Word 365 Mac "Content Area is Empty"

macOS & Mac Apps

Hi, all,

Is anyone else having a problem where Word 365 can't access the text in a document and gives messages like "Empty layout area" and "Content is empty"? This has been going on for a few months and I'm getting around to trying to fix it because I need to work on a collaborative document that requires Word features. I have Catalina version 3 and the latest version of Word 365. I have tried uninstalling and reinstalling the Word 365 app.

I know there's something there because the documents can be opened in other apps like Pages.If I move the cursor to the layout area and click, I can select all and copy to another app. But whether I enter the layout area and try the read-to-end command nothing happens, and if I try to arrow down, I get the error sound.

i opened a support chat with Microsoft Office. They were unable to advise me and they gave me the phone number for the accessibility team. They were not able to provide mac-related support and gave me another number to call. I called that number and they tried to refer me back to the accessibility team, and my call was dropped.

I'm out of ideas and wondering if anyone has had this problem and found a workaround.



Submitted by peter on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

I don't know about the experience with MS Word on a Mac, but your problem doesn't surprise me. I've been trying to use MS Word on my iPhone running the latest versions of iOS for well over a year now in order to integrate with other Office apps and services on the cloud and my PC.

My biggest problem is that when selecting/highlighting text using the Shift+OptionsKey+ArrowKey with a bluetooth keyboard and VoiceOver, VoiceOver does not speak the selected text as it does with edit fields in every other app on my system. Also, although I can open a blank template once and work with text, if I close the document and try to open a second blank document I run into the same problem you describe, i.e., there doesn't seem to be any area for text input that I can find using VoiceOver.

I've written to Microsoft's Twitter feed, posted comments and bug reports on their iOS support web site, talked with folks at the Disability Answer Desk several times, but this problem still persists after more than a year. I don't know if any blind folks are successfully using this app.

My general workaround is to edit a document in the Notes app on my phone and then paste it into a Word document and save it to the cloud. It would really be nice to be able to integrate Office apps across devices as sighted people are presumably able to do, but I've just about given up. Maybe it will be easier in the end analysis to use Pages and just bite the bullet and do the translations back and forth to Word format.

Not a happy camper.


Submitted by Daniel Angus MacDonald on Thursday, April 2, 2020

Club AppleVis Member


I never use Microsoft Office apps on the mac! I used to use Outlook but have a problem where it freezes after the first message. that is why I set up my exchange account I use for university in the Mac's Mail app. works much better!

Submitted by Jenna Pepper on Thursday, April 2, 2020

MS Word most definitely works properly. I had this issue about 2 months ago and I fixed it. Unfortunately the only thing that worked was the nuclear option. Purging every last bit of Microsoft-related thing on my machine did nothing. I had to wipe the drive and reinstall Mac OS on a fresh partition. Thankfully the recovery utility is fully accessible.