Fix Outlook 'General Failure' Error for E-Mail Links

So out of the blue today, I click a link embedded in an e-mail, and Outlook gives me this error:

General failure. The URL was: "http://www.someURL.com" The system cannot find the file specified.

Oh, Outlook. If I had a nickel for every weird, random error you've produced over the years, I'd be sitting on a wheelbarrow full of nickels. (FWIW, I made up the "someURL" part.)

This is a known bug, and has been for years. It occurs when Firefox is your default browser and some glitch (or program) changes that default. Thankfully, there's a fairly easy fix, though it does involve monkeying around in the Registry.

(Note: These instructions apply to Windows Vista and 7 only.)

1. Click Start, type regedit, and then press Enter.

2. Navigate to the following entry: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\FirefoxURL\shell\open\ddeexec

3. In the center pane, double-click the Default entry, then remove whatever value is there (it'll probably be a weird string of numbers and commas).

4. Click OK, then exit Regedit.

5. If Outlook and/or Firefox are open, close them, then restart them.

That should do the trick! If it doesn't work for you, let me know (hasslefree@pcworld.com) and I'll steer you to some other options.

Update: A Microsoft repesentative suggested this fix for the "general failure" error.

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