Microsoft KB Archive/249733

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XCLN: Outlook .xnk Shortcuts Not Working When Dragged into Outlook 2000 Folder

Article ID: 249733

Article Last Modified on 6/8/2005


  • Microsoft Outlook 2000 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q249733

IMPORTANT: This article contains information about modifying the registry. Before you modify the registry, make sure to back it up and make sure that you understand how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. For information about how to back up, restore, and edit the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

256986 Description of the Microsoft Windows Registry


Under Microsoft Windows 2000, Outlook 2000 may not correctly run Outlook Folder Shortcut files (*.xnk) that have been dragged into an Outlook Folder in the left side tree-view control.

In this situation, when you double-click on the .xnk shortcut, you receive two error messages:

Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. A dialog box is open. Close it and try again.


Outlook could not track the program used to open this document. Any changes you make to the document may not be saved to the original document.


Each error message comes from a separate instance of Outlook. Simply put, the calling process can't track the spawned process, goes modal to report the error, and in the process of doing so, blocks the other process that was actually successfully created.

This error is caused by the way that Outlook attempts to track the process, and also by the manner in which Windows 2000 handles a ShellExecute call on these shortcuts. Because of the implementation used, Windows 2000 does not fill in the hProcess member of the SHELLEXECUTEINFO structure returning from ShellExecuteEx. This is normal behavior for Windows 2000, because the call transfers internally through Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE). Outlook expects the hProcess member to be filled in, and when it is not, Outlook reports that it was unable to track the process. When the modal error report dialog box opens, Outlook enters a modal state, and the newly spawned Outlook instance is unable to continue because it must communicate with the parent instance upon startup.


WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.
You must create a new registry value of the REG_EXPAND_SZ type underneath the following registry key:


Name the registry value NonTrackableFileTypes, and change the value to ".lnk;.exe;.url;.xnk;".
Outlook uses a default value that is similar to this value, but which does not include the .xnk file type. This new registry key prevents Outlook from trying to track the created process of .xnk shortcut files.

Additional query words: OL2K

Keywords: kbfix kbprb KB249733