Recently I’ve been having a graphical problem with Microsoft Word flickering. At first, it was black, purple, and red lines on the screen. Pretty annoying but acceptable. A restart of my pc had always solved the problem. However, it has gotten worse lately. A solid black rectangle now covers most parts of the document. I have to click on random parts of the screen or highlight a bunch of it to get the black part to go away.
I fixed it by disabling the GPU Hardware acceleration, same as I did in Microsoft Teams to improve performance. In this blog post, I have summed up every possible solution I tried, in order of most likely to less likely. If you perform the solutions from top to bottom, you are guaranteed success. And please let me know in the comments section below which solution applied to you 🙂
Fix: Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration in Word
Video cards and drivers are known to cause these kinds of problems in Microsoft Word. This does not mean that your video card is defective, but that the cooperation between your video card and Word is not good. The easiest way to fix this is to disable hardware graphics acceleration. The result is that from now on your CPU will be used for graphics calculations. This is not a disaster in Word, as it does not involve complicated graphics. Follow these steps to disable hardware graphics acceleration
- Click the File tab.
- Click Options
- Click Advanced.
- Under Display, select the Disable hardware graphics acceleration check box.
- Click OK to apply the changes. Restart Word.
Pro tip: Once you are in the Advanced section of Word Options, press ALT+G to go straight to the Disable hardware graphics acceleration option.
You can recognize this shortkey by the underscore under the g in the text Disable hardware graphics acceleration
Fix: Update your video driver
Outdated video drivers are often the cause of graphics problems. Newer drivers fix security issues, improve PC performance, and fix bugs. Usually, Microsoft-approved drivers come in automatically through Windows Update. But you can also visit the website of the manufacturer that your video card belongs to for the latest drivers. For example AMD or Nvidia.
If you’re on a laptop, go to your laptop manufacturer’s website and search for drivers for your model. Laptops often need specific drivers that are issued by your laptop manufacturer
Fix: Repair the Office 365 suite
If the graphics card solutions didn’t help you solve the problem, a repair of the Office 365 suite may fix the issue. Needless to say, also make sure you keep your Office 365 suite up to date with Windows Update. Every month new updates are released with performance improvements and stability fixes.
Follow the steps on this website to repair Office:
Other fixes for Word flickering
In my belief, there are no other fixes to apply to this specific problem. If you experience the issues only in Microsoft Word, then the problem lies there. Other websites will tell you to do OS Troubleshooting steps, like “dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth” or “sfc /scannow“. Or even reset your PC. But these steps are way too drastic for this problem.
If you experience the same graphical issues in other applications than Office 365, like Windows OS or browser, then it could be a Windows 10 issue. In that case, you could try to reset your pc (while keeping all your applications and documents), or try the tips from this website: https://www.dell.com/support/article/sln298620/troubleshooting-a-flickering-display-after-a-windows-10-upgrade
Symptoms of graphical problems in Word
You may experience a wide variety of weird visual errors in Word. These differ per person and per PC, but the most common are: purple stripes, red lines, black areas, black rectangles, flickering or not.
A fun fact: if you want to show the problem to someone else, do not make a print screen from Windows, but take a picture with your phone. A screen capture of your Word window will not record the problems. It is only the visual aspect where the problem takes place.
Registry setting for Hardware Graphics Acceleration
Disabling the hardware graphics acceleration is also possible by editing the registry. This may become handy in larger environments, where you have to turn it off for multiple users at once:
As you may have noticed, it is located in Common, so the setting applies to all Office products. Turning it off for Word will also disable it in Outlook, Powerpoint, Excel, Onenote, Access, etc, you get it 😛