Envelopes and Labels Dialog Box Slow to Open

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 15, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, and 2013


Charles recently upgraded to Word 2013 from 2003. Starting Word 2013 is very quick; it starts in about two seconds. However, when he displays the Mailings tab of the ribbon and clicks either the Envelopes or Labels tools (in the Create group), he notices that it takes 20 to 30 seconds to display the Envelopes and Labels dialog box. Taking over ten times as long to open this dialog box as to start the program seems excessive to Charles.

You are right, Charles—it does seem a bit excessive. Yet, in testing the your scenario, the same thing happened to us. The Envelopes and Labels dialog box was very slow to open when first summoned. Subsequent requests to display the dialog box were much quicker, functioning as expected. This seems to indicate that the first time the dialog box is displaying, Word is gathering some info that is necessary for the dialog box but that the information, once gathered, isn't required for subsequent displays.

My guess (and it is just that—a guess) is that Word must pull together information from several different areas of your system. It needs to pull your return address info from the registry, it needs to query the printer to see how it can handle envelope feeding, it needs to load the databases of envelope and label templates, it needs to grab info about electronic postage (if you have that option installed), it needs to query Outlook to see about potential contacts, and probably half a dozen other things that aren't that obvious.

It appears that all of this checking with other systems and subsystems and querying drivers and databases takes time. Word only goes through the process when needed—when you first display the dialog box. After that, the information is already in memory and there is no need to go through the process again.

This means that the obvious solution is to not shut down Word once you've opened it for the day. If you, for instance, would normally use Word in three or four sessions during a typical day, just open it once and leave it open on your desktop throughout the day. That way you only need to have the delay occur a single time—when you first display the dialog box.

Now, that being said, it is possible that your particular system may be experiencing even slower display times than someone else. The only way to know this is to run a few tests on someone else's computer. For instance, if you are working in an office, you might sit down at someone else's computer (with their permission, of course) and see how long it takes their system to display the dialog box the first time. If it is comparable to yours, then you know it is just the slowness inherent in doing all the tasks already recounted. If it is quicker than yours (perhaps it takes only 10 to 15 seconds instead of 20 to 30) then you can start looking for differences between your system and the other.

For example, you might compare the amount of RAM in each system, or the speed of the hard drive. (The latter is because Windows may be needing to fetch information from hard drive to refresh what is already in memory.) It could also be that there could be a difference in graphics hardware or printer drivers. There could be a difference in add-ins loaded on the systems. Any of these could affect the speed at which Word and Windows do their work.

If you narrow the problem down to the system differences, then the only solution is to bring your system closer to the faster system, in terms of capabilities.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11892) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 9 + 4?

2017-05-16 12:57:41

Karl Gregg

Yes, I too have noticed the delay. It is very long compared to other Dialog boxes. I have version 2013 same as your Charles and running Win 10 on a Surface Pro. Let's nag Microsoft about this.
I just assumed as you did that Word was gathering resources.

2016-04-13 12:59:44



2016-04-13 12:58:35


I have another solution--if the problem did not exist in previous editions of MS Word, I would suggest that Microsoft fix the problem!! I have this problem today, 04/16/2016, in Windows 10, and a very speedy machine.

2014-11-13 07:49:50


I know what happens. Word is making an INSANE number of registry reads, more than 100000 (yes, 100K), when the dialog is first opened.
There are a lot of different entries being read, but the real problem is that each value is being read repeatedly - hundreds, maybe thousands of times each.

When the dialog is opened a second time, only a few hundred file and registry operations are made.

This issue is being reported to MS.

2014-06-12 18:04:36



Erratic Behavior of Ctrl+PgDn Tip 12195

Link broken!

Having FUN


2014-05-24 07:33:18


Update May 23, 2014: Sent laptop back to ACER for diagnosis. They found nothing wrong with the display adapter, it was not failing. Therefore, this is something Microsoft Office team needs to fix.

2014-05-02 14:20:55


Same experience, in a fast, up-to-date Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit environment. This is what I tried: Elsewhere they say to update printer drivers. I did. I made sure the printer was on. I signed out of my Microsoft account while in Word. No change. So I completely uninstalled Office and Outlook 2013, and did a clean reinstall of both. No change. This is on Microsoft. The behavior began showing up after Microsoft's massive April 2014 update for Windows 8.1. Microsoft's Answer Desk has no solution. Outlook 2013 starts up fast. Word and Excel 2013 start up fast. It's just the envelopes and labels modes that stick. I don't like leaving a program up and running all day, although my system has plenty of RAM. The whole thing is stupid.

2013-10-14 14:13:25


With today's CPUs (or even those of a decade ago) the time to pull information from within the computer is miniscule. More likely the information is being extracted from a peripheral source that is either not online (i.e. a default printer that is off), asleep (i.e. printer that needs to wake from a power saving mode), or heavily loaded (i.e. a busy or asleep online postage service). The first case can also be a problem if Word is searching for a cached resource reference that is not available, and it waits for a pre-determined timeout period before going to a default value. For some arcane reason Word stores the Fully Qualified File Name of the template from which a document was created. Upon opening the document, Word checks for that file but apparently takes no other action. If that file were stored on the C: drive then there would never be a problem even if the file was not there. However, it the file were on a network resource which had be moved to another server, the Word would wait for the network process to timeout with a NOT_FOUND error. This could be a long wait in a large corporate network. Similar problems occur with cached storage and removable storage. Back when Word used a proprietary format I couldn't figure out why opening the file was so slow and contacted MS support. They looked into the file and discovered that it was looking for a document template on the floppy drive, but when it timed-out it erased the cached floppy address in the template dialog box; thus faking me into thinking everything was OK.

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