What Should You Do If Excel, Outlook or Word Frozen on Mac?

microsoft frozen on mac

Microsoft Office applications are popular among both Windows PC and Mac owners. However, this fact doesn’t make them less troublesome in use. Mac users have reported that Word, Excel, and Outlook applications started freezing or crashing. After the recent macOS High Sierra upgrade in September 2017, Microsoft claimed no issues had been registered. If you do experience Word freeze-ups on the earlier OS X versions, read on to learn how to fix them.


Word Keeps Crashing on Mac

Experiencing a Word freeze-up in the middle of working on something important is very stressful. Let’s say, you are writing your term paper seeking an answer to the question that would make the life of millions of people around the entire globe much easier and more comfortable (for example, Do Woodpeckers Get Headaches?). And in the middle of the process, when your thoughts smoothly flow from your head into the text editor; when no slightest paper help is needed from anybody; when the inspiration is overflowing; when you feel on the verge of the greatest finding in the history of humanity – dear Lord! Word just crashes or freezes. If you’ve never suffered such a tragedy, you must be the luckiest person on Earth and should definitely play lottery right about now. Otherwise, scan the text below to find out how to straighten things out and minimize the damage from such a misfortune.

To partly recover the document you have been working on, try printing out the screen. After that, try force-quitting the application by using the Command-Option-Esc shortcut. When the Force Quit window appears, select the app you want to abort and press Force Quit.

If an app crashes or closes unexpectedly, the files you have been working on, are lost in most cases. However, Word saves the file edits automatically, so it can help you recover the information after restarting the program. In case, Word doesn’t request file recovery permission from you, most likely it failed to save the edits, and there’s nothing to restore. If you use Time Machine backups and the default backup frequency is one hour, chances of file recovery are quite high.

Adopt a habit of saving the documents as often as possible to prevent unexpected data loss. Also, check if the autosave options are set in Word’s preferences to make sure at least a part of your file is recoverable. By default, the auto recovery is set to save a file every 10 minutes. So, in the event of unexpected quitting, Word should have saved the document version created ten minutes before that.

There is one more way of finding the file if the Word app has crashed: go to the Finder to check if the file locates in the Documents folder. To access the Microsoft Word auto recovery files on Mac OS X, go to your user profile -> Documents -> Microsoft User Data.

Microsoft error

Excel Keeps Crashing on Mac

If you’re using Excel on Mac, you might experience a situation when an app crashes or becomes unresponsive. The solutions listed below are suitable for Excel 2016 on Mac:

Excel Keeps Crashing Mac

Force-quit Excel

Go to the Apple menu -> click Force-Quit. Alternatively, use Command-Option-Esc shortcut. In the Force Quit Applications window, choose the troublesome applications -> click the Force-Quit button

Delete Microsoft Office settings and Excel preferences from your Mac

Check if you closed all Microsoft Office for Mac applications. Launch the Go to… menu -> go to the Library folder. Note: Library is a hidden Mac OS X folder. To display it, press down the Option key while clicking the Go menu.

Access the Group Containers folder -> search for the folder with a name ending in “.Office.” Next, search for the Excel preferences file called com.microsoft.officeprefs.plist and delete it. After that, relaunch the application to see if the problem is solved.

If the problem persists, remove the whole “.Office” folder to remove all prior settings and preferences set for all office apps. Using this method, you will completely reset Office and re-create a folder in the ~/Library/Group Containers.

Safe Boot the Excel App

To boot in safe mode, start/restart your Mac pressing down the Shift key and wait until the Apple logo appears. Once your computer boots up, launch Excel to see if the problem persists. To exit safe mode, restart your Mac as usual.

Reinstall Microsoft Office

Try removing and then installing Microsoft Office from zero. Follow the link to learn how to install and uninstall Office 2016 for Mac.

Repair Disk Permissions

This option will work for earlier Mac OS X versions. Go to Applications -> Utilities -> launch Disk Utility. Select the primary hard disk, click the First Aid tab -> click Repair Disk Permissions

Note: The Disk Utility app repairs Apple-installed software located in the Applications folder only.

Microsoft Outlook Keeps Crashing on Mac

  • Restrict the Mailbox Size, Folder, and Item Count

The recommended folder count:

~500 folders for each identity.

~100 folders each in calendar, contacts, tasks, and notes.

The recommended item count:

20,000 items max in the Inbox and Sent Items folders (including folders/subfolders).

~5000 items each in calendar, contacts, tasks, and notes folders.

Outlook Crashing Mac
  • Force-quit Outlook

Go to the Apple menu -> click Force-Quit, or use Command-Option-Esc shortcut. Select Outlook from the Force Quit Applications window and click Force-Quit.

  • Outlook Identity Verification

To verify the Outlook identity, go to the Office Identities folder. Relocate the folder to the desktop or another folder to automatically create a new database.

  1. Quit all active apps, then go to the Home folder -> Documents -> open Microsoft User Data.
  2. Drag the Office Identities folder to the Desktop.
  3. Launch the Outlook app.
  4. If this resolves the freezing/crashing issue, you need to troubleshoot the Outlook database.
  • Delete Outlook preferences

Sometimes the crashing problem may stem from damaged Outlook preference files. Similar to the above method, you need to move the preference files to the desktop:

Quit all active apps, then go to the Home folder -> Library.

Note: Library is a hidden folder, press down the Option key while clicking the Go menu.

Access Preferences, and then re-locate the below files to the desktop or another folder:

  • microsoft.Outlook.plist
  • microsoft.outlook.database_daemon.plist
  • microsoft.outlook.database_utility.plist
  • microsoft.outlook.office_reminders.plist
  • microsoft.Outlook.SyncServicesPreferences.plist

If the problem stopped, one of the files is causing it. Try dragging the files back to the Preferences folder one by one and launch Outlook to isolate the problematic file. Once you’ve found the culprit, drag it into the Trash.

If the problem persists, go to Preferences -> Microsoft -> Office 2011. Relocate the Outlook Preferences and OfficeSync Prefs files to the Desktop. Launch Outlook to check if the problem occurs. Repeat the above manipulations and check the files one by one.

Note: if a specific file is missing, proceed to the next one. Most likely, the feature hasn’t been used yet.

Bottom Line

To prevent freezing and crashing of Microsoft Office apps on your Mac, upgrade to macOS 10.13 High Sierra and update Office to version 15.38 or later. If you are using earlier MS Office and Mac OS X versions, you may experience Word, Excel, an Outlook freeze-ups, and crashes. Use the following troubleshooting techniques to solve the above issues: force-quit the applications, remove preference files, restart in safe boot mode.

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