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Why won't some links open in email messages?

Answer: Most email clients support hyperlinks within the text of an email message. However, sometimes when you receive a link from someone, it either won't open at all or it will not open the correct URL. So why does this happen?

If a link does not open in your Web browser when you click on it, your email client may not recognize the way the link was formatted. Since some email clients handle links differently, the way one email program or webmail interface formats links may not be recognized by another email client. This typically happens when email clients use a proprietary version of text formatting rather than generating an HTML message. If a link doesn't work when you click on it, you can copy the link from the email message, then paste it in the address bar of your Web browser. When you press Enter, the correct webpage should open.

If a link opens the wrong location, you may see a "404" (Page Not Found) error message appear in your browser window. The most common reason this happens is because a link was truncated at the end of a line. Some email clients and mail servers limit the number of characters on each line of text. This type of word wrap uses a "hard return," which can break up long links into two or more lines. When you click on this type of link, only the first line may be entered into the Web browser. The result is a 404 error, since the partial URL is not valid.

Fixing a multi-line link takes a little bit of work. You must first copy the top line of the link, then paste it into the address bar of your Web browser. Then copy the second line and paste it immediately after the first line in your Web browser. If the link takes up more than two lines, you need to do the same with each additional line. Once you have pasted all the lines of the link side by side in your Web browser's address field, press Enter. The correct webpage should open.

Important: In some cases links can also be broken by spaces within the link. If an email link isn't opening correctly and you notice it includes one or more spaces, try copying and pasting the link into your Web browser. This will ensure the entire link is entered into the browser's address field.

Published: March 23, 2011 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center