VBA initialization failed

Error Message

This article pertains to ArcGIS versions 9.x. Later versions of ArcGIS may contain different functionality, as well as different names and locations for menus, commands and geoprocessing tools.

When attempting to open ArcMap, the following error message is returned:

"VBA initialization failed".


The file, gdiplus.dll, exists within the C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\bin directory.

Solution or Workaround

Support for Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) for ArcMap and ArcCatalog ended with the ArcGIS 10.2.2 release, and Esri has not included VBA compatibility setups since version 10.5. See: ArcGIS Desktop and VBA Moving Forward
  1. Navigate to C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\bin.
  2. Locate gdiplus.dll, and rename it to old_gdiplus.dll; this forces ArcMap to use the Windows GDI drivers.
  3. Re-enable Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) in the registry if it was disabled.
The instructions below include making changes to essential parts of your operating system. It is recommended that you backup your operating system and files, including the registry, before proceeding. Consult with a qualified computer systems professional, if necessary. 

ESRI cannot guarantee results from incorrect modifications while following these instructions. Therefore, use caution and proceed at your own risk.

To re-enable VBA in the registry:

  1. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ESRI\ArcMap\Settings
  2. Double-click the PreloadVBA variable and set the Value data to 0 from 1.
If the PreloadVBA has a value of 0; VBA is not loaded (disabled) when ArcMap starts. If the PreloadVBA has a value of 1; VBA is loaded (enabled) when ArcMap starts.
  1. Open ArcMap.
  2. If ArcMap opens and the VBA Editor is enabled, delete the gdiplus.dll file that was renamed in step 2.

Article ID:000010214

  • ArcMap 9 x

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