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Addressing problems with installing Office for Mac updates

If you are having problems installing the latest Office for Mac updates, here are some tips that may help.

Microsoft released updates to Office 2011 and other Office versions earlier this week that provide a number of security updates to the program and are recommended installations for people running Office on their Macs. The updates seem to install fine on most systems, but a few people have contacted us and mentioned on the Office for Mac forums that they are experiencing problems with hanging or other errors when attempting to install.

If you are having troubles installing the latest updates, there are a few things you can try:

  1. Turn off sync services in Outlook's preferences
    MacFixIt reader "jsylla" wrote in with a potential easy fix for people who are experiencing installer hangs when updating:

    I could not get the 4/12/11 update to install. It would hang with a message that the sync server process was in the way. I tried killing it in Activity Monitor, but it comes to life like a zombie. The fix was to turn off Sync Services in MS Office for Mac 2011's preferences, then Restart. The process (presumably used to synchronize contacts with the Apple software, which syncs to iPhone,) was no longer present and the install proceeded.

    The sync services preferences can be found by launching Outlook and going to the preferences. On the Sync Services pane, uncheck all sync options (Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Notes).

  2. Turn off the system firewall
    Some of the features of both Office and the Microsoft AutoUpdate program interact with the OS X firewall, so when installing the update you might try disabling the firewall by clicking the appropriate button on the Firewall tab in the Security system preferences. If this is successful, be sure to turn the firewall back on after updating Office.

  3. Boot to Safe Mode
    Many times you can avoid software conflicts that affect updates and installations by booting into Safe Mode before installing. Download the update via Microsoft's AutoUpdate program or get a standalone installer (found here for Office 2011, Office 2008, and Office 2004), and then boot to Safe Mode by holding the Shift key at start-up and install the program once the system has loaded.

  4. Run a general maintenance routine
    In addition to booting into Safe Mode to install, you can go a little further and run a general maintenance routine to clear system caches and fix permissions problems before applying the update. Information on running a general maintenance routine on your Mac can be found in this article.

  5. Reinstall Office
    As a last resort you can try uninstalling and reinstalling Office. If the program's installation is corrupted then it may result in a hang or other problem during installation. If your Office installation is fairly straightforward (no add-on tools or other major customizations) then you might try following the procedure in this Microsoft knowledgebase article to fully remove Office, and then install the program again, followed by updating it.

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