] Delete the outlook.exe key from IEFO in Windows Registry
If the issue still persists, there might be an outlook.exe key under the IEFO entry in the Registry on your Windows PC. In this case, deleting the outlook.exe key will fix the problem. However, we recommend all the affected users follow this fix, even if the previous fix worked for them. This method will let you know whether a debugger Value is created by malware in your Registry or not.
Before proceeding, creating a System Restore Point and backing up the Registry is suggested. Follow the steps below:
- Open the Registry Editor.
- Go to the path that we mentioned earlier in this article.
- Expand the Image File Execution Options key and look for the outlook.exe subkey.
- If the outlook.exe subkey is available under the Image File Execution Options key in Registry Editor, delete it. To do so, right-click on it and select Delete.
As I described above, you may be unable to open the Registry Editor. If this happens, disable your antivirus. If this does not work, uninstall your antivirus. Before uninstalling your antivirus, make sure that you have your product activation key. Check your email for your antivirus key if you purchased the antivirus online. Without the product key, you will not be able to activate your antivirus again after reinstalling it.
This should fix the issue. If there is no outlook.exe subkey under the Image File Execution Options key in Registry, the problem is occurring due to another reason.
3] Repair Office
The problem might also be occurring due to the corrupted Office files. We suggest you repair Microsoft Office and see if it helps. Repairing Office usually fixes most of the problems occurring with Office applications. First, run a quick repair. If this does not work, run an online repair. This should work.
4] Uninstall and reinstall Office
If none of the above solutions worked for you, uninstall and reinstall Microsoft Office. Before you uninstall Microsoft Office, make sure that you have its product key.
Read: Outlook not working after Windows 11 Update.
Where is my Outlook EXE file?
The Outlook EXE folder is located on your C drive inside the Microsoft Office folder. Open File Explorer and go to the following path:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office
Depending on your Microsoft Office version number, you will find a folder there. For example, if you have Office 2016, 2019, and 2021, you will find the Office16 folder there. Open that folder and you will find the outlook.exe file there.
Read: Outlook not working after Windows 11 Update
Where is my Outlook EXE file?
The Outlook EXE is located at the “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office” path on your C drive. Navigate to this path in File Explorer and open the Office folder as per the Office version installed on your computer. For example, if you have Office 2016, 2019, and 2021, you will find the Office16 folder there.
How do I repair Microsoft Outlook?
To repair Microsoft Outlook, you have to repair the entire Office suite. To do so, open Windows 11/10 Settings and go to “Apps > Installed Apps.” In Windows 10 and Windows 11 prior to 22H2 Update, you will find Apps & features in place of Installed apps. Now, locate the Microsoft Office app, click on it, and select Modify. You will see the Repair option there.
I hope this helps.
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