ScenarioSome users of the 32-bit versions of Microsoft Office 2013 and 2016 (including the Office 365 versions) who are also on Windows 8 and above, are experiencing an issue where Outlook stops rendering properly, leading to a white screening or black screening effect where text and other graphical elements appear blank. One or more of the following may occur:
Note: This image is just one example. The black boxes may appear anywhere in Outlook.The issue occurs intermittently. It remains until Outlook is restarted.
1. Update 32-bit Office to get the Large Address Aware (LAA) feature
Microsoft recommends updating to the latest version of Office to ensure you’re using a version with the LAA feature.
Note: The introduction of the LAA feature first appears in the May 1, 2018 updates for 32-bit Office (KB4018372 for Outlook 2016; KB4018376 for Outlook 2013). These changes have been available in Office 365 since version 1709, build 8528.2147.
Microsoft has two notes about this recommendation.
To check whether you’re currently using a version of Office that supports the LAA feature, follow these steps:
dumpbin /headers "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\Outlook.exe" | more
dumpbin /headers "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\Outlook.exe" | more
Note: If you're using Office 365, add "\root" to the directory path after "\Microsoft Office". E.g. "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\Outlook.exe"
2. Use 64-bit Office
Microsoft strongly recommends that customers upgrade to 64-bit Office. This version of Office provides the ability for add-ins to use up to 128GB of physical memory (assuming the machine provides that much memory), which is substantially more than what’s possible with 32-bit Office and means that the issue is highly unlikely to occur again.
If you choose to upgrade to 64-bit Office, you must also use the 64-bit version of Workshare, which you can get for free. See the system requirements and download instructions in Important information for 64-bit download.
If you're unable to use one of Microsoft's recommendations, there are several mitigations you can take to decrease the frequency of the issue.
Update all COM add-ins
Any COM add-in used with Outlook may be affecting the rendering issue and, as such, the issue has been to reported many of our technology partners. You should update all your COM add-ins to ensure you're using the latest technology available.
To see which COM add-ins you're using, in Outlook, go to File > Options > Add-Ins, then ensure the Manage field is set to COM Add-ins and click Go.
The rendering failures occur when Outlook runs out space for memory allocations within its virtual memory space. When Outlook is restarted, its virtual memory allocations are reset so the issue is temporarily resolved until the virtual memory allocations are depleted again.
Enable hardware graphics acceleration
To enable this option, in Outlook, go to File > Options > Advanced and deselect Disable hardware graphics acceleration.
Disable animations when expanding conversations and groups
By default, Outlook displays a brief animation while expanding message conversations or groups. This animation can reproduce a rendering issue where black or white boxes are displayed in Outlook, which, at first glance, appears to be the virtual memory fragmentation issue. However, this is actually a separate issue which affects both 32-bit and 64-bit Office.
You can reduce the frequency of this issue by disabling the animation. To turn the animation option off, in Outlook, go to File > Options > Advanced and deselect Use animations when expanding conversations and groups.
If you're uncertain whether you're experiencing the animations issue or the memory fragmentation issue, try turning animations off and see if the issue subsides. It it does, it was likely the source of the problem.
Use Workshare's latest metadata cleaning process
Workshare has changed the way it cleans metadata. The new method no longer resides in the Outlook process, which reduces the amount of virtual memory required to the absolute minimum. This new cleaning process may decrease the frequency of the issue.
Upgrade to the latest version of Workshare and run a REG key to enable the new metadata cleaning processNote 1: This functionality was first introduced with Workshare 9.5.2.
If you're on Workshare 9.5 or Workshare 9.5.1 and you're unable to upgrade
You can get a patch for Workshare 9.5 and Workshare 9.5.1 that includes this updated cleaning process. Please raise a case to Workshare Support and request patch CR01111190.
Note: The patch deploys the registry key required to enable the new metadata cleaning process.
Microsoft has acknowledged that the issue seems to surface most frequently on high-resolution monitors and multi-monitor configurations.
Workshare has conducted an in-depth investigation to confirm how much memory is used by the Workshare COM add-in. The investigation has concluded that it consumes very little memory. If you're concerned, you can update to Workshare's latest metadata cleaning process, which takes the processing out of Outlook entirely (see the Mitigations section of this article).
Test the issue
If you'd like to validate whether you're experiencing the virtual memory issue described in this article, you can collect a log of the activity that occurs at the time of the problem and send it to us.
Note: Restarting Outlook temporarily resolves the issue, so if you're experiencing the issue at the time of reading this, avoid restarting Outlook before following the steps.
This issue has very similar symptoms to an issue with the brief animations Outlook displays when expanding message conversations or groups. Because the animation issue is easy to test, Workshare recommends you first try turning animations off.
If the issue persists, follow these steps to capture a log: