"Message" tab missing in outlook ribbon (TabReadMessage) RRS feed

  • Question

  • This is a strange error and I'm hoping that somebody has experienced this, or at least has some insight as to what could be the underlying cause.

    I have an outlook VSTO plug-in that I created. I use the ribbon XML stuff to modify the ribbon in several places, including the Compose Email form,  the Explorer and explorer context menu.

    I DO NOT modify the ribbon on the Read Email form. However, very occasionally and seemingly at random (and it's never happened to me) one of my users will complain that the Message tab is missing when they read an email. I've attached a screenshot here to demonstrate that it's truly gone, but the ribbon is still visible.

    A company called "add-in express" had a similar problem with their product and the solution was to override all of the "GetVisible" callbacks in the XML to be: visible="true". Here's the rub: I don't use their product to update my ribbon and I DON'T modify the READ form's ribbon at all. I asked their support team about it, and they don't understand why their product caused the message tab to disappear or why their work-around fixed it.

    I'm at a loss here. Any help here would be GREATLY appreciated. I'm very, VERY inclined to say that there is no way that MY plug-in is causing this, but my boss of course would never believe that.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016 9:26 PM


All replies

  • Hi Josh,

    >> very occasionally and seemingly at random (and it's never happened to me) one of my users will complain that the Message tab is missing when they read an email

    Could you share us when will this issue happen? We may need to know how to reproduce this issue in user’s computer to narrow down this issue.

    To check whether this issue is related with your add-in or others, I suggest you make some tests in non-worked PC below:

    1. Uncheck your add-ins in Com Add-ins, if this issue still exist, I assume it is not related with your add-in
    2. Uncheck all other add-ins except yours, if it still exist, I assume it is related with your add-in
    3. I suggest you try to find in which scenario this issue happened.

    In addition, it would be helpful if you could share us Ribbon xml and related Ribbon code.

    Best Regards,


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    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 2:16 AM
  • I wish it were as simple as all of that. It's not regularly reproducible. Completely random. We could go a month without seeing it, and other times a user will have it happen 15 times in one day.

    I've tried what you're describing. And was never able to reproduce it enough to confirm which plug-in could be causing the issue. And, again, it's never happened to me. 

    My hope is that somebody here understands the inner workings of the ribbon rendering to know a specific scenario which could cause this to happen.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 1:58 PM
  • Unfortunately, psychic debugging will be of little use here.

    From your description of the situation, including that there is more than one add-in being loaded on a customer's system, it isn't clear which add-in is the culprit.  And since you cannot reproduce the issue it is incumbent on the customer to participate in the investigation.  Perhaps the customer whose systems frequently experiencing the phenomenon can follow the enable/disable suggestion in an attempt to identify the misbehaving add-in.

    • Edited by RLWA32 Wednesday, June 29, 2016 2:23 PM
    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 2:22 PM
  • I appreciate the help, but we're trying to solve the wrong problem. I should not have put that bit in there questioning whether or not it's my plug-in. That's an aside. Let's assume that it IS my plug-in. What are the next steps?

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 2:53 PM
  • Assumptions are irrelevant if you cannot reproduce the errant behavior for investigation.  The next order of business is fact finding, and that cannot be done in a vacuum.
    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 3:03 PM
  • I agree. It's a tough nut to crack.

    When it happens to users, they can even close the email and reopen it and there's fairly decent chance the second time they open the email the message tab will be there. They could close and reopen an email 6 times and the message tab will be gone, but the 7th time it will be there. They could open 30 different emails with the message tab showing, but the 31st it might be gone. No rhyme or reason to it that I can tell. 

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 3:50 PM
  • I suggest you obtain the other add-ins that your customer is using and install them to your test system in an attempt to recreate the customer environment as closely as possible.  If the problem is not your add-in, but is related to some other add-in or a conflict between your product and some other I think that is the only way you can reproduce the issue for diagnosis.  Otherwise, you are left with psychic debugging as the only option.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 4:38 PM
  • My customer is my company, and I develop on the company's image. So my environment is identical to theirs. 

    Frustrating. I'll leave this open to see if anybody has any anecdotal suggestions as something they've seen in their environment before. 

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 8:08 PM
  • This surely is a mystery. I wish you luck getting to the solution.
    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 8:27 PM
  • Hello Josh,

    Typically if an exception is fired in any callback the tab will not be shown. So, if any add-in customizes the built-in tab and fires exceptions in the code, the tab will not be visible. The first step is to disable all Outlook add-ins. Enabling them one-by-one can help to find which add-in causes the issue.

    Do you get any UI errors in Outlook in that case?

    See How to: Show Add-in User Interface Errors for more information about that.


    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 8:58 PM
  • Thanks, I will check.

    My assumption has always been that there could be some issue with some plug-in's custom ribbon callbacks. I have wrapped all of my callback methods in try/catch, but I experience this on the form that I do not adjust the ribbon on. That link is good information. I always assumed that the checkbox was on "custom forms" not on UI changes in general, such as the ribbon. I suppose that this is probably a change from 2007 to 2010 (and now 2013).

    I'm having a few people check that checkbox and we'll see if I get lucky.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 9:40 PM
  • If an add-in threw an unhandled exception wouldn't Outlook disable it? 
    • Edited by RLWA32 Wednesday, June 29, 2016 9:44 PM
    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 9:43 PM
  • In case of Ribbon callbacks - NO. A custom UI will be simply hidden with the tab where it resides.


    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 9:50 PM
  • Hi,

    I know this is a very old thread and this is a long-shot! but did anyone get this resolved? We are having the same issue in Office 365 - the message tab (and ribbon) is sometimes not displayed when opening emails. Only way to restore it is to restart outlook. 



    Wednesday, May 1, 2019 6:06 PM
  • We are seeing this issue as well.
    Monday, June 3, 2019 6:22 PM