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Seeing Blank Boxes Instead of Pasted Pictures in MS Word

Recently a reader wrote in asking about a problem when pasting pictures in MS Word:

When I do a print screen of my desktop and paste in Word, I get a blank box with dashes, yet it works perfectly when I paste in Outlook. Is there any particular reason for this?

Since systems always vary, it could be a multitude of issues but the most common reason I’ve run across is in the options of Word.

Basically there’s a setting that will have Word load pictures as a simple placeholder.


Why would anyone use this?

The most common reason is to speed things up when working on a document with a lot of pictures. The scrolling is much, much faster if Word is not trying to load the pictures every time you scroll through the document.

That being said the next logical thought is to wonder how to change that setting.

As I mentioned before, it’s a setting found in Word’ options. Depending upon the version of Word you’re running they are accessed via the Tools menu (for versions older than 2007), the Office Button (Word 2007) or the File tab of the Ribbon (Word 2010).

Once you’re into the Options dialog box you’ll need to locate the settings for what content Word displays – looking for a reference to picture placeholders.

In the newer versions, you’ll find that in the Advanced Options / Show Document Content section.


Deselect the “Show Picture Placeholders” option and click OK.

That should do the trick – pictures should now be visible in your documents from this point forward.

~ April