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So you can no longer open links from an email? Lately I have seen this problem come up a lot, where users can’t open links in outlook. Usually clients are unaware of any changes they made, and it could have been something they didn’t do. When trying to follow links in an email an error will pop up or it will ask you to chose your default program to open links every time. The cause of this is an uninstallation of either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. There are traces of the program left behind in registry and windows doesn’t know how to open html links. There are several things that can fix this issue. Each fix is for a specific error but usually to be safe, and it doesn’t hurt any, I do all of them. Plus this will ensure any fix that should work but doesn’t, definitely resolves the issue.

Close all of your programs and give yourself about 10 minutes to complete this. Note that you do this all at your own risk. If you’re not comfortable with it, hire a nerd.

To be clear here are examples of the messages that you’ll get when opening links:

  • “This operation has been canceled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator.”
  • “Your organization’s policies are preventing us from completing this action for you. For more info, please contact your help desk.”
  • When clicking a link windows always asks for the default program to open links.

The fix:

  • Reset

    1. Delete Cache
      This is something you should be doing regularly. However I know sometimes it’s hard to keep up with maintenance. I usually use the free app ccleaner to automate this. If you’re in the mood to do it manually without a third party application then make sure to clear the following: 

      1. Delete Browser Cache
      2. Delete Temp Files
      3. Delete Prefetch
      4. Delete Java cache
    2. Reset IE
      This is a general quick fix for a lot of IE issues. This will reset IE back to it’s default settings. To do this select Start > Control Panel> Internet Options > Advanced > Reset.
  • Set Defaults

    1. Set IE
      You can set IE as your default through Start > Control Panel > Internet Options > Programs > Make Default. You should also set windows defaults to use IE. Even if you want to use a third-party applications, for the sake of resolving this issue we need to set everything back to Microsoft.
    2. Set Outlook
      This is a step many people overlook. Setting Outlook as your default mail client can help windows in any case you have more than one mail program installed. You can set this in Internet Options and also in Windows defaults.
  • Registry

    1. Open the registry editor, Start > Run >regedit
    2. Backup the registry, just to cover your ass.
    3. Go to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes
    4. Find the .htm and .html folders
    5. Change default value from “chromehtml” to “htmlfile”, or if FireFox from “firefoxhtml” to “htmlfile”
    6. You can also search for any more instances of “chromehtml” or “firefoxhtml” in any other extensions you want to open with IE.


Reboot your system and test it out. Links should now open just fine. If you want to install Chrome or FireFox you should now be able to. Just keep in mind if you want to uninstall you may need to redo this fix.

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