Microsoft small business knowledge base

Article ID: 218153 - Last Review: August 1, 2014 - Revision: 9.0


When you create a hyperlink in an Office document and then click the link, you may receive one of these error messages:

Unable to open <URL>. Cannot locate the Internet server or proxy server.

Unable to open <URL>. Cannot open the specified file.

<URL> = the hyperlink you inserted.

NOTE: The hyperlink does work if you type it directly in the browser or in the Open box of the Run dialog box (click Start, and then click Run).


This problem occurs when the following conditions are true:

  • You are using Microsoft Internet Explorer:

    • A proxy server -or-

    • A firewall that does not allow HTTP requests to be placed on your local network

  • Internet Explorer is not your default browser.


  • The ForceShellExecute registry key is not present in the following location or is not set to 1:

    For 32 bit Office Versions installed on 64 bit OperatingSystems


    For 32 Bit Office Versions installed on 32 bit Operating Systems or 64 Bit Office Versions installed on 64 bit Operating Systems

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \Software\Microsoft\Office\9.0\Common\Internet


Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322756  ( ) How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

To have us work around this problem for you, go to the "Fix it for me" section. If you prefer to fix this problem yourself, go to the "Let me fix it myself" section.

Fix it for me

To fix this problem automatically, click the Fix it button or link. In the File Download dialog box, click Run and then follow the steps in the Fix it Wizard.
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Fix this problem (
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  • This wizard may be in English only. However, the automatic fix also works for other language versions of Windows.
  • If you are not on the computer that has the problem, save the Fix it solution to a flash drive or a CD and then run it on the computer that has the problem.

Then, go to the "Did this fix the problem?" section.

Let me fix it myself

To work around this issue, either add the ForceShellExecute subkey, if it is not present, and set the Value data, or if it is present, set the Value data of the ForceShellExecute subkey.

Adding the Internet Subkey to the Registry and Setting the Value Data

  1. Quit any programs that are running.
  2. Click Start, and then click Run. Type regedit in the Open box, and then click OK.
  3. In Registry Editor, browse to one of the following subkey (create the keys when they do not exist):
    For a 32 Bit version of Office on 64 bit version of Windows


    For a 32 Bit version of Office on 32 bit version of Windows


    For a 64 Bit version of Office on 64 bit version of Windows


  4. Make sure the Internet subkey is selected. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value. Add the following registry value:
    Value Name: ForceShellExecute
  5. Double-click ForceShellExecute, and then set the Value data to 1. Click OK.
  6. On the Registry menu, click Exit.

Did this fix the problem?

  • Check whether the problem is fixed. If the problem is fixed, you are finished with this section. If the problem is not fixed, you can contact support ( .
  • We would appreciate your feedback. To provide feedback or to report any issues with this solution, please leave a comment on the "Fix it for me ( " blog or send us an email ( message.

More information

A hyperlink may not go to a Microsoft Word document or a Microsoft Excel worksheet after you use this workaround. For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
280680  ( ) Cannot follow hyperlink to Office document

Applies to
  • Microsoft Word 2013
  • Microsoft Outlook 2013
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2013
  • Microsoft Excel 2013
  • Microsoft Word 2010
  • Microsoft Outlook 2010
  • Microsoft Excel 2010
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2010
  • Microsoft Office Word 2007
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007
  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003
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