Home > Mac administration, Mac OS X, Office 2011 > Outlook 2011, OS X El Capitan and the Pinwheel of Patience

Outlook 2011, OS X El Capitan and the Pinwheel of Patience

If you’re planning to upgrade to OS X El Capitan and you use Outlook 2011 to get email from Microsoft Exchange, you may want to delay upgrading. On El Capitan, connecting to Exchange email servers causes Outlook 2011 to freeze and display a beachball cursor.

Update 10-7-2015: Microsoft has released Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 14.5.6 Update, which resolves the problem with Outlook freezing. To get the update, please use the Microsoft AutoUpdate application or download it manually from the link below:


 Outlook Pinwheel of Patience

The issue appears to only affect Outlook 2011 when configured to access Exchange servers. When set up with only IMAP accounts, Outlook 2011 does not appear to display this behavior.

Microsoft is aware of the issue and has posted a knowledgebase article about it:


  1. srikant
    October 1, 2015 at 3:03 am

    hold on shift key and open the outlook app and close it. And open the outlook normally and you are good to go

    • Louis Y
      October 1, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Doesn’t work.

    • Scott McDonald
      October 1, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      This one actually works……thanks a mil!

    • John F
      October 1, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      Worked for me. You must hold shift at open thru close of Outllok, then restart normally (without shift).

      • Curlygrl3
        October 1, 2015 at 10:11 pm

        Thanks John – worked for me : )

      • October 3, 2015 at 1:33 am

        Thank you John F and srikant – back in action

      • October 5, 2015 at 5:59 pm

        Unfortunately didn’t work for me😦 So frustrating!!

    • Van
      October 1, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      This did not work. How is it this seems to work for some but not others? The “Low Res” option was not an option as it is NOT under any sections in the Get Info window.

    • October 1, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      This worked perfectly for me.

    • WB
      October 1, 2015 at 9:12 pm

      Does not work

    • DS
      October 1, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      Worked. Keep shift down throughout the opening and closing of Outlook.

    • October 2, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Thanks Srikant….Worked great for me….

    • A
      October 2, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      Thank you!! This worked perfectly for me.

    • M Adams
      October 2, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      Mr. Srikant, this is the first time in 20+ years that I have replied to a chat link on an IT scale like this, but had to because I can’t thank you enough for this information — while I didn’t see the other ‘low-res’ option (mentioned by others below)…the ‘shift key’ option worked like a charm and I am back up and running. Truly appreciate you and your knowledge — God bless.

      • October 13, 2015 at 1:11 am

        Same here….HOLY FREAK! The shift trick worked. wow!!!

    • Mike
      October 2, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      Holding down shift makes it work for about 10 seconds and then it locks up again.

    • msander
      October 2, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      Thank you, Thank you!

    • ItWorked
      October 2, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      This worked for me .. Thanks!!

    • 1953DAM
      October 2, 2015 at 8:51 pm

      Damn dude. Your good.

    • Curious
      October 3, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      Why does this work? Very curious.

    • DD
      October 4, 2015 at 6:00 am

      This worked for me… Thanks

    • October 5, 2015 at 8:16 am

      srikant, you’re DA MAN! Thank you so much!

    • JpD
      October 5, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      Wow! What made you think of doing that? Thanks!

    • Lori Spikes
      October 5, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      First time it didn’t work. Then I held down the sift key until it opened completely. I have not closed it back down, but at least it has worked for a good five minutes and I have minimized it and then gone back to it.

      • Lori Spikes
        October 5, 2015 at 5:24 pm

        I have closed the application and opened it again. Working well. Thanks for the suggestion!

      • Lori Spikes
        October 5, 2015 at 5:55 pm

        Well I spoke too soon. Not working again. Tried several variations of the above instructions. Any more ideas?

    • October 5, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      Works for me! Thanks!

    • Enrique Hernandez
      October 5, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      I agree “Srikant, you’re DA MAN!” Thank you so much!

    • CA
      October 7, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      Awesome! Thanks I have been fighting with this all morning, our IT people couldn’t even figure it out!

    • David B.
      October 31, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      Thank you Skrikant. It solved all the issues for me too. For those that are still having problems, I had to repeat this 5 or 6 times while Outlook worked out all the issues. I would hold down Shift, open Outlook, it started resolving conflicts and then hang. I would then need to Force Quit Outlook, and repeat. Eventually I was able to open and close Outlook while holding down Shift without it hanging. It has worked just fine since then.

    • Kevin Wong
      November 26, 2015 at 2:45 am

      I echo the others! I’ve never replied, but I have to in this case as such a simple and elegant solution rather than the tedious downloads others suggested. Thank you Srikant!

    • Georges Reicher
      December 8, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      It worked perfectly. Thanks.

    • John Archer
      February 19, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Your solution worked!! I had to do it four times until it fixed it. But it does work!
      Thank you so much!!!

  2. October 1, 2015 at 6:43 am

    Thank you for this warning

  3. michele_riva@hotmail.com
    October 1, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I solved the issue.

    flag the “open in low resolution” in the info of the outlook application. go in finder, application folder, open office 2011, right click on outllook and get info menu. flag the option, restart outlook and work fine.

    I believe that is related to the new metal engine. I had problem in the past when move to retina mac and outlook was not ready.

    Any way is working.



    • October 1, 2015 at 11:20 am

      There is no “open in low res” option in my Office 2011 version available. Anyone else?

      • Louis Y
        October 1, 2015 at 1:30 pm

        right click the outlook in application folder and click on get info… it is there, but it doesn’t work either… beachballed again

    • R.White
      October 1, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Using the open in low resolution solution worked for me and Outlook is now up and running and the SWOD is gone. Thanks Michelle for the tip,

    • Van
      October 1, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      What version of Outlook for Mac 2011 is this working in? I’m running 14.5.5 and I don’t see the Low Res option when I right click and go into Get Info. The trick of holding down the Shift key didnt work either. Pressed and held Shift while opening Outlook, kept holding Shift even as prompted for password (entered password) finished loading/loggin in. Closed outlook – while still pressing Shift – restarted and the dang pinwheel showed up again after a couple minutes.


    • October 1, 2015 at 6:18 pm

      Michele! My hero!!!!! Worked perfectly! Thank you!

    • WB
      October 1, 2015 at 9:15 pm

      Thanks, but does not work for me.

    • siute
      October 3, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      I’ve tried, but still same, hang.. hiks hiks

    • Adré Schreuder
      October 5, 2015 at 11:36 am

      Michele you are a real hero!! Thanx

    • GG
      October 5, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      THIS WORKED! For now. Thank you.

    • October 5, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Michelle thanks!! it worked out!!! Low resolutions is the key!

    • John!
      October 5, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      Genius, thank you Michele!

  4. michele_riva@hotmail.com
    October 1, 2015 at 7:47 am

    I have solved the issue without downgrade.

    just run outlook with low resolution.

    go in the info of the outlook application and flag the “open in low resolution”.

    restart outlook and work fine. I don’t know if this will be the final solution but is related to the new metal engine.

    I had similar problem when moved to retina display and with outlook and problem in see font and email.



    • October 1, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      That didn’t work for me either.
      Generally, the advice is not to upgrade to El Capitan until you’re happy that the applications you want to use all work. I upgraded because I can still get to my exchange account via 365; I guess no-one expects such an issue to exist.

    • October 1, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      This solution worked for me. No beach ball for the past 45 minutes. Thank you!

      • October 1, 2015 at 3:18 pm

        Scratch that… after an hour, back to crashing. Restarting didn’t help.

    • clint
      October 1, 2015 at 5:53 pm

      I got all the way to right clicking “more options” but I don’t have the option to flag the “open in low resolution”

      • bork
        October 6, 2015 at 2:54 pm

        I think the flag “open in low resolution” only is shown if you are using a ‘retina’ imac or macbook

  5. John
    October 1, 2015 at 10:35 am

    The low resolution workaround does not appear to work for me, unfortunately

  6. David
    October 1, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Dear APPLE with Six MAC in my one little Family I find this appalling! You have now impacted work and personal business

    • October 1, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      This has nothing to do with Apple. The responsibility relies on the developer of the application, Microsoft, to ensure their product works in El Capitan. They’ve had almost four months to fix this and they haven’t — and they’re one of maybe two major apps out of hundreds of thousands to not be compatible.

  7. pg2010
    October 1, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Have you read Microsoft article?


    Shortly after you start Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011 on Mac OS X El Capitan (version 10.11), Outlook hangs when it tries to sync with the server. The Spinning Wait cursor is displayed, and the application status is displayed as “Not Responding.”

    Note: Outlook for Mac 2011 does not hang when you’re working offline or when no accounts are added. This issue occurs only when Outlook tries to sync an account with the server.

    To work around this issue, run Outlook for Mac 2011 on Mac OS X Yosemite (version 10.10) or an earlier version.

    Happy to know that I need to use Mac OS X Yosemite (version 10.10) or an earlier version or to work offline or with no account configured! It makes sense for a messaging application!! What a great post on MS website!

  8. Robert
    October 1, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Shift key solution did not work. Low resolution option did not work. Does this mean I am at the mercy of Microsoft. Can hardly wait for Outlook 2018…

    • Prakash
      October 1, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      macbook pro retina late 2013 model and shift key solution works. Hold the shift key, start outlook 2011, keep holding shift key, force quite outlook. release shift key, start outlook 2011, and give it 15-20 seconds, everything will be good to go. I just tried and worked for me

  9. Dancnc14
    October 1, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    The Shift option worked for me on El Capitan. Good solution there. Thanks for sharing.

  10. October 1, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Understand that this isn’t just an outlook issue. All MS Office products are hanging in El Capitan.

  11. October 1, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    If you are not on a Retina Mac you have no “low resolution” option and you are screwed. I wonder why Microsoft did not fix this?

  12. Howard
    October 1, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    I wasn’t able to get it working with any of the work arounds above.

  13. Saffri Betta
    October 1, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Just hold down the ‘option/alt’ key and click on the Outlook icon to to open the program. Then go through the process of rebuilding your identity and that should do it. When you open Outlook again, be sure to click on ‘send and receive’ and you should be good to go!

    • John Bull
      October 1, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      This one worked for me when none of the others did. I’m running 14.5.5. on non-Retina 13″ MBAir. Thanks very much

    • Brad
      October 1, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      This doesn’t solve the problem. Identity rebuilt, still freezing.

  14. John
    October 1, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Does anyone find it amazing that the same people who publish Office also created Exchange server and yet, Outlook works on every other form of e-mail system, but not Exchange.

  15. October 1, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    No luck with Office on my Mac Book Air. Have switched to Mac Mail. Found the Microsoft post funny by saying fix is don’t us El Capitan. How long was the Beta out? Come on Redmond what have you been doing?

  16. Nathan
    October 1, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    If I had to guess I’d say MS haven’t fixed this on purpose – Office 2016 is out and they want to try and force people to upgrade (more money for them!) – I’ve got Office 2016, but annoyingly Exchange is 2007, so I’m stuck – can’t upgrade to new version of Outlook cos it doesn’t support Exchange 2007 and Outlook 2011 isn’t working on El Capitan! Good vicious circle there MS – now I remember why everything got moved to Apple….
    None of the work arounds above have worked so I’ve given up and fired up a VM with Yosemite on it and re-installed Outlook 2011 into that – not ideal but it saves flattening any of the Macs and it gets email going again

  17. KMC
    October 1, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    If I click on a different folder (such as Sent Folder) other than the inbox right as the Outlook window opens (you have to be quick), it seems to be fine afterward. Give it a try for a temporary fix.

    • Thom
      October 5, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      This is the only solution that worked for me. Shift Key & Low Res didn’t do anything. Thanks!

    • October 5, 2015 at 10:55 pm

      This worked for me also. Thanks!

  18. Shawn
    October 1, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    I was able to rebuild the database in Outlook and it is now working for me: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2409331

  19. KC
    October 1, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    The only why I was able to use Outlook was to upgrade to Microsoft Outlook for Mac 15.14.2

    • -dc
      October 3, 2015 at 9:27 am

      This works great as long as you have an office365 account. The upgrade to outlook 2016 made for a more functional client. Thanks!

  20. Prakash
    October 1, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Thanks,The first workaround (using shift key), worked. outlook 2011 will hang, but keep holding shift key and force quit it. Restart outlook normally and Bingo!!!!

  21. Marcello Scalfi
    October 1, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    I have MacBook Air and Outlook 2011. I tried holding the shift key and it doesn’t work.

  22. BL
    October 1, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Tried shift workaround, option rebuild identity and nothing works! Any other suggestions?

    • Rob
      October 1, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      Sadly, the only solution that worked for me was upgrading to Office for Mac 2016. No issues there and the new apps do seem to have some other improvements. Sucks I got forced into an upgrade, but I’ll probably be better off in the long run.

  23. Aldo Laiseca
    October 1, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Can anybody please confirm is this issue is only happening when connecting Outlook 2011 to an Exchange server? I use Outlook 2011 as my email client for a couple of IMAP accounts. Am I supposed to be affected by this issue? Thanks in advance

  24. AA
    October 2, 2015 at 12:02 am

    I had the same problem and installed the updates to Outlook 2011 (version 14.5.5) from Microsoft. You can also check under the Help menu for Updates to the software, which includes the fix. Outlook now works fine with El Capitan. I hope this helps!

  25. Ted
    October 2, 2015 at 12:13 am

    anyone have any idea how long it takes Microsoft to fix these kinds of things? Rough estimate? Very frustrating.


  26. James
    October 2, 2015 at 1:14 am

    I have version 14.5.5 and it still freezes!

    • Van
      October 2, 2015 at 6:09 am

      Appears to be tied to syncing with Exchange. As soon as Outlook 2011 for Mac (14.5.5) tries to sync, there’s that damn pinwheel. None of the tricks outlined have worked. At the mercy of the reason I left Windows (Microsoft) for a fix. Not holding my breath.

  27. Bob
    October 2, 2015 at 1:59 am

    these things did not work for me. I have other apps that hang as well.

  28. James
    October 2, 2015 at 2:18 am

    I operating with Mac Air (early 2014), with office 2011 14.5.5 and just did the upgrade to El Capitan late this morning and then my troubles started with Outlook freezing. Tried the Shift method a number of times and that didn’t work, couldn’t locate where to change resolution, seems some of us don’t have the available. So resorted to web mail, which I hate. Then reread the thread and spotted KMC’s suggestion so tried that – it worked for me, no crashes after 2 hours of using Outlook!!! Thanks KMC!
    So as soon as you open outlook if your in sent, change to In and visa versa – all good so far.

    • October 2, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      Yes, KMC’s method works for me too. My routine is to click on a few different folders until the lightning sign (syncing?) next to the inbox goes away, and then wait for another few seconds, and go back to the inbox.

  29. Ravi
    October 2, 2015 at 2:19 am

    I am (was) a heavy Outlook user as a large part of my job involves communicating by email. I was very disappointed when Outlook kept hanging up after I upgraded to El Capitan. Then I realise that have absolutely no need for Outlook. Apple Mail and the built in calendar app are far superior (and attractive) to Outlook. Microsoft have managed to lose yet another customer. They seem very good at this.

    I will still continue to use Word, Excel etc as these seem to work with El Capitan.

  30. James
    October 2, 2015 at 3:03 am

    Update – have since had a few crashes, have to do the same thing every time and gets me back going – not 100% ideal but it works.

  31. October 2, 2015 at 7:58 am

    worked for me… you’re a genius!

  32. October 2, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Then stopped :-((((

  33. October 2, 2015 at 8:20 am

    @james It worked but then after 5 minutes the wheel returned back.. quiet annoying!!!!!

  34. patrick
    October 2, 2015 at 9:08 am

    shift holding trick works perfectly…genius. thank you

  35. Myron L. Cramer
    October 2, 2015 at 9:47 am

    My observation is that the issue is in El capital’s implementation of the Exchange synchronization protocol including mailbox enumeration. The problem also affects Apple Mail, so it does not look like this is a Microsoft issue. I have reported it to Apple on http://apple.com/feedback and at https://getsupport.apple.com

  36. Mark Plones
    October 2, 2015 at 10:11 am

    I have made a screenshit on where the ‘low resoution’ option is.

    • Mike
      October 2, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      Yep, I get that Get Info dialog up and there is no open in lo-res option. Can you show a screenshot of the option on the Get Info dialog?

    • Mike
      October 2, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      The open in low res option only appears if you have a retina display.

      • Mark Plones
        October 6, 2015 at 7:17 am

        Ah yes indeed I have a retina Display.

        But using this workaround only helped me for 2 Hours… ;’)

  37. Mark Plones
    October 2, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Screenshot ;”)

  38. Giles Hudson
    October 2, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you . . .

    Ticking “Run outlook with low resolution” box in Info of Outlook worked for me.
    I was just about to uninstall El Capitan

  39. jeaime
    October 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    I tried the “shift” technique, the “open in low resolution” technique, the “switch to a different folder other than inbox” technique and variations of the three all with no success.

  40. October 2, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    Ive been getting the pinwheel freeze within a couple minutes from openning, but i tried something and i havent had a crash for the past hour. Im doing my usual routing to see if crashes or freezes again, but so far the answer is no (for outlook). So here is hopefully the solution. Right click on app and click on get info. Check of Prevent nap app. and your boysenberry apple scones smell about done. … I like to bake

  41. Matt Hruska
    October 2, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Best thing I did was go back to OS X 10.5 … Took a few hours to revert to the old OS via Time Machine, but well worth it.

  42. October 2, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I have tried most things to get outlook working but as ‘Anthony Felix’ says – selecting APP NAP when you ‘Get Info’ for outlook (see the screen shot above) is now working. Don’t know how long for or what App nap does – but seems to work and is the short term alternative to reinstalling Yosemite.

  43. October 2, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Spoke too soon. Pulled missing email down – left machine and returning to spinning beach ball.

  44. ian b
    October 2, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    i give up,going back to Yosemite,non of my office 2011 works ,tried everything and you win i loose but at least i can use all my programs

  45. lando
    October 2, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    When right clicking on the Outlook app, selecting “Get Info”, then checking “Prevent App Nap”, and starting outlook, worked for me.

    I tried the other above suggestions:
    – Hold shift while starting and quitting app – didn’t work
    – there is no “open in low res” option in my outlook get info (non-retina mac)
    – Rebuild identity didn’t help

    I have a late 2011 MBP non-retina device, with Outlook 2011 14.5.5.

    It’s be 30 mins since it’s been working. We’ll see.

    • lando
      October 2, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      Like DrSpenny, the “fix” that worked for me only lasted an hour. Back to the beautiful spinning wheel.

  46. October 2, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Try everything, nothing works!

  47. Test
    October 2, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    The shift key worked for me, but I had to get offline first, so Outlook wouldn’t try to sync the emails. Then after I restarted Outlook and connected to the internet, emails started to come in again. Thx.

    • lando
      October 2, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      Going offline was the key. I didn’t do that on my first attempts and i tried to beet the spinning wheel of death, but wasn’t able to quit via the menu’s. Instead i was doing the quick keys SHIFT + CMD + Q, but that logged me off. i thought that was doing the same thing, but clearly not. Now that i went offline, and held shift the whole time on launch and while using the file menu and quit, i’m now receiving email and spinny wheel. Let’s see how long this lasts. Thanks Test.

  48. Rkiran
    October 2, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Nothing Works for me, I tried everything in the thread for work around. Hope i think need to wait for the Perfect fix. Hopefully they fix it immediately.

  49. October 2, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Stop wasting your time and energy. MS won’t fix this for a month or so. Start up Mail with the Exchange server and get your calendars and contract over to Apple. Takes 1/2 hour and it works!

  50. J Wocky
    October 3, 2015 at 4:39 am

    After trying “select low res” option – no go, the “select Sent folder on start up” – no go, “Work offline” – no go.

    Solution that worked for me for Outlook 2011 with Exchange serve X to El Capitan:

    0. Quit ALL Office programs
    1. From Finder, navigate to Macintosh HD – Library – Preferences
    2. Create a new folder, say, “microsoft prefs”
    3. Select ALL the com.microsoft.*.plist files and drag/move to the folder from Step 2
    4. Open Outlook – you will be prompted to agree to license terms and asked for the product key. Enter a partial product key and press enter/return. Exit the nag message that the product key should be 25 characters long, then Force Quit (Command – Option – Escape) the Outlook product key verification program
    5. From Finder, move the com.microsoft.*.plist files from the folder created in Step 2 back to Library – Preferences
    6. Restart Outlook and be patient – you are likely to see the the beachball BUT Outlook will sync with the server

    Normal service resumed! Hope it works for all of you!

    • spamspam
      October 3, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      This did the job for me!!! great thanks!

    • DC
      October 3, 2015 at 8:27 pm

      I can’t get the nag message. It doesn’t go anywhere w/hen I hit return/enter

    • matt
      October 4, 2015 at 4:05 am

      I found only two com.microsoft.*.plist files. I dragged them to the new folder, but they weren’t moved out of original folder…just seemed to make copies of them. I then opened Outlook and was not prompted to agree to terms. It just opened as normal and gave me the spinning wheel again.

      • J Wocky
        October 5, 2015 at 2:36 am

        From two hours before my original post above to now – not a single Force Quit has been necessary.

        matt – create the folder under Preferences and move the com.microsoft.*.plist files files to the folder. Try holding down the Command button while dragging the plist files to the new folder.

        DC – Did you Command Q and exit all active Office apps? I looked up the Product Key for Office 2011 by opening Excel. It was only 20 characters long and missing the last 5 characters – I entered it anyway at Step 4. If no nag, Force Quit what should be the only Outlook window.

        matt and DC – Post back.

    • October 7, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      This worked for me, but didn’t work for my co-worker. Not sure what gives.

  51. vdz
    October 3, 2015 at 5:27 am

    I have also tried everything in the thread to no avail. Beach Ball of Death!!

  52. claw
    October 3, 2015 at 8:51 am

    The Shift solution worked well. Thanks!

  53. claw
    October 3, 2015 at 8:54 am

    No, it worked only until I closed outlook. Now it’s back to the beach ball

  54. julius
    October 3, 2015 at 10:31 am

    holy #$%% how did u figure this out ,,,really works. but still hope microsoft or Apple is doing effort to fix this…

    • julius
      October 3, 2015 at 10:33 am

      My comment refer to hold shift from outlook opening ’till the sync completed. then close and re-open again..really works. thanks for the workaround discovery

  55. October 3, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    None of the above works! Julius, is your’s still working?!

    • julius
      October 5, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      Hi Bro,,,Now becoming inconsistent sometime works sometimes not especially when syncing huge numbers of mail😦

  56. Elaine Rhodes
    October 3, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I stumbled upon this “fix” which seems to have the same effect. I was looking for a way to recover my Notes (which cannot be recovered in Office 365) and I found my to ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office
    2011 Identities/Main Identity/Data Records, where the notes are kept, but unfortunately it is a binary file format. I tried opening one of the Notes files with “Open in Outlook” and voila!, Outlook opened and it seems to be running well, and I can even quit Outlook
    and start it again. However, there is one problem, if I try to switch to Outlook by clicking the icon in my dock, Outlook hangs; I need to Force Quit it and open it again. But switching to it by command-Tabbing work fine.

    • Elaine Rhodes
      October 3, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      … the “Prevent App Nap” fix mentioned above seems to have fixed my problem with clicking the icon in the dock.

  57. October 3, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Elaine, that didn’t work. I don’t think any of the solutions presented here are really working stabling Outlook!

  58. DC
    October 3, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Thank you so much. I have been losing my mind over the past 48 hours. It’s been a nightmare for me. I wish there was something I could do to repay the favor. BTW my first time ever replying to one of these threads as well.

  59. October 3, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Hey DC what worked for you?

  60. Ernest
    October 3, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Shift worked, thank you. Took several repeats to get all to load, but working now. Now Outlook is working. For now, anyway, wasted 2.0 hrs. Appreciate the solution.

    • October 3, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      What you mean “all to load”?

  61. October 4, 2015 at 12:41 am

    I contacted Apple and they offered no help. I still cannot get anything done if it is set to online. I did, through my college upgrade to 2016. I am download that now while backing up. I did not want to spend the cash but I knew eventually I would be buying it. I shall see if this works.

  62. October 4, 2015 at 3:52 am

    Hi, I upgraded to 10.11 and Outlook 2011 got the spinning rainbow wheel. None of the workarounds worked. I already had windows 7 running in VM (Desktop parallels). ..continued…

  63. October 4, 2015 at 3:54 am

    Since outlook 2016 for Mac was already crashing in El captain 10.11, so I purchased Outlook 2016 for windows and ran in the windows 7 VM, bingo this solved the outlook problem innovatively🙂 but my 7 year email data was still in frozen Outlook 2011 for Mac still getting the rainbow spinning wheel.

  64. October 4, 2015 at 4:00 am

    I tried to export the Outlook 2011 data into .olm so that can find a 3rd party .olm to .pst convertor but unfortunately Outlook 2011 got frozen there so I had to find another way…bingo…found a way…drag and drop any folder in Outlook 2011 to Mac desktop and it gets exported into an .mbox file….bigger folders take more time….then I purchased a 3rd party .mbox to .pst convertor with two week licence for 40 dollars and now on the path of conversion. Already converted 3 or 4 main outlook folders. Outlook 2011 was amazing in indexing and keyboard shortcuts but was horrible in OLE, in-thread tables and various other things. I am done with Outlook 2011 but want to export rest of the data into .mbox and then convert to .pst and then import into Outlook 2016 in a VM windows 7 running on Macbook….phewwwww.

  65. SamIAm
    October 4, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    I FOUND A FIX! Use Mac Mail. it works perfectly. I’m dead in the water and i am tired of waiting for Microsoft to fix something that has been known since the early beta’s. BTW office 2016 also crashes. If you don’t know your MS Exchange account info, you can get Outlook to run without crashing by disconnecting your computer from the Internet. (Turn off WiFi or unplug the internet cable) Once Outlook is up you can get your account info from Tools/Accounts.

  66. October 4, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    I really can’t understand the obsession with Outlook. I use it too and have for about 20 years even after switching to Mac from PC. The Mac has improved my throughput immensely. There is nothing magical about Outlook except perhaps for meetings. Simply set up your Mac Mail account with the same parameters as you PC Exchange account. Voila! All your email and folders populate in a few minutes. So do your contacts and calendars. And for those who haven’t synched the Exchange account with a calendar app like Week Calendar on an iPhone, you get that too. Right in the Mac Calendar app.

    For those of you who have a archive PST that you use, you should have dragged the folders in that to the Exchange account a long time ago. Until then, you can occasionally peek at the folders when Outlook decides to remain up for 5 minutes or so (not very often tho’).

    At the very least, it’s a good temporary solution until pokey MS gets to fixing the Exchange server software or 2011, whichever.

  67. October 4, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    To reply to Smooth…I use outlook because majority use it and with most companies running exchange trying to use anything else is a lot of work.

    As a side note to everyone I upgraded to Mac Office 2016 and after 24 hours it seems to be holding its own.

    • October 4, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Not sure I understand your comment. It’s true that in a PC centric company, some IT professionals don’t want to support another platform like the Mac, but you are already using one.

      The change to Mac Mail from Outlook consists of entering the exact same information in your Exchange server setup that you used in your Outlook configuration. Then, just syncing (switching on) contacts and calendar. I am missing what the hard part is….

  68. Kim
    October 4, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Pressing the space bar whilst starting Outlook worked. It took 3 or 4 tries. I exited Outlook by holding space bar and at the same time fn , command, Q. Before trying the last time I exited all programs and restarted the computer.

  69. Pietro
    October 4, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    I’m using Exchange and IMAP accounts at the same time – several accounts and want them in one email system. Thanks to this issue I’m trilled to migrate to Mac Mail but this spinning wheel is coming back too often. I was trying silly drag and drop folders one by one moving them from outlook 2011 to my desktop BUT Mac mail is CRASHING while I’m trying to import them. My dream now is to get all my emails to get out from outlook and get them work on Mac Mail.
    I would love to use Postbox since this one actually can import easily box files created by outlook BUT Postbox doesn’t support Exchange:-( Mac Mail looks like the only solution for me.
    Any alternative to Mac Mail that you can recommend?

  70. October 4, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Here’s a fix that worked for me when all the others did not: Turn off your internet connection (typically just wifi). Then start outlook. It will not crash. Then after waiting a minute, start your internet connection again. Outlook will then sync.

  71. vadnart
    October 4, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    well, I hope this helps someone….I repeatedly tried all the above suggestions without success until I did the following sequence.

    1. Restart Macbook
    2. Unselected the low res + app nap (mine was selected from the previous attempts)
    3. hold Shift , start outlook. WiFi was on so Outlook will attempt to connect and synch
    4. keep holding shift, quickly click between different folders 4-5 times. for example, Inbox –> Drafts–>Sent–>Deleted…do this quickly before synch completes otherwise you’ll get spinning beach ball.
    5. keep holding shift, quit outlook (from the menu bar)
    6. restart mackbook
    7. Select low res option in Outlook app
    8. start outlook as normal

    not really sure why this actually worked but it did , have been up and running for past hour. hopefully will suffice until get real fix from Apple / MS.

  72. Babalouie
    October 5, 2015 at 12:26 am

    this one works vadnart! thanks man – was about to spend on an upgrade, or shit to mac mail or leave job😉

  73. Pietro
    October 5, 2015 at 7:10 am

    Thanks vadnart! Outlook works fair enough time without spinning wheel that I was able to export all my mails to OLM file. Now once all my emails are outside outlook I’m free to use any other client but no outlook. I’m outlook free!

  74. ln pou
    October 5, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Outlook freeze also with imap.

    You start oulook, it gets the emails, you can use it.
    You do something else, it is hang up, you have the nice wait wheel.
    It never comes back.
    You can stop force it to stop on right click in the app bar.
    You restart it, it gets the emails and same same.

    I get the best way to use it is to stop it each time you have used it and restart it, each time you want your emails.

    About going to the apple mail app… it seems to do even less than outlook, but I guess one can program it.

    And there is no way that all my emails can stay on the imap server… and no use too to have those years of archive on imap.

  75. October 5, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Reblogged this on saihaynes.

  76. Sonya
    October 5, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    YES!! This worked for me as well! Hold down the SHIFT key while opening Outlook and while closing it. Then re-open as normal. Thank you, thank you, thank you

  77. Brad
    October 5, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Update. I tried everything on my macbook pro retina mid-2014. I rebuilt my identity, did the shift-key trick (which sort of worked once or twice), set it to “low resolution” etc. None of these tricks worked on my personal mac. On my work Mac, I am resorting to a time machine restore of 10.5.5. Sorry, El Capitan, but 10.11 won’t be installed until an MS patch is issued for both 2011 and 2016. I even purchased an Office for Mac Home and Business 2016 for home but won’t install until that is fixed as well (or return as keycard not activated). This is ridiculous. Both MS and Apple have been aware of this issue since the beta…long before the gold master was issued. The crashes (Office 2016) and “spinning beach ball of death” (Outlook 2011/2016) were known well before the update was made available, but nothing was done about compatibility. I am stuck with Exchange Server for work, so it is the Outlook.com interface for now or nothing. Good thing my work machine will be restored in another 3 hours from Time Machine. Home/personal laptop? Not so good…

    • Brad
      October 5, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Error…restoring 10.10.5 not 10.5.5

      • Brad
        October 5, 2015 at 1:20 pm

        Turning off “App Nap” didn’t help either or switching to offline then online, especially on the work machine. Nothing but freezes every time (2010 MBPro)

  78. Paolo Vivona
    October 5, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Thank you for the suggestion. The SHIFT key worked fine for me!!!!

    However, now I have Power Point that has the same problem and apparently the SHIFT key does not work. Any suggestion?

  79. Jules
    October 5, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Low Res worked for me as well – thankfully. Running Mid 2012 MacBook Pro (Retina). I would advise other NOT to upgrade to El Capitan until Microsoft and/or Apple sort this issue out.

    • Jules
      October 5, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      It worked for 2 hours then I got the spinning wheel – Frustrating…..

  80. Matt
    October 5, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    I found a workaround online… The successful action for me was:

    • Open Outlook and immediately go offline (top left – menu bar – select outlook and scroll down to Work Offline).
    • I kept it offline for about 10 minutes while I checked the account info and other preferences were okay (in particular, made sure Sync Services had nothing ticked, and it did not, so that wasn’t the problem).
    • Then I went back to Online.

    And it worked – all my mails started coming in. It’s still working or last couple hours and no spinning wheel at all.

    • October 5, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks for the tips Matt. I have tried every other suggestion in this lengthy thread without success. Your tips worked for about 10 minutes, but at least they worked!

  81. SgtBaxter
    October 5, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    This worked for me – go into account settings and delete your password.

    A dialog will pop up asking for your password when it tries to sync – enter the password then it’s worked fine for me since.

  82. Dan
    October 5, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    For those the shift+open app does not work.

    I had the same issue, then I tried with keeping the right shift pressed and then Apple menu/Force Quit Outlook while keep holding the shift key.
    After that it works for me.

  83. October 5, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    not just from exchange… any Outlook 2011 install will freeze. How about Outlook 2016. I didn’t upgrade because of the diminished functionality.

  84. ES
    October 5, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    The following suggestion is what worked for me…clicking on several different folders before sync finished. Then, went back to Inbox. Must have something to do with the sync. None of the other suggestions worked for me (i.e. shift button, space bar, low res, App Nap, etc).

    • ES
      October 6, 2015 at 12:12 am

      Update – this didn’t hold up for long. My colleague’s solution was to remove his antivirus, reboot, repair, etc. It’s held up well for five days now.

  85. Don
    October 6, 2015 at 12:01 am

    Mon Oct 5th – The SHIFT workaround fixed both my imac and Macbook pro! Thanks for the research on that! GO HAWKS!!

  86. ES
    October 6, 2015 at 12:12 am

    Update – this didn’t hold up for long. My colleague’s solution was to remove his antivirus, reboot, repair, etc. It’s held up well for five days now.

  87. Hugo
    October 6, 2015 at 4:16 am

    All those thing doesn’t works in Mac Pro (old), I fixed:
    1. Click in Outlook to open.
    2. when is starting put in “work offline”
    3. go to outlook preference and reset the server, change from https://XXXXX.XXX.com/EWS/Exchange.asmx to XXXX.XXX.com
    4. turn off “work online” and this it.

    • October 6, 2015 at 1:21 pm


      Thanks for the tip. It worked for about 10 minutes and then the Beachball of Death returned.

  88. Mikkel Johansen
    October 6, 2015 at 10:51 am

    None of the other fixes worked for me, but I accidentally got Outlook up and running by calling it from the ‘mail’ button in Word’s ‘Review’ panel.

    • October 6, 2015 at 1:24 pm


      Thanks for the tip, but the Beachball of Death returned immediately after Outlook opened (when using the “Mail” button in Microsoft Word) and displayed a email message in the preview pane.

  89. October 6, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    This worked for me. Outlook 2011. OS X El Capitan 10.11
    – Open Outlook not connected to internet
    – Go to Outlook/Preferences/Accounts/Advanced
    – Uncheck “Log in with my Exchange account Credentials”
    – Check “Use SSL to connect”

    I have a webmail server added in Microsoft Exchange https://XXXX.XXX.se/ews/exchange.asmx

    Works fine for me with this so far.

  90. charmore
    October 6, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    If the icon you’re opening is a gold O, then you’re not using Outlook 2011. It’s BLUE. I made this mistake. Outlook 11 is a side-by-side install. Outlook 10 remains installed. And it’s borked. Do the low res option to save memory and cycles, and then open the BLUE icon.

    • diesel
      October 6, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      I think you might be incorrect about the 2011 O being blue. Mine is gold and i bought 11 and downloaded on a brand new I Mac and it is gold and everything about it says 2011. I cannot find a blue O in my 2011 office application. I think you might have it just backwards because even the people on here that are using 2016 are having the same problem as 2011 Outlook

  91. Mark Plones
    October 7, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    It looks like rebuilding the database is my solution.
    Low resolution mode and holding shift only worked for a short period.

    • October 7, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      Mark, the first thing I tried was rebuilding the (identity) database. The problem persists. Let us know if it fixes the issue for you. Thanks

  92. rajiv saxena
    October 7, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    hi, I updated MacBook air to el capitan recently from Yosemite . but after update, wifi is not connecting. but when I bring wifi router at kissing distance to MacBook, wifi is connected. I tried with hotspot on mobile to connect MacBook, but same case. this is strange. what to do??? wifi on windows version on MacBook is working as before. but not on mac os.

  93. October 7, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    14.5.6 update appears to resolve the issue.

  94. KMC
    October 7, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Updated to 14.5.6 and seems to work now.

    • October 8, 2015 at 12:50 am

      Upgrading to Microsoft Office 2011 v14.5.6 appears to working for me as well. Thanks for the tip Lew!

  95. BL
    October 8, 2015 at 1:31 am

    Yes. Office 14.5.6 update fix the problem. Although I had to empty the cache to get new emails to update in my inbox.

  96. October 8, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Its working! I’m going to miss you guys – think I have got Stockholm syndrome being camped out here all week waiting for the release! Now if you’ll excuse me – I have a lot of emails to answer!

  97. Hardew
    October 8, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Microsoft has released some updated. After installing that update today i am not facing this issue.

  98. leo
    October 8, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    It seems the update fixed beachball but my emails still won’t sync. Anything else do i need to do to get the update working?

  99. powervu
    October 8, 2015 at 4:19 pm
  100. steveng
    October 8, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Microsoft has released the Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 14.5.6 update (Oct. 7) which appears to address this issue: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3098229

  101. Bud
    October 9, 2015 at 2:29 am

    Outlook crashes for me after 14.5.6 update. Delete Main Identity folder and can open, but instant crash after re-setup of Exchange server.

  102. Jose
    October 12, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    i’m having problems also. Inbox: Updating server hangs without reporting any issue. i have updated to 14.5.6 and switched LoRes Mode and outlook works pretty bad.

  103. October 17, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Intalling 14.5.6 update does not solve the problem for me. I can get Office for Mac to work with an exchange server from time to time. But most of the time, I still get the spinning wheel hang. Restarting the macbook has worked from time to time.

  104. October 21, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    For me 14.5.6 update fix the problem https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3098229

  105. Micky B
    October 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Had the hang up problem with 2011 none of home made fixes worked. Spotted Microsoft update 2011. 14.5.6 works fine no problems anymore.

  106. October 24, 2015 at 12:23 am

    My mac has been showing the spinning beach ball more since I updated to el capitan; not usually for more than 1 second. I don’t know if it’s that or the fact that my computer just had a RAM upgrade after my 8gb one was hitting the crapper. Also been using it less than usual…

  107. asd
    November 3, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    It worked perfect. I saved the general manager outlook! TankX a lot!

  108. November 3, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    For me, none of the above tricks worked. I had to reboot my Macbook overtime in order to access the Exchange e-mail server.
    A few days ago, Apple released El Capitan OSX10.11.1 and Microsoft released Office for Mac version 14.5.7 almost simultaneously. Since that, the flywheel problem disappeared completely for me. I strongly recommend for anyone who is still plagued by this issue to do both updates.

  109. November 4, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks so much. I’m back in business.

  110. ZK
    November 10, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Installed the office update using the link above and I am back in business! No more pinwheel of death!!

    • November 13, 2015 at 8:45 am

      Hello everybody,
      I’m french, so be kind with my english🙂..
      I try a lot of thing to succeed resolving this problem..
      I installed the office update using the link above (but in french version), but i didn’t work .
      So i came here, and i read your posts.
      I did the same thing of Michele, so i came on Applications. Right click on Outlook icon, but on my laptop, i flag ‘Empêcher App Nap” in French.. And, it seems working🙂
      Thanks to every body ..
      Have a good day

  111. Edgr
    December 1, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Srikat provided the simplest solution that really work for me. Thank you very much.

  112. December 6, 2015 at 8:11 am

    It works phew …. After long now I can use my outlook . Thanks Srikanth.

  113. Zwars
    March 22, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Great job! Thanks for sharing. Works fine😀

  114. Kim
    April 27, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! You saved my life!🙂

  115. Steph
    May 4, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    This patch worked great for me! Thanks for the advice!

  116. October 13, 2016 at 7:55 am

    now the same problem is back with Sierra and the same fix appears to work

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