Last reviewed on April 3, 2014   —  43 comments

Outlook 2013 iconOne of the new features in Office 2013 is Hardware Graphics Acceleration which is supposed to improve performance. It doesn't always work well on older computers (and even some new ones). Symptoms include blurred text, cursor hangs randomly, and Outlook freezing for a few seconds (or longer).

Although many of the complaints subsided since this article was originally published, problems with Outlook 2013 crashing or hanging on Windows 7 with Aero enabled are recurring following the release of Office 2013 SP1. Disabling Hardware Graphics Acceleration should solve the problem (using a non-Aero theme would also fix it).

I'm seeing a number of complaints where Outlook freezes or hangs and in many of the cases the issue when away when hardware graphics acceleration is disabled.

You can disable the use of Hardware Graphics Acceleration (for the entire Office 2013 suite) from the Options dialog of any Office 2013 application. Each application that is open will need to be closed and restarted after changing the setting.

In Outlook 2013, go to File, Options, Advanced and select Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration, near the bottom of the dialog.

disable hardware acceleration

This value is stored in the registry at

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Common\Graphics
DWORD: DisableHardwareAcceleration
Value: 1 to disable

Administrators can disable hardware graphics acceleration using Group Policy. It's located in the Group Policy Editor under Microsoft Office 2013 > Miscellaneous > Do not use hardware graphics acceleration.

More Information

Visual features or video quality may differ from one computer to another in Office 2013

For help troubleshooting general video issues in any version of Office, see
How to troubleshoot video issues in Office programs

Comments

  1. Dennis O'Malley says

    you may want to check this again. It may need to be 'selected' to disable the acceleration. . "...select: disable hardware graphics acceleartion'

    otherwise this is dead on.

    regards.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Thanks for catching that. It's in Group Policy as 'do not use... ' and my brain was apparently stuck on that phrasing.

  2. Debbie says

    Hi
    I do not have any graphics registry keys and am still having the crashing problem
    Any ideas how to solve this?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      If the key dos not exist, you didn't set the value in outlook's File, Options, Advanced dialog.

  3. stan says

    I was hoping this would solve my problem with Outlook freezing, but it didn't. I'll keep looking and if I find another solution, I'll share

  4. Roger Turner says

    I just purchased MS Office 2013 Small Business edition a week ago - Outlook freezes on me doing various tasks such as moving from inbox to folders, sending email. It does this in safe mode as well. It also freezes up moving emails to folders after I created a new profile with all new folders. I also have an issue where I cannot locate my address book. The global address books (there are 2) and neither has any entrees. Outlook address book has no entrees but when I open a new message and start typing names the message populates the correct contact. My question there would be how do I import my old address book from Outlook 2010. Thanks for any help on the subject.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Was this an upgrade from an older version of Office? What type of email account? I'd probably start with a new profile to eliminate that as a cause.

      What antivirus do you use? I'm not sure which one HP preinstalls, but I know from experience that McAfee can cause problems.

      Do the problems go away if you run Outlook in Safe mode? To open Outlook in Safe mode: Close Outlook then hold Ctrl as you click on the Outlook icon. You'll get a message asking if you want to start in Safe mode. Click Ok.

      If you are using POP3 or IMAP, you can just open the old Outlook 2010 pst in your profile, or you can copy it to the new computer and Import contacts (and calendar, tasks).

    • Diane Poremsky says

      They are here, waiting for approval. I usually don't approve comment until I reply, otherwise they get lost and never answered. :)

  5. Roger Turner says

    Diane all problems persist in safe mode. This was a new installation, no upgrade from a previous version. Microsoft Security Essentials is all the anti virus I am running at this time. I uninstalled McAfee. I am using a POP account now. I have my old address book in a .oab file saved but cannot see where I can import this. Oh also I have created a new Outlook profile twice now. Once created though I have not deleted the old profiles. Just selected to only use the new one each time I created it.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      OAB files are used with Exchange, you can't import them. Did you have an exchange account? If so, and if its one of the old profiles, open that profile and export your contacts to a pst file - then import the pst file into your new profile.

  6. Vicky says

    Thanks so much!!! Had this problem since I started using Outlook 2013, but this solution worked immediately!

  7. Mark says

    I quick stopped the send and receive and did each separately to find out which was crashing. I then used ScanPst.exe on the office directory to fix the offending pst file

  8. Micheael says

    Diane:

    Thank you for taking the time to post this very valuable observation.

    I have been having problems with Outlook 2013 (64 bit version) continually crashing on my laptop (Win 8 64) as soon as auto-archiving starts. I disabled hardware acceleration as you suggested, and that solved the problem.

    Again, thank you VERY much!

  9. Babusjka says

    Thanks. I had the same problem. Whenever i dock or undock my laptop, Outlook would freeze and hang forever. Also when I wake up the computer from hibernate or sleep mode, Outlook would freeze, sometimes with an invisible window on top of other applications.

  10. jeff says

    Can't thank you enough for this post. After purchasing a new Laptop (running Windows 7) and installing Office 365 2013 about 5 months ago I have not been able to get Outlook to open except for in safe mode. Over a period of 2 months I spent over 15 hours on the phone with Microsoft, spent $300 on local 3rd party Technical Support, plus I had numerous friends and acquaintance who are supposedly PC experts to look at it. I continued to search the web until I found your post. Sure enough, disabling hardware graphic acceleration did the trick! Never would have guessed that one.

    Another interesting twist, Outlook would open if someone was connected to my PC via a screen share or remote desktop program. It was driving both me and the MS Techs nuts because I could not get Outlook to open until they connected to my PC, then it would open. At first they thought I was crazy. I still don't understand that one, I'm assuming that those applications must do something to the graphics card allowing Outlook to open???

    Thanks again.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      RDP doesn't use all of the graphics card capabilities - so acceleration was off for the RDP session. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, it's something I wouldn't thought about.

  11. mph says

    I think this might have done the trick. No crashes yet since I found your article and disabled the acceleration. What a ridiculous bug this is.

  12. Chris says

    Office has been working fine for nearly a year and suddenly cannot open any of the products. Re-install and repair you name it done everything. Then found mention of this issue disabled hardware acceleration and now works perfectly no performance issues. Checked all updates and can find nothing that broke this. Strange issue.

  13. Steohen Chiang says

    WOW, exactly the problem I faced. Everytime I would get on via GoToAssist, everything would work dandy, when I logged off, it would happen again. Finally switched to TeamViewer so that I could at least replicate the problem. What a weird, funky and very time consuming issue to diagnose!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Disabling Desktop Composition disables all Aero features - while disabling hardware graphics acceleration in office only will allow you to keep your Aero theme and have little to no effect on graphics in Office applications.

  14. D Ev1971 says

    I had the same issue. After installing SP1, Outlook 2013 would freeze when I tried to open a message or move from Inbox to Calendar.

    Getting the latest Nvidia driver fixed the issue.

    I have a Dell Latitude e6530 with Windows 7 x64, Nvida 5200M and an Intel HD Graphics 4000.

  15. Tad Hofkin says

    After typing a few words in Outlook 365 (13-?), screen freezes, cursor disappears, can't do anything. Ctrl-Alt-Delete gives me this info: CPU usage 25 - 48 %, Physical Memory 76%. I tried disabling Hardware Graphic Accelerator every way. Nothing helps... :( ANYBODY???

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Does it does this in Safe mode? What addins are installed? I have weirdness when the dragon naturally speaking add-in is enabled, but nothing this bad.

  16. John shen says

    my problem solved with disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration. my problem is: everytime I open outlook or create new email is hang (not-reponse) until I press control-alt-del. I have run in safe mode then all fine. I run office 2013. thank you very much for the solution.

  17. Tad Hofkin says

    Did not try in Safe mode. I disabled Hardware Graphic, checked and disabled add-ins (do not have dragon), removed old (2007) office files, it works and then..., again freezes. I am thinking about going back to 2007 or "upgrade/downgrade" to 2010. Also, i doubled my memory in Vestro. Is it DELL or it is Microsoft? Here (this reply), no problem... Go figure.

  18. Tad Hofkin says

    I just tried enabled Hardware Graphic. It froze after approximately the same (20-30) number of characters, thank you very much. Since it does NOT act in this (reply mode here) software, I'd venture to say it is MS/Office problem. BTW, I also reloaded (repaired) Office. All the same, same as the last Winter - deeeeeeeeeeeeeeep freeeeeeeeeeze time and time again. MERCY!!!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It's a problems with the video drivers and office. Office solves it on their end by disabling hardware acceleration in office. If you update your video drivers, it may work, but it really adds little to the office experience for the average user.

  19. Tad Hofkin says

    Are you suggesting reverting to Office 2010 or even 2007? BTW, updating driver did NOT help...

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I would not revert to 2007. If you want to revert to 2010, it's up to you. I know a lot of people prefer 2010 just for the colors. :) If it works with hardware acceleration disabled, keep it off - the benefit of using hardware graphics acceleration in office is very low for most people.

      If its not working either way, what addins do you have installed? Does it ever work as expected? Do you use Lync?

  20. Tad Hofkin says

    2010 it is; I like graphics too. 2013 looks like AutoCAD (plagiarized - ???). Only addons I have are for Norton. Please enlighten me about Lync and it's relation to Office.

    BTW - no hangups in this reply, not now, not before...

    Thank for putting up with me :)....

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Lync is a messenger-like application for business accounts. It can keep Outlook open after you close the interface and when you restart outlook, it'll crash, even in Safe mode. You need to exit Lync, then start outlook.

      If Norton installed an outlook addin, it could be the cause if the crash. The addins installed by antivirus/security software doesn't always play nicely with outlook and doesn't make you any safer.

  21. Tad Hofkin says

    Norton tool bar is the only addin; never before had problems with lower version of Outlook. I do not, or plan to, use Lync. Thanks for the info though.

  22. jim9sullivan says

    Particularly relevant for Virtual Machines and Remote Desktop environments.

    Good one Diane

  23. bluecollarcritic says

    @Diane

    Enabling this option (To disable Hardware Acceleration) resulted in an immediate improvement performance-wise of OL2013. Unfortunately though it seems in the 2-3 hours after making that change (and restarting OL) , OL has once again slowed back down although its not anywhere near as bad as before I disable hardware acceleration.

    Not sure if it matters or not but we use App-V and so my IT admin is telling me that OL should not be slow/lockup no matter what setting is enabled/disabled since OL is not actually running on my system.

    Thoughts on OL2013 being slow when running under App-V?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I'm not sure if Hardware acceleration will affect App-V. It's streamed, but it still needs to use local resources to display and it helped when you disabled it. (App-V is not my area of expertise.)

      Are the other office apps slow? Are you using online or cached mode? (Online is best with remote desktop applications.)

  24. A says

    My Office 2013 apps hang occasionally after resume from standby or connecting/disconnecting secondary monitor. However, I found another workaround, hinted by this line:

    >> (using a non-Aero theme would also fix it)

    So, what I'm doing is just going to desktop properties and switching to a Basic theme and back to Aero (using Win7). This resets something in Windows and unfreezes Office apps w/o having to kill them or disable hardware acceleration.

    I am amazed how Office 2007, 2010 and 2013, while bringing interesting productivity enhancements are becoming increasingly less stable in most basic aspects that were rock solid for years. And Outlook is usually at the forefront :) (rant mode off)

  25. Shawn says

    Thank-you Diane. Your article saved me a world of heart ache and hair pulling. Something I also found is that I had to disable the acceleration from one of the other Office 2013 programs, as I was unable to do it from in Outlook 2013. Didn't see anyone else post that, so I thought maybe it will help someone also.

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