Bug: Outlook shows only the first lines of an e-mail (May 10/11, 2021)

[German]Currently, reports are piling up that an update of Outlook (C2R version) may have caused a bug. The mail program suddenly displays only the first lines of emails. Here is a summary of what has come to my attention. Addendum: Microsoft has released a Fix.


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First user message in the blog

The problem first came to my attention a few hours ago through this comment by German blog reader Matthias Kammerlohr. Matthias wrote (I’ve translated the text):

Have had no problems upgrading Exchange 2013, 2016 and 2019 – however, since just now we have had the problem that Outlook (after a restart) can no longer display emails and this is not the case for either on-prem or cloud customers.
Can anyone confirm this?

The problem was then confirmed by Josef Hlawaty and J K in follow-up comments:

Josef Hlawat: Yes, have the same problem here with an Exchange 2016 CU20. You only see the first line of each mail (e.g. “Hello!”). Scrollbars for the rest are there, but nothing is displayed….

J K: Upgrade from Exchange 2013 Cu23 went without any problems.
However, I also have the problem that Outlook can no longer display the emails correctly.

In OWA everything is displayed normally.

So it was not an isolated case – and then the messages came in on other channels as well.

More reports via Facebook and Twitter

On Twitter Benjamin reported with the following tweet:

Outlook can't dispay mail body


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Then there was a private message on Facebook from Meinolf W., who asked if I had heard anything about a problem that prevents Outlook from displaying mails. Quote: “hm now all my mail accounts are blank even the ms365”. Meinolf referred to this German forum discussion at Computer Base, which started on May 10, 2021.

Outlook shows only the first/first lines of an email

I have been using the same Outlook on the computer here for years without any problems and since today only the first or first lines of emails are shown to me (see screenshot) and nothing else. Restarting Outlook and the PC have brought nothing What can this be?

Outlook zeigt nur die erste/ersten Zeilen einer E-Mail
(Source: ComputerBase, Click to zoom)

It seems to affect Click-2-Run versions of Microsoft Outlook, which must have been updated recently. The ComputerBase thread confirms the bug and there are now already three pages on the topic. According to those affected, the problem occurs with Microsoft Outlook 2016/2019 and for Microsoft 365 whereby different versions (version version 16.0.13929.20360 Build 2104 (13929.20296 but also 13929.20372) are mentioned. In tensforum here is also a comment on the topic New Microsoft 365 Current Channel v2104 build 13929.20372 – May 11 with the following comment:

After this update my Outlook no longer displays the body of my e-mails. I only see the subject line and for a brief moment the first line of the e-mail before it disappears. I can’t find the feedback option and when I tried live chat I started in the line number 208. Probably faster to go with another e-mail program.

The remedy is to downgrade to the previous version by opening an administrative command prompt and then running the following command:

"C:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\ClickToRun\officec2rclient.exe" /update user updatetoversion=16.0.13901.20462

Then restart Outlook – has helped those affected.

Addendum: Autofix by Microsoft

Microsoft has probably released a fix for the display error in mails during the night. In the Microsoft 365 Admin Center there is an entry EX255650: Issue affecting viewing email content in Outlook with the following information.

Title: Issue affecting viewing email content in Outlook

User Impact: Users may be unable to view email message content within Outlook.

More info: Impact is specific to the Outlook client and users with access to other protocols, such as Outlook on the web or the Outlook mobile app, can view message content in those platforms as a potential workaround while our fix is applied.

Current status: We’ve identified the underlying cause of impact and are applying a fix. This fix will reach all affected users incrementally over the course of the next four-to-five hours. Once users receive the fix, they will need to restart their email client to apply the fix. In some circumstances, users may need to restart their client a second time for the changes to take effect. We expect to complete this process and restore service for all affected users by May 12, 2021, at 3:00 AM UTC.

We encourage affected users who are able to do so to leverage the workarounds described above in the „more info“ section of this post while we complete the process of fixing this problem.

Scope of impact: This issue could affect any user attempting to view an email message in the Outlook client.

Root cause: A recent change to systems that facilitate text display management for content within the Outlook client caused impact.

By now, a fix should have been rolled out for the affected systems, which will be installed via auto-update. But comments from my German readers say, that the fix doesn’t help – there are white text on white background, so marking the mail body shows the text. Also launching Outlook in safe mode (see this article from Bleeping Computer) will show the mail.

I can’t test anything, because I decided in 2009 to go without this quality software from redmond.


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6 Responses to Bug: Outlook shows only the first lines of an e-mail (May 10/11, 2021)

  1. Rob says:

    Thank you for posting this. I had tried everything I could think of to resolve this issue for a client and this finally resolved this issue.

  2. Isaac S. says:

    I had the exact same issue/behavior as described above.  All fine seeing email content in Outlook 2019 (on Windows 10, recent build) for years, until today.  Was emailing all morning, later my system froze (maybe for another reason) then upon reboot Outlook only displays the first line of any of 1000s of emails in all my pst’s.

    I know the content is still there b/c I had to respond to a hot biz email, so viewed content on our shadow bcc’s gmail account then replied to the email in Outlook, typed my reply message in notepad, tried to cursor to above the 1st (only) line shown, and pasted my message there.and sent it out, which bcc’d to our backup gmail.  Looked in that Gmail what was sent, and I saw that the whole original email message was present in the normal ‘reply’ format, except the message I tried pasting above that 1st line, ended up near the end of and in-line with the sender’s message.  So, the good news is that it appears PST content is not affected, just the display of it.  What a stupid ass company Microsoft is.

    My co–worker has Outlook 2016 on Win7, and no such issues yet, however, she has not rebooted he system, yet, either.

    I’ll try that command line and report back what happens.

  3. Isaac S. says:

    awesome, that reverting to older version command line above worked for me. Yippee!
    BTW, apparently, the update cause other kinds of bugs, at least since May 6th. See:
    https://community.spiceworks.com/topic/2317076-outlook-2019-suggested-recipients-ascend-off-screen-rather-than-descend

    thx!

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  5. Anonymous says:

    FYI,
    Microsoft is reported to have identified the root cause of the issue and is in the process of rolling out a fix to reach all affected users in the coming hours. Once users received the fix, they will need to restart their email client to apply the fix:

    Re : https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/microsoft/microsoft-outlook-bug-prevents-viewing-or-creating-email-worldwide/

    Additional info from the following forum poster that the issue is not related to the May 2021 Patch Tuesday updates currently been released.

    Re : https://www.askwoody.com/forums/topic/annnnnd-they-are-out-patch-tuesday-for-may-2021/#post-2364355

    Cheers.

  6. Mike says:

    Thank you for blogging about this -it helped me out on the 12th May

  7. Brett says:

    I had this same problem only the first line showing…my fix was easier…I just switched to Thunderbird…much better interface much better email searches. Controls that I need and want not all the bizarre weird stuff nobody could possibly find.

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