I had created list workflows with SharePoint 2013 templates almost 2 years before from today in client's SharePoint Online tenant using SharePoint designer.

Recently, when I have tried to edit this workflow using SharePoint 2013 designer, it gives below errors:

  • For the first time, when you try to click on workflow it shows:

    server side activities have been updated you need to restart sharepoint designer

  • After traversing back to workflows folder, and click on workflow it shows:

    windows workflow foundation part of .net framework 3.0 must be installed to use this feature

  • Then it shows error:

    SharePoint Designer cannot display the item. enter image description here

I am using SharePoint designer 2013 with 64 bit. I already have installed/updated designer with below installations:

  • SP Designer SP1
  • spd2013-kb2863836-fullfile-x64-glb.exe
  • spd2013-kb3114337-fullfile-x64-glb.exe
  • spd2013-kb3114721-fullfile-x64-glb.exe

Also tried solutions provided in below URLs, but none of them work:

Strangely, when I tried to create a new workflow on same list, it works properly but for older workflows, it's not working.

I have checked same in development and production sites and in both sites, we are getting this issue. Even I have tried SharePoint designers on different machines but the error is same.

Please let me know if there is any solution to resolve this.

Note: I am very much aware with the policy of duplicating the questions in the forum, but the answers posted in forum were not worked for me that's why I have posted this new question. So please take a note before marking this question as duplicate.

2 Answers 2


Though I was clearing cache by removing files/folders from the paths suggested in many of the answers, I was not able to open workflow in designer. Even I have tried to remove cache using PowerShell but no luck.

Then I got one link, and I followed the steps to disable SharePoint designer cache completely and it works for me.

Here are the steps I followed so far:

  • Open SharePoint designer, Navigate to the “File” menu.
  • Then go to Options >> General >> Application Options.
  • On the "General" tab, under the "General" heading, deselect "Cache site data across SharePoint Designer sessions"

    • In my case, I have also deselect "Preload site data during the site open process"

    enter image description here

  • restart the designer.

It worked for me.


In SharePoint online, there is the Workflow auto cleanup timer job, it will delete tasks and instances in the workflow instance table for workflows that were marked completed more than n days in the past.

The n is specified in the workflow association.

So, the previous workflow cannot be opened in SharePoint designer.

More reference:

Default timer jobs in SharePoint 2013. It also can work for sharepoint online.

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