Cannot Locate the Internet Server or Proxy Server in Excel, Word, PowerPoint

Having trouble clicking on hyperlinks in Excel, Word, or PowerPoint? Getting an error saying “Cannot locate the Internet server or proxy server”? This frustrating issue can prevent you from opening web links, but thankfully there are a few ways to resolve it.

What Causes This Error Message?

The “cannot locate the Internet server or proxy server” error typically occurs because of a misconfiguration with your browser, proxy server, or firewall settings.

Here are some common causes:

  • Using Microsoft Internet Explorer as your default browser with a restrictive proxy server or firewall
  • Having a missing or incorrect registry key related to Microsoft Office’s handling of hyperlinks
  • Outdated browser or Microsoft Office software
  • Conflicts with antivirus software or other programs

Step-by-Step Fixes

Here are 8 methods to try fixing the proxy server error in Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and other Office apps.

1. Check Your Default Browser

The error often stems from Internet Explorer being set as the default browser. [5] Try changing your default browser to Chrome, Firefox, or Edge and test if hyperlinks now work properly.

2. Adjust Proxy Settings

If proxy settings are blocking Office from accessing the internet, you’ll need to configure them to allow traffic. [5] Go to your browser and disable the proxy or adjust settings to exclude local network addresses.

3. Reset Internet Explorer

Since IE causes issues, resetting its settings may help. [5] Open Internet Options and choose the “Advanced” tab. Click “Reset” to restore IE’s original settings.

4. Add a Registry Key

Adding a registry key tells Office apps like Word to open links in your operating system’s default browser instead. [1][3][6] Open the Registry Editor and add the key ForceShellExecute set to a value of 1.

5. Check Your Firewall

Try disabling your antivirus or firewall temporarily to see if that’s blocking access. [9] If links work after disabling security software, you’ll need to adjust its settings.

6. Update Office and Windows

Outdated software can sometimes cause technical issues. [9] Make sure you have the latest versions of Microsoft Office, Windows, and your internet browser.

7. Reset Network Settings

As a last resort, resetting your network settings may resolve the problem. [8] Open Command Prompt as admin and run commands like ipconfig /flushdns.

8. Switch to Web Versions

If all else fails, use the free web-based versions of Office apps at These avoid local network conflicts entirely.

Why Does This Error Happen?

To understand this error better, let’s break down exactly what goes wrong when you click an Office hyperlink:

  1. You click on a link in Word, Excel, PowerPoint or another Office program.
  2. The request gets sent to a protocol handler called Urlmon.dll.
  3. Urlmon tries to pass the request on to your browser or proxy server. [6]
  4. A proxy, firewall, or misconfiguration blocks Urlmon from properly handing off the request.
  5. Urlmon displays the vague “cannot locate the Internet server” error message.

So in summary, the hyperlink itself works fine. But something interferes when Office tries communicating with your browser or proxy server. By adjusting settings to resolve this communication issue, you can eliminate the problem entirely.

Prevent the Error From Happening Again

Here are some tips to avoid this obnoxious error message in the future:

  • Don’t use Internet Explorer as your default browser unless needed
  • Regularly update your software to the latest versions
  • Make sure your browser and antivirus/firewall don’t block local network traffic
  • Use the Office 365 web versions when possible
  • Double check your proxy settings match your network environment

Taking preventative steps like these will help ensure Office hyperlinks continue working properly. No more dealing with vague error messages interrupting your workflow!

Hopefully the fixes outlined in this article resolve your “cannot locate the Internet or proxy server” issues once and for all. Let us know in the comments if you have any other methods for addressing this problem. And don’t forget to share this guide with friends and coworkers who run into this pesky Office error.