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.