Top 7 Fixes for ‘The Operation Failed’ Error in Microsoft Outlook for Windows

Microsoft Outlook is the email client of choice for countless organizations and individuals, thanks to its robust features and seamless integration with other Office apps. However, your experience using Outlook may be disrupted from time to time. One of these times is when Outlook displays the ‘The operation failed’ error on your Windows 10 or 11 computer.

Top Fixes for ‘The Operation Failed Error in Microsoft Outlook for Windows

The exact error message you see may differ depending on when it occurs. For example, if you are trying to send an email, the error message might be ‘The attempted operation failed’ or ‘The operation failed. An object could not be found.’ In any case, the following tips can help you resolve these cryptic Outlook errors quickly.

1. Avoid Running Outlook in Compatibility Mode

While the compatibility mode feature on Windows is great for running old software and games, it is not suitable for modern-day apps like Outlook. Hence, your first step is to ensure that Outlook isn’t running in compatibility mode. Here’s how to check.

Step 1: Right-click on Outlook’s app shortcut and select Properties.

Open Outlook Properties

Step 2: Switch to the Compatibility tab and clear the ‘Run this program in compatibility mode for’ checkbox. Then, hit Apply followed by OK.

Outlook Properties on Windows

Try using Outlook after this and see if you encounter any errors.

2. Open Outlook in Safe Mode

When you experience problems with an Office app, running it in safe mode can allow you to determine if one of the add-ins is responsible for the issue. To open Outlook in safe mode, press and hold the CTRL key on your keyboard and double-click the Outlook shortcut. Then, click Yes to confirm.

Open Outlook in Safe Mode

After opening Outlook in safe mode, try using it for some time. If it does not show ‘The operation failed’ error, one of your add-ins may be causing the problem. To identify the culprit, you will need to disable all the add-ins and re-enable them one at a time.

Step 1: In the Outlook app, click the File menu at the top.

Outlook File Menu

Step 2: Select Options from the left pane.

Outlook Options

Step 3: In the Outlook Options window, switch to the Add-ins tab. Use the drop-down menu next to Manage to select COM Add-ins and click the Go button.

Outlook Add-ins

Step 4: Uncheck the boxes to disable add-ins and click OK.

Disable Outlook Add-ins

Restart the Outlook app after this and enable your add-ins one by one. Test the app after enabling each add-in until the error appears again. Once you find the troublesome add-in, consider removing it.

3. Change the Default Email Format

Does Outlook only show ‘The operation failed’ error when you attempt to send an email or save it in the draft? If so, try changing the email format to HTML and see if that fixes the problem.

Step 1: Open the Outlook app on your PC and click the File menu in the top left corner.

Outlook File Menu

Step 2: Select Options from the left sidebar.

Outlook Options

Step 3: In the Outlook Options window, select the Mail tab. Click the drop-down menu next to ‘Compose messages in this format’ to select HTML and click OK.

Change Outlook Email Format

4. Delete Conflicting Outlook Rules

Outlook rules can help you automate tasks and manage your emails more efficiently. However, if they are not set up correctly, they can create looping scenarios or conflict with each other, resulting in errors. To fix this, you need to delete any Outlook rules that may be causing the error.

Step 1: Open the Outlook app and click the File menu in the top left corner.

Outlook File Menu

Step 2: Select the Info tab and click the ‘Manage Rules & Alerts’ button.

Manage Outlook Rules

Step 3: Press and hold the Ctrl key and select the rules you want to remove. Then, click the Delete option at the top.

Delete Outlook Rules

5. Repair Outlook Data File

Corrupted or damaged data files can also lead to issues with your Outlook emails or calendar. You can try running the Outlook Inbox Repair Tool to see if that resolves the issue.

Step 1: Press the Windows key + E keyboard shortcut to open File Explorer and navigate to the following folder.

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16

Step 2: Double-click the SCANPST.EXE file.

Outlook Scan PST Files

Step 3: Click Start to initiate the scan.

Outlook Inbox Repair

Step 4: If the tool finds any issues, click on Repair.

Outlook Inbox Repair Tool

6. Create a New Outlook Profile

Your Outlook profile on Windows saves your Outlook settings. If this profile has become corrupted, the Outlook app may misbehave. If the error ‘The operation failed’ occurs due to a corrupted Outlook profile, you will need to create a new Outlook profile.

Step 1: Press the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run dialog, type in control, and press Enter.

Open Control Panel

Step 2: Click the View type menu to select Large icons and then click on Mail (Microsoft Outlook).

Mail (Microsoft Outlook)

Step 3: Click the Show Profiles button.

Outlook Profiles

Step 4: Click on Add, enter a name for the new profile, and click OK.

Create Outlook Profile

Step 5: In the Add Account window, enter your account details and hit Next.

Create New Outlook Profile

Step 6: Select your new profile under ‘When starting Microsoft Outlook’ and hit Apply.

Select New Profile for Outlook

After you create a new profile, Outlook will not give you any problems.

7. Run the Office Repair Tool

If Microsoft Outlook still displays the error ‘The operation failed’ at this point, there may be an issue with some of the core app files. Microsoft includes a handy repair tool that automatically identifies and resolves issues with all Office apps, including Outlook. Here’s how to run it.

Step 1: Press the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run dialog box. In the Open field, type appwiz.cpl and press Enter.

Open Programs and Features on Windows

Step 2: In the Programs and Features window, locate the Microsoft Office suite or Microsoft 365. Right-click on it and select Change.

Repair MS Office Suite

Step 3: Select Quick Repair and click the Repair button to continue.

Quick Repair Office

If the issue remains even after this, repeat the above steps and select the Online Repair option. This may take a little longer, but it’s likely to fix the problem.

Repair Office Apps

Enjoy Error-Free Outlook

Microsoft Outlook, like most programs, is not free from occasional errors. Outlook’s ‘The operation failed’ is just one of those errors that can hinder your productivity.

Last updated on 09 October, 2023

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