After opening a few documents that are about a year old, a lot of them show blank placeholders for some of the JPG/PNG images. Not all images, but most of them. Strangely enough I can right-click and Save Image As... to get the image out as a JPG/PNG file, and if I view that file it's fine. But even if I try re-insert those images, they're still blank.

Also, in the Read Layout, they show up fine, but not in the Print Layout.

Any ideas how to fix it?

  • What if you save as and re-name them. Same issue? I'm not suggesting this as a work around, but curious. Finally, save as from word, and then resave them with a drawing editing tool (like MS Paint)
    – Dave
    Sep 4, 2017 at 11:23
  • Trying to add them back with the same or different name doesn't work - still just a blank placeholder. Editing with Paint and then inserting: still blank. Adding a new picture that wasn't in before: blank also. Weird.
    – SeanW
    Sep 4, 2017 at 15:18
  • Thank you Dave!!! Not sure how that got set, but anyway - it's fixed it. Thank you!
    – SeanW
    Sep 4, 2017 at 19:42

2 Answers 2


Click the Office button > Word Options > Advanced and click on Show document content.

Is there a checkbox for Show picture placeholders? I suspect it has been checked.


A user of mine had this problem recently, what happened is that when opening documents in Word 2013, the document would crash Word. Word 2016 would only show placeholder images and sometimes crash. Never got to try 365.

Unzipping the docx-file and rummaging around in the xml-files within I saw that some images was linked to websites that were since long gone. As soon as one scrolled to one such image, a placeholder would be shown or with older Word it crashed.

For instance, in the file word\document.xml there is something called <a:blip r:embed="rId22" r:link="rId23">.

The r:link is defined in word\_rels\document.xml.rels. In my example it looked like this: <Relationship Id="rId23" Type="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/officeDocument/2006/relationships/image" Target="http://servername.se/images/series1/image.gif" TargetMode="External"/>

So, with this information, one can either try to fix the document or delet

What I did however, is make a powershell script that simply removes the r:link="rIdXX" altogether. The best thing is that the images are still stored inside the docx-file so once I did this, the document was restored to its original state with all images working and Word 2013 stopped crashing.


I had placeholder images in a lot of older docx documents, unzipped the docx, removed all instances of r:link="rIdXX" inside the document.xml with a regex search and the document started working again.

Hope this helps!

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