Issues with Mavericks and Office for Mac – How to troubleshoot

Office for Mac 2008 and 2011 are both compatible with OS X 10.9.0 Mavericks. Some users have no issues while others are having minor issues and a few users are having major issues. If you have not upgraded, I suggest you wait until 10.9.1 or 10.9.2 is released.

Be sure to backup first and read Apple Discussions for all the latest news. Mavericks has had serious issues with hardware especially Western Digital drives. Some printers have not upgraded their drivers. Be sure to fully explore that your hardware and apps are compatible before making the plunge. RoaringApps provides a table showing compatibility with the different versions of OS X and iOS.

Sync Services is no longer supported on Mavericks. Syncing with an iPhone via iTunes is not supported on Mavericks. See What are my options to sync below.

Non-English versions of Office for Mac 2011 are having issues with Mavericks. Until Microsoft issues updates, some users have found this fix to work. [Added Nov 20, 2013 – Update 14.3.9 issued a fix for Polish Word]

The Microsoft Error Reporting Tool (MERP) and Mavericks is not playing nice. Disable if you see crashes involving MERP. Open MERP then select to deactivate in Preferences.

Library/Application Support/Microsoft/MERP2.0


Office for Mac 2008

Office 2008 has some minor quirks like opening a new compose window when you launch Entourage. In fact, all the Office 2008 applications open with a new window. I don’t consider this a show stopper but a minor inconvenience. Since Office 2008 is End of Life software there will be no fixes.

See this article for a workaround. Office 2008 apps open with new window after upgrading to Mavericks

Office for Mac 2011

Most of the issues reported with Office 2011 have had more to do with the Mavericks upgrade process than incompatibilities with Office 2011. Mavericks has not been a smooth upgrade for all users. Even Apple Mail has had serious issues. If you upgraded over Snow Leopard you would most likely experience more issues than upgrading over Mountain Lion or doing a clean install.

Identify the source of your problem…

If you are having any issues with Office for Mac after upgrading to Mavericks:

  • Test in a new User
  • Download and run EtreCheck
  • Verify your Fonts
  • Check for Identity issues by testing in a new Identity
  • Check permissions
  • Run Keychain First Aid in Applications/Utilities

Testing in a new User will quickly tell you if the problem is system wide or if it’s your User’s folder that contains the problem.


Go to System Preferences –> Create a New User in Accounts. Switch to the New User by logging out/in or use Fast User Switching.

Open your Office applications. Icons won’t be in the Dock in the new User. Go to Applications to open.

Do you still see the issue?

  • If yes, then the problem is with your base files.
  • If no, then the problem is in your User’s folder.

Options to Repair

Testing Files in new User

Move your Office data to the Shared folder for testing in the new User. (Don’t forget to move back after testing)

Your Hard Drive/Users/Shared

When you “Switch Users”, you can access the data in the Shared folder.

After you log into the new test User, drag from Shared (it actually copies). Make sure you have free space on your drive. This will duplicate the data.

If you are testing your Outlook Identity, any POP mail you download into the Identity in the test User will not be available unless you set to “leave on server” in Account > Advanced settings/Server.

Log out of the new test User when testing is complete. You can delete this User after testing or keep it for future testing situations.

Use EtreCheck

EtreCheck is meant to be used with Support Communities to help people help you with your Mac. EtreCheck will generate a system report that may highlight what is happening with your system. Look for items marked in red when reading your report. Read this page for info on what the report sections means.

Download EtreCheck

Mavericks has major stability issues with older code, specifically…

Startup Items:
Inside /Library/StartupItems/
These have been discontinued by Apple since Mac OS 10.4, but still people have them installed! They are responsible for making changes at a system level. Remove them all or spend time ensuring ALL related software is up to date. You need a very good reason to have anything installed in here.

Kernel Extensions:
Inside /Library/Extensions/
These also load third party code, but they insert it into the ‘core’ of the OS. These can be safe, however you must ensure the related tools or apps are up to date, otherwise the system is basically built upon quicksand. Remove them all & see if the OS works better.

Launchd jobs: several types
LaunchAgents – Stored in /Library/LaunchAgents
LaunchDaemons – Stored in /Library/LaunchDaemons
User LaunchAgents – Stored in /Library/LaunchAgents

These are all background jobs, they are not necessarily bad, but if they are loading old code it could be doing untold damage to the performance & stability of the entire OS. Focus on the System level jobs (the ones inside /Library – the system level) & ‘failed’ jobs.

EtreCheck gives a status on launchd jobs…
[loaded] – a running job
[not loaded] – jobs that are set not to run, basically harmless, remove them unless you plan to use the associated software (if it is up to date)
[failed] – jobs in a crashed or unknown state, it could be forking processes or using all the system resources, remove these

User login items:
Applications and helpers that are managed inside ‘Systems Preferences > Users and groups > Login Items tab’.
These are loaded at the ‘User level’, consider removing all of them whilst you troubleshoot. When you decide to re-add them ensure the software is up to date.

3rd Party Preference Panes: & Internet Plug-ins:
/Library/PreferencePanes/ and ~/Library/PreferencePanes/
/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/ and ~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/

~/ is your home folder, use the Finders ‘Go menu > Go to Folder…’ to open the hidden ~/Library folder.
Once again these items all must be up to date, or remove them from your system. If the prefpanes manage additional software use the uninstaller or see the developers site for uninstall instructions.

Read the list of plug-ins carefully, there are often duplicate Flash player versions that won’t help stability, it’s just wasted space too.

Top Processes by Memory:
Top Processes by CPU:
‘Memory & CPU hogs’ will be shown here – if it is using a huge amount of RAM or CPU, check it is up to date.

Virtual Memory Statistics
How much memory is being used for applications & services on the computer.

The critical items to look at are:
page-ins – writing files from disk to memory (this is completely normal)
page-outs – writing memory to disk. This is a slow process, it’s a sign your machine has run out of RAM.

Have a known good backup before you modify the system, reboot after removing anything that loads as the system, basically anything inside /Library. You can move the files in question to another disk or folder if you want to be extra careful, just make sure the original files don’t still exist.

Options to Repair

Run Repair Permissions

  • Open Disk Utility in your Applications/Utility folder.
  • Click on the First Aid tab and select Repair Permissions
  • Click on the icon for your boot volume.
  • Click the repair permissions button.

Run Keychain FirstAid

  • Open Keychain Access in Applications/Utilities.
  • Under Keychain Access in the Menu bar select Keychain First Aid.
  • Enter your password and select Repair.
  • You will probably get some items colored red. Click ‘Repair’ again until all is clear.

Windows resized and moved?

  • Open System Preferences under the Apple in the Menu bar
  • Select Displays
  • Click on Resolution:  select “scaled,” and then back to “best for display.”

Use OS X Recovery Disk Assistant to reset YOUR files and folder permissions. How to

You can also run Repair Permissions and Repair Drive from the Recovery drive. You cannot run Repair Drive while booted from that drive.

Some users have found that re-installing  Mavericks has helped. You can do this in Recovery drive too. It does not erase your data, but like a combo updater it installs the OS X files again.

Send & Receive Errors

Deleting an account and adding it back can resolve issues with Send & Receive. If that fails, testing in a new Identity will eliminate any issues with your current Identity.

  • Open Database Utility by hold down the Option key when launching Outlook.
  • Click on the + and add a new Identity.
  • Set as default.
  • Open Outlook in the new Identity.
  • Enter your account and see if it will Send & Receive.
    • If you have a POP account be sure you select to “leave on server”  after downloading.
  • If the new Identity solves yur problems, see this link: How to move your data to a new Identity

New in Mavericks System Preferences, you’ll find Internet Accounts. Currently Outlook for Mac does not use the Preference pane to enter accounts, but Apple Mail does. If you are using Apple Mail and are having issues with an account, delete and add here and not in Mail > Accounts.

Remove Duplicate Fonts

See instructions here to remove duplicate fonts using Font Book.

Office 2011 Font Management with Mavericks

Fix Non-English version of Office for Mac

This example is for French Office, substitute your language in instructions. This can break future updaters from properly updating your software. Use at your own risk.

Change to English en.lproj

  • Applications > Microsoft Office 2011
  • Select Word
  • Control-Click (Right-click) on Word and select Show Package Contents
  • Contents > Resources
  • Change FOLDER name from fr.lproj to en.lproj

What are my options to sync?

Sync Services is no longer supported in Mavericks. Syncing with an iPhone via iTunes is not supported on Mavericks. This has a big effect on Outlook users that want to sync to their iPhones and iPad with Apple Calendar and Address Book.

Outlook 2011 does not support CalDAV or CardDAV. These protocols are required to sync to iCloud, Google, Yahoo etc. I doubt we will see CalDAV & CardDAV added to Outlook 2011 since it’s already 3 years old. Hopefully a new version is in the works and we’ll see then if Microsoft decides to add support or stick with Exchange only for sync options.

Your only option to continue using Outlook and sync your data to your iPhone and iPad would be to use Exchange. Microsoft now offers Exchange online for $4/month.  Otherwise, you can move to Apple Mail and use Calendar and Contacts to sync via iCloud or manually enter data in both Outlook and Apple contacts and calendar.

If sync using CalDAV and CardDAV is a feature that you consider useful, be sure to let Microsoft know by sending them feedback. The more reports they get the higher it gets on the list.

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28 comments to Issues with Mavericks and Office for Mac – How to troubleshoot

  • […] Mac Help blog, Diane Ross offers a couple of excellent troubleshooting guides. The first offers a punch-list for iS managers to run down a range of problems that users of Office for Mac 2011 may have with Mavericks, and the second is aimed at dealing […]

  • […] Ross says that we offer a couple of troubleshooting guides. The first one is a punch-list for the iS manager to eliminate the problems that the users of Office may have with the newly released Mavericks, the second one is focused on […]

  • […] Mac Help blog, Diane Ross offers a couple of excellent troubleshooting guides. The first offers a punch-list for iS managers to run down a range of problems that users of Office for Mac 2011 may have with Mavericks, and the second is aimed at dealing […]

  • the “Fix Non-English version of Office for Mac” procedure did the trick,

    the situation was:
    – OS upgraded from snow leopard to maverick
    – word was showing a blank document instead of the real docx’s content

    after the folder rename all went to its place.

    Thanks Diane,

  • Becky Waring

    I am upgrading to a new Mac with Mavericks from an old one with Snow Leopard. I used Migration Assistant to bring over my applications, settings, data, etc., including Office 2011, for which I re-entered my product key and re-activated. Everything works fine EXCEPT the Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant, which spins and spins and finally says it cannot find the server.

    I can find no information online about this issue.

    Can you help?


    • Migration often fails for Microsoft Office and other applications like Adobe that require installers. I suggest you remove Office 2011 then re-install. Office for Mac 2011: Remove Office The simple remove should work.

      Be sure to fully update (14.3.9) after reinstalling. If you can’t find your CD or your new Mac does not have a CD disk, you can download a digital copy here:

      You will need your 25-character product key to complete the download.

      Note: it is possible that the Microsoft servers are down. You can wait a bit to see if it connects.

  • Jeremy F

    When I mount my Office 2008 DVD’s, no icon appears on the desktop. It’s as if Mavericks is blocking both DVD’s. The Apple hardware test DVD works fine. I’ve changed the security to temporarily allow unsigned Developer code. DiskUtil hangs If I try to see if the DVD is mounted. Terminal command hangs too. I have to go thru the log off/restart headaches to eventually get the DVD to eject. Any ideas, short of going back and reinstalling Snow Leopard, then Office 2008 then ungraded to Mavericks? The DVD eject takes 5-7 minutes to occur…

    • Look for an email from me with additional instructions.

      Did you install Mavericks over your old install? If yes, what version of OSX. You might need to do a clean install of Mavericks.

  • Jeremy F

    Hi Diane.
    I am guessing Mavericks may have dumbed down the DVD driver… I get
    SAM Multimedia: READ or WRITE failed, SENSE_KEY = 0x03, ASC = 0x02, ASCQ = 0x00
    From Googling it looks like it may be the way Microsoft formatted the DVD – like Joliet – some ISO format that the MATSUI DVD Super Drive no longer is able to interpret, hence the drutil eject locking up and lack of DVD icon on the desktop. I think I had no issues with Snow Leopard! I’ve seen the disk images listed on digital river too. Just wish I could Google an official Apple fix or this and not rely on images I don’t have a good idea of a level of trust for.

  • Maarten von Kreijfelt

    I have the same problem as Jeremy F. I have a clean install of maverick (after a consisting booting problem i erased the disk on my iMac and installed Maverick again. The Office:Mac 2008 DVD is thrown out of my DVD drive immedialtly and so it wont install. Ehat can I do. Please help

  • Tzvi C

    Hi Diane,

    I’m having a minor (yet extremely annoying) side effect from upgrading from snow leopard to mavericks: as i respond to e-mail, outlook 2011 seems to lose focus while I type (and then starts beeping until I click back in the e-mail window with my mouse). This seems to happen when outlook automatically capitalizes a letter for the first time in a reply. Once I click to regain focus, this doesn’t happen again.

    Any clue as to what can be done to fix this?

    Thank you!

    • Are you updated to 10.9.2?

      Is Outlook v14.3.9?

      If you log out under the Apple in the Menu bar then log in with the Shift key down (this disables login items), do you see the issue.

  • Graeme Macdonald

    I’m having a problem with Word 2011’s Focus view after installing 10.9.2 update. After switching a document to focus view (which I rely on) functionality seems to corrode. I can’t search for a word in the document, for example, or the toolbar refuses to come into view. Has anyone else reported this?

  • Melanie

    Hi! I am having problems printing with Microsoft 2011 and 10.9.2.

    I have done all of the recommendations listed above and when I try to print word, excel & powerpoint crashes.

    What else can I do to fix this problem?


    • Create a new User in System Preferences. Log out/in to the new User. Open Word. It won’t be in the Dock. Go to Applications and open Word. Try printing. Does it work? If yes, the problem is in your User’s folder if no it’s a problem with your OS X files and/or Office. You might need to re-install OS X and/or Office.

  • Andrew James

    I have found one annoying issue with Excel v14.4 (Office for Mac 2011) since upgrading from Mac 10.6.8 to 10.9.2. I have multiple monitors and when I close an Excel window on one of the secondary monitors, and the relevant spreadsheet has had changes since last save, a dialog asking if I want to save the changes pops up as usual but the focus has moved to a spreadsheet window I have open on my main monitor!

    As a keyboard shortcut fan, it is very frustrating as I have lots of spreadsheets open on different monitors all the time and closing them each time is a frustrating exercise.

    Any suggestions?

  • lucy c

    Hello! I was hoping you could help me with something. I recently changed the name of the main user on my Mac and since then I have been unable to login to Lync.

    I have uninstalled Lync (properly, by deleting all folders in library) then reinstalled Lync and I also repaired the permissions in the disk utility. To make sure this was an issue with my user folder, I created a new temporary user and installed Lync under the account for the temporary user and experienced no issues when opening the application.

    I have a copy of the error message I receive when opening Lync under my main user account, but it is quite long. Would you mind reaching out to me so that I can send this to you in an email? thank you : )

  • I just wanted to say THANKS! My Microsoft Office for Mac (2008) stopped working after I upgraded to Mavericks last fall and at the time I couldn’t find any guidance on how to fix the problem so I uninstalled it. (Since then, I have struggled along using OpenOffice for Mac, which is functional but not as polished as Microsoft Office for Mac.)

    I started a new job and it behooved me to either get Office 2008 working again or to bite the bullet on Microsoft’s new (and ultimately costly) Office 365. I searched the web and found your advice (which must have been posted after I’d given up on finding guidance last fall):

    The Microsoft Error Reporting Tool (MERP) and Mavericks is not playing nice. Disable if you see crashes involving MERP. Open MERP then select to deactivate in Preferences.

    …and after doing a clean installation of Office 2008 (which I’d deleted from my system after it had stopped working), I once again have a functional licensed copy of Office on my MacBook Pro.

    So, once again, THANKS!!! 🙂

  • Anne

    I just installed office 365 on a Maverick 10.9.4 operating system. I initially open Outlook input my name&domain/ and password. I have been sitting here for 2 hours and only 4,000 emails have loaded down from the server. I clicked on the outlook triangle down at the bottom and I see a lot of calendar errors. I then downloaded the 365 to a windows computer using the same name/domain and it took about 1 hour to download all of the emails plugged into the router.

    Kill Me Now…

    I have removed the account 2 times & I have done a re-install of 365. Any ideas?

    Thanks & I hope I made sense.

    oh, I also have parallels running with MSOffice suite.

  • Tonyf

    A colleague cannot see the quick preview in the printing dialog box. Nor can she see “Copies and Pages” section nor ‘Word.’ All the other printing preference sections are visible and accessible. Word is fully updated to 14.4.4, and mavericks and the print driver are also up to date.
    Any help welcome – I am not seeing the fix
    cheers and tia

  • tania

    Thank you!!!!! So helpful. You saved/made my day!