Outlook 2013 hangs due to hardware acceleration

Last reviewed on April 3, 2014

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

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

40 responses to “Outlook 2013 hangs due to hardware acceleration”

  1. Dennis O

    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.

  2. Debbie

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

  3. stan

    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. David

    Did you find another solution Stan ?

  5. Roger Turner

    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.

  6. Roger Turner

    One other note....I am on a Win7 Pro 64 bit system (new HP). MS Office 2013 is 32 bit

  7. Roger Turner

    Where did my posts go?

  8. Roger Turner

    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.

  9. Vicky

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

  10. Mark

    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

  11. Micheael

    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!

  12. Babusjka

    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.

  13. jeff

    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.

  14. mph

    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.

  15. Chris

    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.

  16. Steohen Chiang

    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!

  17. citcitor
  18. D Ev1971

    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.

  19. Tad Hofkin

    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???

  20. John shen

    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.

  21. Tad Hofkin

    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.

  22. Tad Hofkin

    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!!!

  23. Tad Hofkin

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

  24. Tad Hofkin

    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 :)....

  25. Tad Hofkin

    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.

  26. jim9sullivan

    Particularly relevant for Virtual Machines and Remote Desktop environments.

    Good one Diane

  27. bluecollarcritic

    @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?

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