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Random Musings on Exchange and Virtualization

Outlook 2013 Distorted Display Issues

Outlook 2013 Distorted Display Issues

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After a recent video driver update, my corporate Outlook client started to do some strange things.  Within Office 2013, the screen output would be distorted.  Menu bars were not painted properly until I mouse-over them again, or moved Office programs around.  Other times the display would look corrupted and the navigation tree would not be properly rendered.


Update 16-7-2014:  Adding link to Office 2013 known issues.  This discusses implications of disabling the hardware acceleration and some issues with certain drivers. 

Update 5-11-2014: Adding link to Windows 10 Preview display issue

Update 1-6-2015: Corrected typo in reg.ext command to set the registry key to disable hardware acceleration


I would see issues like this in Outlook -- note that the left hand navigation tree is unreadable in places


Outlook 2013 - Folder Navigation Tree Ist Kaputt !

Then when composing/reading an email, the ribbon would be corrupted and/or distorted:

Outlook 2013 - Ribbon Is Corrupt


The underlying issue is discussed in KB 2768648 - Performance and display issues in Office 2013 client applications.

While the underlying issue is with the video card driver, there is a workaround until the video driver is updated.

On an  individual machine, the user can open up the Outlook advanced properties and select the option to “Disable hardware graphics acceleration”

Outlook 2013 Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration Using GUI

Doing so immediately fixed up my errant display issues.  I’ll update this post when I see a video card release that resolves the issue.

There are some alternative methods of implementing this via the registry and GPO.


Controlling Via Registry

We can also set a registry key to disable the feature:

REG_DWORD  DisableHardwareAcceleration     Value:  0x1


Working With Cmd Prompt

To query this via cmd prompt:

REG.exe Query HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Common\Graphics /V DisableHardwareAcceleration

To set this via cmd prompt:

REG.exe Add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Common\Graphics /T REG_DWORD /V DisableHardwareAcceleration /D 0x1  /F

(Note that the above is one line that may wrap)


Working With PowerShell

We can retrieve the current configuration using the first command, whilst the second sets the value:

Get-ItemProperty -Path HKCU:\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Common\Graphics  -Name DisableHardwareAcceleration | Select-Object  DisableHardwareAcceleration  | FT –AutoSize


New-ItemProperty -Path HKCU:\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Common\Graphics  -Name DisableHardwareAcceleration  -PropertyType DWORD -Value "0x1" –Force

(Note that the above are all one line that may wrap)


Group Policy

In the Office 2013 Administrative Template files there is an option to disable hardware acceleration.  To do this:


  1. Add the Office15.admx and Office15.adml files to your GPO
  2. Then, In the Group Policy Editor, select the Miscellaneous node of the Microsoft Office 2013 tree.  Then edit the “Do not use hardware graphics acceleration” element. 


Office 2013 Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration VUsing GPO




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  • Thank you Mr. Milne.

  • Thanks a lot Mr. Milne.

  • Good information, Also the screen shots are also appreciated as I feel it reinforces the steps.

  • Nicely written blog. Thanks for sharing your findings.

  • OMG thank you - it was making me insane. I don't understand how this could happen on my brand spanking new Precision M3800? It is LOADED with memory and graphics power?

  • Whenever I open Outlook 2013 (even if I just minimize the window, and then open it again), parts of the window are missing (are transparent, showing content from window below). Disabling or enabling HW acceleration has NO effect whatsoever. Using Dell E6420 with Intel HD3000 with latest drivers (4/10/2014), so I just have to keep moving the Outlook window after opening the window to get everything visible. Extremely annoying.

  • Great post. Thank you.

  • thanks for sharing.

  • @God76 - It's the same thing on my thinkpad. It has more GPU power than it took to put man on the moon....

    Jussi - if disabling the acceleration is not helping for you, then a couple more things please. Make sure Outlook & Office are both fully patched up. If this still continues, please log a support case as the Outlook team would like to know more about this. In most cases disabling the hardware acceleration is a sufficient workaround.


  • I have the same issue on my 2013 Dell XPS 15. Thanks for the fix.

  • This worked for me. Thanks1

  • This issue it's been driving me crazy until now. In my case, I had this issue working with Outlook and Word 2013 on my work pc Lenovo G500.
    Thank you man for this great help!


  • I had this happen on occasion. Just did an OEM update this morning and Outlook basically became unusable, it was like a bad virus was moving blocks of the screen around within every Outlook window at random. Turned off "Graphics Acceleration" and am back in business. Thanks!!!!!

  • I have the same reaction as God67 and Roderick - also a ThinkPad T440S fully loaded... I will disable the accelerator, though wonder what I may lose as a result. But right now I'm wasting a lot of time sorting out screen scrambling....



  • Thanks for sharing. You made my day, as I finally got rid of this messy display.

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