Favorite Folders empty upon restart

I have added some folders to the “Favorites” list but each time I exit Outlook, the favorite folders get deleted.

How do I get Outlook to keep my favorites?

Show in Favorites buttonIt is clear that something got corrupted, but it is hard to say directly what caused it. However, there are a few troubleshooting steps to determine what caused it and you can also make a backup of your Favorite Folders list so you can easily restore it when it still happens.

Reset the Navigation Pane

The first thing that you should do when this happens is to close Outlook and start it again with the /resetnavpane switch. You won’t get your folders back though, but this can take out certain corruptions which can prevent it from happening again.

  • Start-> type; outlook.exe /resetnavpane

Starting Outlook with the resetnavpane switch in Windows 10.
After opening the Start Menu, simply start typing the command and press ENTER to execute it. (note the space in the command above)

Note: For a list of other command line switches for Outlook see the guide; How to use command line switches

Cause 1: Outlook doesn’t close properly

If this doesn’t solve it and your newly created Favorite Folders are still deleted upon restarting Outlook, then it could be that Outlook doesn’t properly close so it can’t save your Favorite Folders list either. To determine if you are having any shutdown issues with Outlook, see this guide.

Cause 2: Special characters in folder and file names

Another reason could be that you have used special characters in the folder/file names that you have added to your Favorites section, Calendar/Tasks/Contacts groups or the Shortcuts Navigation. Some (rare) characters seem not to translate well to the Navigation Pane xml-file and will cause the writing or loading of it to abort. If it fails when writing, the xml-file is usually 0KB (see the “Backup the Navigation Pane settings” section for the location of the xml-file section to determine that).

Note: If you’ve been able to determine a special character which causes this to happen, call Microsoft Support and report it as a bug.

Cause 3: Mail profile corruption

If you’re not having any shutdown issues and you’ve disabled all your add-ins to troubleshoot this, it could be that you have a corruption in your mail profile. See if the issue also occurs for your other mail profile(s) or create a new mail profile for testing purposes and see if it still happens then.

Backup the Navigation Pane settings

In the mean time, it’s good to make a backup of your Navigation Pane settings which includes the Favorite Folders as well. They are kept in an xml-file named after your mail profile. So if your mail profile is called “Outlook” (which is the default) then your settings file is called outlook.xml. A simple file copy to your backup location will do. You can find the xml-file in the following location;

  • C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook\ 

Note: The above location is a hidden folder. You can either type the location directly in the Address Bar in Explorer or enable to show hidden folders in Windows File Explorer;

  • View-> enable: Hidden items.

Show Hidden Items in File Explorer.
Show Hidden Items in File Explorer.

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