Fix General Failure when Open Link or URL from Outlook and Windows Mail

Many people still use a traditional email client on their Windows computer to view, write and organize emails instead of online webmail services such as those offered by Microsoft Outlook/Hotmail, Google GMail or Yahoo Mail. The two most popular Windows mail clients are most likely Windows Live Mail from the free Windows Essentials 2012 and Microsoft’s Outlook from their Office suite, Outlook is especially popular where business use is concerned.

If you allow HTML emails in your client, you will of course receive emails with clickable hyperlinks inside which can be clicked on, and the link is automatically opened in your default web browser. There is quite an annoying issue that can commonly occur in a mail client which is when you click on a link in an email, it doesn’t load the page in the web browser but instead throws up an error that the URL couldn’t be opened. For Microsoft Outlook users, you could get a popup error that says:

General failure. The URL was: “http://www.website.com/”. Application not found

outlook genral failure error

For people who are using Windows Live Mail, you’ll get a somewhat different error that might say:

http://www.website.com/ Application not found

live mail application not found

Other email clients such as The Bat! can also be affected by this problem, although Outlook Express and Mozilla Thunderbird seem not to suffer the same issue Like most files in Windows, a hyperlink should be associated with an application that can open and view it. These errors occur when that association gets broken due to corrupt registry entries pointing to the wrong or a non existent program to open the HTTP or HTTPS link. Installing or uninstalling web browsers are the most common cause of this problem. The ways to fix the issue can be very simple, here’s a few solutions for you to try out.

An Easy Fix for the General Failure Error

The simplest way to rid yourself of this error is to change the default web browser in Windows. When you make your favorite browser the default it sets itself up to open all URL links you click on.

Make Internet Explorer the Default Browser

If IE is your default browser and the General Failure problem occurs, you can make something else like Chrome or Firefox your default browser first, and then make IE the default again afterwards. If Chrome or Firefox is your default you can make IE the default first and then do the same. This has the effect of resetting all the default open with programs for HTTP URLs.

1. Open Internet Explorer and click on the options cog wheel at the top right, then select “Internet Option”, alternatively press Alt+X then press O.

make ie default browser

2. Click the Programs tab and press “Make default” to turn IE into your default browser. If it’s not normally your default browser, make sure the “Tell me if Internet Explorer is not the default web browser” is not ticked.

3. Open your previously chosen default browser like Chrome or Firefox and hopefully it should now ask if you would like to make it the default again, simply select Yes and it should fix your problem. If not you can manually do so below.

reset to default browser

Make Chrome Your Default Browser

If Internet Explorer or Firefox is installed as your preferred browser and you also have Chrome installed, you can easily make it the default browser temporarily to reset the settings.

1. With Chrome open, click the Menu button (3 horizontal lines) and select Settings. Towards the bottom near the advanced Settings button should be the “Default Browser” button which you should press.

make chrome default browser

Make Firefox the Default Browser

Like the other browsers, you can use Firefox to reset the default browser settings so they can be automatically reconfigured again, hopefully fixing the issue.

1. In Firefox, click the 3 line Menu button and select Options (Alt+T > O), the default browser button is at the bottom of the Advanced > General tab.

make firefox default browser

Manually Setting the Browser Defaults

If for some reason the simple process of setting the default browser option above didn’t work to cure the issue, you can also manually set the default program to open hyperlinks via Windows Control Panel. There’s a couple of ways to do it.

Setting Defaults by Browser

1. Open Control Panel > Default Programs, click on “Set program access and computer defaults” and then on Custom to open a drop down.

2. Under “Choose a default web browser”, select the browser you want to make default and click OK. Do not choose “Use my current Web browser”, even if there’s only IE listed..

set program defaults for browser

Setting Defaults by Protocol

This makes sure the default program to open the HTTP(S) protocol is set correctly.

1. In Control Panel > Default Programs, click “Set your default programs” and click on the browser you want to make default from the Programs list on the left.

2. You can either try the “Set this program as default” option or click on “Choose defaults for this program”. If choosing the latter, look under the Protocols section, put a tick in both HTTP and HTTPS and click Save. If you regularly receive FTP links, that protocol can be ticked also. As you can see from the image below, HTTP is associated with an unknown application and therefore won’t open hyperlinks.

set association protocol

Repairing Registry Values

If the above fixes still don’t work for you, it may require some editing in the system registry to help things along, here are a couple of fixes you could try.

A Known Firefox Registry Fix

This is a well known fix for getting your hyperlinks working again but applies only if you have Mozilla Firefox installed. This was much more common in older versions of Firefox, but there’s still a possibility of the issue occurring today.

1. Press Win+R to open the Run box and type Regedit, or type Regedit into the Start Search box.

2. In Regedit open the following registry key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\FirefoxURL\shell\open\ddeexec

In the right pane, double click the (Default) value to bring up the Edit String window. If the value data is anything other that blank, delete the contents and click OK. A data value of "%1",,0,0,,,, would be what you most commonly see.

delete firefoxurl value data

Alternatively, to avoid playing in the registry, simply download the zipped .REG file below and double click on the file inside to import into the registry.

Download Repair_FireFoxURL_DDEExec.zip

Register Your Browser via Registry Files

If for some reason you have deeper rooted problems in Windows and you can’t get to change the settings via Control Panel or the default browser options don’t work, you can always import the registry data manually. Here are 3 registry files we have created for the most popular browsers (IE, Chrome and Firefox), that when you double click on, will register the browser as the default HTTP and HTTPS handler so Outlook or Live Mail will open hyperlinks.

Register_Chrome_HTTP.zip
Register_Firefox_HTTP.zip
Register_IE_HTTP.zip

Simply download the zip and run the .REG file inside to register the chosen browser. The registry file assumes you have Chrome or Firefox installed at the default location of “C:\Program Files”.

You might also like:

33 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Upi 1 day ago
  2. Thom Burns 5 months ago
  3. Damon 6 months ago
  4. Watcharin 8 months ago
  5. mmartell 10 months ago
  6. Melissa F 2 years ago
  7. Joe Holler 2 years ago
  8. pbs 3 years ago
  9. Karl Wall 3 years ago
  10. Asen 4 years ago
  11. denis 5 years ago
  12. Maneesh Upreti 6 years ago
  13. Randall 7 years ago
  14. Cecile_lala 7 years ago
  15. CSCart Templates 7 years ago
  16. Imran Farooqi 8 years ago
  17. Suvidya 8 years ago
  18. alexxht 8 years ago
  19. Barry 8 years ago
  20. ranfot 8 years ago
  21. Komarik 8 years ago
  22. Yepper2 8 years ago
  23. Laura 8 years ago
  24. Paul 8 years ago
  25. holly 8 years ago
  26. Audrey Mottishaw 8 years ago
  27. xenia 8 years ago
  28. SoCalGuy 8 years ago
  29. Dan Austin 8 years ago
  30. Tommy Madison 8 years ago
  31. Felicia B. 8 years ago
  32. Tommy Madison 8 years ago
  33. Matthew 8 years ago

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Note: Your comment is subject to approval. Read our Terms of Use. If you are seeking additional information on this article, please ask in our forum or contact us directly.