Error when clicking an email link

Got a call from a client today

He was making some changes to the contact details on his website and when clicked on one of the email addresses in the page he got the following error message

“Could not perform this operation because the default mail client is not properly installed”

Bit odd. He is using Outlook 2003 and that appeared to working ok

A quick google search came up a with knowledge base article that says if your using Outlook Express as your mail client and you click a mailto link that contains more than 456 characters you will get this error.

Neither of these things were true though

I had another look around a notice that when he clicked on his start menu the usual Outlook 2003 orange icon was missing and had been replaced with an email envelope icon. When i clicked it the “Internet Properties” dialog box was displayed

I checked Outlook was set as the default program in Internet Explorer and via the options in Outlook. I also checked in “set program access and defaults” and Outlook Express wasn’t selected

I switched the defaults between Outlook and Outlook Express (and back again) and the error message went away. However, the new email was created in Outlook express and i couldn’t get it to do it Outlook

I decided the best thing to do was a “Detect and repair” in Outlook

This sorted out the icon problem but i still couldn’t get Outlook to open the mailto link

So,off to the registry!

Located the following

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\mailto\shell\open\command

It was pointing at outlook express!

I changed it to this: (which i double checked against my laptop)

“%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office11\outlook.exe” -c IPM.Note /m “%1%”

Notice the quote locations…they are important!

Restarted Outlook and all was well 🙂

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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