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Cannot Start Microsoft Outlook: Invalid XML Error – Some Simple Solutions

Manisha Rawat
Manisha Rawat Published On - 21 Sep 2020

MS Outlook users have become so dependent on it that they can’t just use another email client if Outlook faces some issue. While there may be some cases when the problem faced is ignorable, and one gets to live with it or even find a workaround. There are some errors that one just can’t ignore. One such error reported by users is when the Outlook application fails to open and throws the error: “Cannot start Microsoft Outlook.” It further mentions that there is an Invalid XML and the view that can’t be loaded. This issue brings the user to a standstill as no email function can be performed if Outlook doesn’t open at all. One can’t even read emails, let alone perform other tasks. In this blog, we will help you understand and fix this error once and for all.

What is Invalid XML Error

Outlook users sometimes face this issue where the application fails to open and throws an error in a pop-up window.

error in a pop-up window

The error reads as “Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window. Invalid XML, the view cannot be loaded.” Further, it doesn’t provide much troubleshooting options as the application closes as soon as you click on the only button on the pop-up window – the “OK” button. So, the user is not able to perform any function on the Outlook application due to this error. Most of the time, the error is not intermittent and keeps popping until fixed.

Causes behind Invalid XML Error

Before we move to the resolution methods, let us first discuss the reasons that can lead to this error. There can be various causes that can trigger the Invalid XML error. Here are a few of the most common causes behind this error.

  • Navigation pane configuration issue
  • The navigation pane is the window that appears on the left side in Outlook and helps you switch between different functional areas such as Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Notes, Tasks, etc. The configuration settings of this Navigation pane are stored in an XML file in the Outlook folder. Editing this XML file can cause this issue. Further, corruption or any other damage to this file may also lead to this error

  • Hard drive corruption
  • Corruption of hard drive can cause issues. If the XML file for the navigation pane lies in any bad sector, then the application will not be able to access and process it successfully. This may lead to Invalid XML Error.

  • Running Outlook in compatibility mode
  • Sometimes, you may have to open Outlook in compatibility mode so as to fix any other issue that you might have faced. But there are various features and settings that are disabled in compatibility mode. The navigation pane is also impacted while running Outlook in compatibility mode and can face the invalid XML error.

  • Using an outdated version of Outlook
  • This cause is not common but has still been observed in some cases to impact the navigation pane configurations. An outdated or very old version of Outlook can cause this issue.

How to fix the Invalid XML Error?

We know a bit about the Invalid XML error, what it is and how it may occur to you. Now, let’s move forward to fix this error.

  • Reset Navigation Pane

    If resetting the navigation pane didn’t fix the issue, then there may be a possibility that the XML file is corrupt, and Outlook is neither able to read it nor reset it. Manually deleting the file and then restarting the Outlook will lead to the creation of a new XML file with default settings. Follow the below steps to achieve the same.

    1. Press Windows+R keys on your keyboard.
    2. This will open the Run window.
    3. In the Run window, paste below command –
    4. ‘Outlook.exe /resetnavpane’

      Outlook.exe

    5. Run the Outlook again, and it should work fine. If not, proceed to the next method.
  • Delete corrupt XML file

    If resetting the navigation pane didn’t fix the issue, then there may be a possibility that the XML file is corrupt, and Outlook is neither able to read it nor reset it. Manually deleting the file and then restarting the Outlook will lead to the creation of a new XML file with default settings. Follow the below steps to achieve the same.

    1. Press Windows+R keys on the keyboard to open the Run dialog box.
    2. In the run box, paste “%appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook” and press Enter.
    3. Delete corrupt XML file

    4. This will open the Windows Explorer window and take you to the Outlook configuration directory. You would find an XML file under this location most probably by the name “Outlook.xml”.
    5. Outlook.xml

    6. Delete this XML file and restart Outlook.
  • If you still face the same issue, proceed to the next method.

  • Disable compatibility mode
    1. Click on the Start menu and type Outlook.exe.
    2. Outlook.exe application icon would appear in the search results. Right-click on the icon and click on Properties.
    3. A new window opens for Outlook.exe properties. Click on the Compatibility tab.
    4. Under the compatibility mode, there would be a checkbox for “Run this program in compatibility mode for:”. Uncheck this checkbox and click on Apply and then press OK.
  • PST Repair
  • Sometimes the hard drive and Outlook data files are a victim of corruption and cause this error. If that PST file is corrupt, then you need to repair it using a professional PST Repair tool. Kernel for PST Repair tool is the answer to your problems in such a scenario. It is a very powerful yet simple tool that can repair your PST file and get rid of all corruption in a matter of minutes. The GUI is smooth and very intuitive that you won’t even need any instructions to fix your PST file using it. Once the PST file is repaired with the help of this tool, restore it to Outlook, and your issue should be fixed.

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Conclusion

In this blog, we discussed the Invalid XML Error that prevents Outlook application from opening. First, we explained what the error is and what it means. Next, we discussed the various causes behind this error and explained how these causes could lead to the error. In the subsequent section, we covered various methods to resolve the issue and get rid of this error. We covered from the most common fix to the rarely required one so as to fix the problem, no matter what the cause is.

In the end, we also suggested a PST repair tool to help in the scenario where PST restore is the only option left, and your PST file is also corrupt. Kernel for PST Repair tool can be used to fix the PST file. We hope that you were able to get your Outlook working again with the help of this blog.