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Using the /CLEANVIEWS command-line switch in Outlook

/CLEANVIEWS is a command-line switch you can use to troubleshoot Outlook when custom views are damaged or corrupt and preventing items from being opened or read correctly.


Outlook has several command-line switches that are used to force the program to start in one of several maintenance modes. In the event that some of Outlook's functions become corrupt, you might need to use one of these maintenance modes to restore full functionality.

One such switch, /CLEANVIEWS, is used when one or more custom views in Outlook is corrupt, and preventing items from being opened or read correctly.

Custom views in Outlook are rendered through XML, and can be done programmatically. For instance, a custom view would allow you to render a view of one's Inbox as a calendar or timeline (instead of a table), with the date and time each message was received as an object in the view.

A damaged custom view might not show up consistently (it might appear or disappear), though, or might render data incorrectly and lead you to believe your Outlook data itself was damaged.

Another symptom of a damaged viewset is when attempting to open an item in the Inbox brings up the error:

Unable to display the selected folder or item. 
Could not complete the operation. 
One or more parameter values are not valid.

This can happen in many modes, not just the Inbox. For instance, the Calendar may show incomplete or incorrect appointment information, or may simply not show up at all. Sometimes the damage is very subtle, such as the Replied-To icon not showing up on messages that have had replies sent.

Note that there are a few cases where you might need to run Outlook a second time with the /CLEANVIEWS switch to get all the custom views removed.

Also, views of items in public folders are affected by /CLEANVIEWS, so if public folder items don't seem to be showing up properly, this may be one way to address the issue.

Finally, bear in mind that all custom views will be removed if you do this, so any custom views you want to keep will need to be restored by hand after this operation.

Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter.


How do you start Outlook from the command line?
—Gary L.


You can launch Outlook from the command line by simply typing Outlook in the Start -> Run dialog box and pressing Enter.
—Serdar Yegulalp, tip author


Is there a complete list of Microsoft Outlook switches available on the Web? I wasn't able to find one.
—Filip V.


Check out OutlookTools, a free utility I wrote about in the tip "Free tool taps into Microsoft Outlook's advanced settings." It lets you launch Microsoft Outlook with any of its available command-line switches enabled, and documents what all of them do.
—Serdar Yegulalp, tip author


I couldn't open Microsoft Outlook 2003 with an Exchange account. It would return an error that asked me to restart.

When I set up the Exchange profile to load into a .PST data file instead of the Exchange Server mailbox, Microsoft Outlook opened. I discovered that only the Inbox folder would not open -- all the other folders (default or created) would open. Microsoft Outlook automatically defaults to the Inbox folder, causing this error.

I ran Microsoft Outlook with the /CLEANVIEWS switch and the application opened with no problem. Your tip worked great!
—Joe R.

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