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Stencil Mange - Mystery Stray Stencils Seem to Crash Visio

Started by Trinity, December 14, 2016, 08:09:46 AM

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At first this problem was contained to a large Visio file that I had created a few years ago, but it's happening more frequently with smaller, more recent files that (I don't believe) have that large file as a source.

I think of it as Stencil Mange. For a given Visio file that has this condition, stencils with shapes that I haven't used within the file are open within a separate window of that instance of Visio. If memory serves, Miscellaneous Flowchart Shapes is a culprit, and recently, Networking Shapes also seems to elicit crashing. That's the disturbing part. The number of corrupt stencils appears to be multiplying. Activities that lead to crashing include:

1. Clicking anything while Visio is loading the file, especially if Visio is trying to recover a file or files that went down the last time Visio crashed.
2. Using Alt + W to navigate to the window containing the evil stencil. 
3. Attempting to close the evil stencil and save the Visio file.

It's like Medusa. As long as I don't navigate to these stencils or look at them, I can do work and Visio can remain open for hours.

Any ideas what causes stencil mange and especially on how to stabilize the Visio files associated with this problem behavior? Right now my only hypothesis is that I often work with multiple Visio files and I'll rapidly navigate between them, using key commands, seemingly faster than it seems Visio can process the key strokes. Could something have gotten horrifically corrupted? If so, what's corrupted, the Visio file or the stencil?

Thanks in advance,

Paul Herber

Electronic and Electrical engineering, business and software stencils for Visio -


I don't know if this is a new version bug or not.   There are some tests you can try, and some observations...

1) With no other instance open, create a new Visio document, do some editing, open a stencil  two.  But, just limit to a single Visio instance.  Does the mange show up?  The goals: 
    (1)  verify Visio install is ok
    (2)  eliminate stencil issues.

Save and close.

2) Create a duplicate copy of one of your "infected" files.  Open the copy.  Problem still there?  Can you delete the stencils?  If so, save, close exit Visio.  Re-launch Visio with newly saved file.  Still good?

3)  if ok, now launch file from step (1).  Do some editing.  Still ok?  Now bounce back and forth between instances and see if mange comes back.

There are other combinations of things to try...just be methodical.  You're trying to determine source of problem and eliminate possibilities.

Unless something e one already knows of a bug in the software.

Visio 2019 Pro


Hi Paul and Wapperdude,

I've been wrangling this - and unsuccessfully troubleshooting this for some time. I haven't made progress, unfortunately. Here are the things I know:

Visio 2016
Windows 10

This behavior is not observed on all my Visio files, which implies it's limited to the corrupted files, not the installation (?). When I resave the corrupted file to a new file, stencil mange will follow. It's still there when I close and reopen a file. Fwiw, I suspect this problem occurred from putting my computer in sleep mode, while I had a large (around 100 page) unsaved Visio file open. I also suspect that when non-corrupted files get crashed due to another concurrently-open, mange-having file crashing, the non-corrupted file inherits the mange.

Hopefully that made a little sense.

More facts -
When a corrupted file is open, three "mange" stencils open in [Read Only] mode with this file. The mange stencils are open as independent windows, from the View>Switch Windows dropdown. I have other stencils open within the Shapes panel; the mange stencils are the only ones that are presented as Read Only, and in this way. Sometimes when I close the parent file, sometimes, I'm able to view the Read Only stencil in its own window on screen, without crashing Visio. I can navigate to the File Menu, and Visio will usually crash after that.

The three mange stencils are:
Miscellaneous Flowchart Shapes
Network & Peripherals
Network & Peripherals - 3D

I used these stencils a long time ago, but these files do not utilize any of the shapes in these stencils.

As mentioned, I can see these stencils listed in My View>Switch Windows list. As long as I never navigate to view the read only stencils, the parent Visio file can stay up without crashing.

Upon viewing one of the "bad stencils", Visio will do the following:
Valiantly pull up the file that crashed (the stencil)
Crash again until I make it stop.

Opening the corrupted file directly from a file directory is reliable and stable.

A) Is there some code-based way to open associated shapes/stencils associated with a Visio file, and manually close them?
B) Could I surgically remove these three stencils from my Visio installation, and if so, how? I'm not working at a hardware or chip company now, so I don't need them....
C) Even if I do A or B, how can I prevent mange from re-occurring?

Thank you ever so much,


Have you tried uninstalling and re-installing Visio?

The behavior of the 3 stencils sounds like they're being launched independently, not called like normal stencils after Visio has launched.  The Read-Only is a normal behavior.  I don't have V2016, but this does seem like a unique problem isolated to your installation. 

The other thing you can try is modifying the stencil suffix, rather than deleting the stencils.  Go to the Microsoft Office directory, then down into the OfficeXX, where XX is a number that is associated with Visio installation.  Then, down into the 1033 folder.  For each misbehaving stencil, change the .VSS to .SSV.  Visio will ignore those files, and you'll have them if you need them.


The others I'm not sure about as I only have standard version.

Visio 2019 Pro


Thank you very much. I'll submit the request to reinstall first, to eliminate that possibility. I'll post an update as to how it goes.


Paul Herber

Can you post a screenshot showing the troublesome stencils. Could you also post the actual file here?
Electronic and Electrical engineering, business and software stencils for Visio -


Hi there,
Since I last wrote, I've been nurturing the hypothesis that stencil mange occurs when either of the following conditions are true. Uninstalling and reinstalling does not appear to have an effect on the affected files; unaffected files are happy as clams.

  • Visio crashes with unsaved files open
  • A Windows update occurs when Visio is open with an unsaved file.

I've had some luck with the following procedure for cleaning a file with mange, but it is slow, and I'm hoping there might be a faster procedure.

1) Close the second open stencil from the top of the list (or sometimes it seems that Visio is looking for some other stencil - I admit it may be superstitious blind man's bluff, but it seems that the top stencil almost always crashes)
2) Save the parent Visio document.
3) Close Visio.
4) Re-open parent Visio document.
5) Repeat.

In the attached file, there appear to be more than 13 stencils open (I see 17 open stencils when I hover above Visio in the Windows Task bar, but no matter how many of the stencils I've closed, using the above procedure, thirteen stencils are displayed in the Select Window display, though the order of stencils appears to be updated as I close stencils, suggesting I am making progress in closing it, no matter how whack-a-mole it seems to be.

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