Get Past SharePoint Designer Installation Error

This was killing me.  SharePoint Designer is a useful tool for interacting with SharePoint sites, in particular to create new themes and check-in and -out template documents.  I have been working through Packt’s SharePoint 2013 WCM Advanced Cookbook and this is one of the tools it mentions.  But when I grabbed the free application, it wouldn’t install.

The reason it was so irritating was that I had downloaded and installed it with no problem on my personal laptop.  I couldn’t figure out what was unusual about my work machine that would cause the install to fail.  I finally figured it out, so here is how I did it.

First, you need to make sure you have the right version.  If:

  • you are running a 64 bit version of Windows and a 64 bit version of Microsoft Office, get the 64 bit version of SharePoint Designer;
  • you are running a 32 or 64 bit version of Windows and a 32 bit version of Microsoft Office, get the 32 bit version of SharePoint Designer.

My experience was to download the file and then have it throw an error about 5 minutes into the installation.  The first challenge was figuring out what the error meant.  In the end, I found out it was a “generic” error and thus of not much help.  But I did find that I could find the setup log file and that might have a clue.  Click on your Start button and type %tmp%.  This should open up a folder and there will be a setup log file.  Open it with Notepad and you can head down near the bottom to where it throws the error.

In my case, it sounded liked it couldn’t find a file that should have been in C:\MSOCache, a folder that is auto-generated by the installation file.  It creates a bunch of sub-folders for all of the files that are included with SharePoint Designer.  I tried to run the individual setup files for Designer, because there were a number of folders that included elements of Office 2013 – shared components you’d find in other applications.

This generated a second error message – error 1317 – which means that you can’t install that application by itself, because it’s part of a larger package.  Back to the drawing board.  I revisited the log file and this time noticed that it had another error:

Error attaching to OSE

When I looked it up, many of the people discussing it found that, if they moved the Microsoft Help folder (C:\Windows\Microsoft Help), and then installed, it somehow fixed it.  But like most questioners, I didn’t have that folder.  But it twigged me to the solution:  you need to customize the install so that it doesn’t incorporate all of those other Office 2013 components – proofing, etc. – which appear to cause some conflict with the ones you already have installed.

That was a difference between my two PCs as well.  I have Office 2010 and SharePoint Designer on one machine – no problem – but it was when I tried to add it to the machine with Office 2013 that I ran into problems.  This time, I chose the Customize option and eliminated everything that didn’t look specific to SharePoint or the Web.  This is what I left (it’s actually two screens, so you’ll need to scroll up and down in your install):

This shows the items I installed for SharePoint Designer 2013 under a Custom install.
This shows the items I installed for SharePoint Designer 2013 under a Custom install.

As you can see, a lot of that isn’t necessary if you have Office 2013 – or if you only need SharePoint Designer 2013.  I included just the Web themes, Foundation Support, and the core program.  Once I clicked the Continue button, the installation completed without a problem and SharePoint Designer was installed.  I may yet find that the installation is too bare bones but I can always re-run the installation and add in additional elements.

David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.