Office 2011 14.5.0 and Outlook main window invisibility
When the Office 2011 14.5.0 update was released, it was initially noteworthy for the fact that in certain circumstances it removed Office’s license. Shortly thereafter, Outlook 14.5.0 became noteworthy for the fact that Outlook’s main window (which displays the mailboxes, list of emails, calendars and other functions) was now invisible.
Another thing that was curious was that this problem did not affect everyone. It seemed to affect only those who met both of the following conditions:
- Macs running 10.10.x
- Accounts that had mailbox subfolders and had those mailbox subfolders expanded at the time of quitting Outlook.
Update – 5-22-2015: Microsoft has released Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 14.5.1 Update to address this issue. As of 5-22-2015 at 11:37 AM UTC, the 14.5.1 update is not yet available in Microsoft’s update feed for Office 2011, so it will need to be manually downloaded from Microsoft’s website. It’s available from the link below:
With this update, the procedure to fix should now be this:
1. Quit all open Office applications
2. Install the Office 2011 for Mac 14.5.1 update.
3. Once the 14.5.1 update has been installed, launch Outlook
Outlook’s main window should be visible again and work normally.
Update – 5-27-2015: The Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 14.5.1 Update is now available via the Office 2011 update feed. If you’re not familiar with updating Office 2011 for Mac, please see here for how to update using Microsoft Office’s AutoUpdate application.
Once the Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 14.5.1 Update has been installed, Outlook’s main window should be visible again and work normally.
For better or for worse, I have a large number of mailbox subfolders so I could pretty much reproduce this issue (which I quickly dubbed Inbox Invisible) on demand.
A number of suggested fixes included the following:
- Removing the Outlook preferences from ~/Library/Preferences
- Rebuilding the Outlook identity
- Deleting cache files
- Some combination of all of the above
In my testing, those fixes would work for one time. I’d launch Outlook, the main window would be there, I’d quit Outlook and re-launch it and be confronted again with Inbox Invisible.
What ultimately fixed it for both myself and those in my shop affected by this issue was the following:
- Quitting all Office applications
- Uninstalling Office 2011
- Restarting the Mac
- Reinstall Office 14.4.9 following the restart.
Outlook started working again once rolled back to 14.4.9. The weird thing was that uninstalling Office and reinstalling it fixed the issue, without needing to change anything else. This is one of the very few times I can recall when uninstalling Office 2011 and reinstalling it actually addressed a serious problem. Normally, problems with Outlook are caused by something amiss on the user account or email account level. However, it looks like there may be an explanation. For more details, see below the jump.
In a posting on JAMF Nation, Devin Kass was able to link this issue as being similar to one that occurred during the Yosemite development process.
As part of a conversation on Twitter, Erik Schwiebert posted something to support this hypothesis by claiming that Apple had introduced a change to fix this issue, but it only applied to versions of Outlook that were earlier than 14.5.0.
Further in the conversation, Schwiebert mentioned that if you change the version info for Outlook 14.5.0 back to reporting that it was Outlook 14.4.9, the problem should go away.
I decided to test this out and sure enough, the main window came back and was fine.
I would not recommend this fix for production use, but it is supporting evidence that the OS is making a version check somewhere as part of allowing the main window to appear and 14.5.0 isn’t passing that version check. Hopefully, the problem will be addressed soon and an update to fix this issue appears quickly.