Photos disappear in documents | From the Wire Business

I’ve been running Microsoft Office 365 on a desktop computer and two laptops. But after a few months, the program suddenly stopped saving images that I’d previously added to Word documents. When I called up the documents, the photos were gone.

This happened on the two laptops at the same time, even though they aren’t networked together.

What can I do?

The issue isn’t really that Office 365 has stopped storing the photos. They are still contained in the same Word documents as before, but they are not being displayed when you open those documents. Both laptops were affected because they are “networked”; they can share Word files that are stored online.

The “invisible photo” problem can be caused by incorrect Word settings, or by how you “view” the document in Word (whether with “draft” view or “print layout” view). Photos can also become invisible based on how you added a photo to Word, and on where the photo originated.

Some potential fixes:

• If you added a photo to a Word document as “text,” a tight arrangement of words may prevent the picture from appearing if you look at the document in “draft” view (a blank space appears instead). But if you look at the document in “print layout” view, the photo will be displayed. Put more space between the lines of text to make a photo visible in draft view.

• Something similar happens if you add a photo to a Word document as a “drawing.” The photo can be seen in “print layout,” view, but not in “draft” view. So, use the print layout view.

• If the photos in your Word documents originated on the Web, you could have a different problem. While you may have downloaded an actual photo, it’s also possible that you have downloaded only a link to the photo’s online location. If your document contains a link to an online photo, your PC must be connected to the internet for that photo to appear in a printout. (To download actual Web photos instead of links, see and scroll down to “Graphics pasted from the Web.”)

• Changing some office settings may prevent photos from becoming “invisible.” See the same website and scroll down to “Word 2010 and above.” The new settings eliminate “placeholders” for photos, enable printing of photos added as “drawings” and avoid the text line-spacing issue that hides pictures.

My AOL software can no longer read emails I receive from a friend.

Her company recently switched to Microsoft Outlook, and since then her email has arrived as “winmail.dat” attachments that I can’t open.

What can I do?

Your friend’s email is in the wrong format for AOL software.

Microsoft Outlook is one of the few email programs that uses “rich text format” (RTF), with a look that’s between the no-frills Plain Text format and the graphically rich HTML (hypertext markup language) format. Because RTF is rarely used, AOL software isn’t designed to read it, and you are left with a useless winmail.dat attachment.

Tell your friend to switch her Outlook from RTF to either Plain Text or HTML formats that AOL can read (see

Steve Alexander covers technology for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Readers can email questions to him at Please include a full name, city and phone number.

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