This hack offers a systematic approach to fixing common frustrations. You can solve a number of common Word problems using the same systematic approach. Typical symptoms include:
- Missing toolbars
- Word crashes repeatedly
- Word freezes right after opening
- Any strange Word behavior unrelated to a particular document
There are three likely culprits: your Normal template, an add-in, or a corrupt data key in your registry. Additionally, extraneous temporary files can contribute to the problems.
If you run Word 2002 or 2003, Microsoft offers troubleshooting templates for automating most of this process. You can find the Word 2002 template here
, and the Word 2003 template here
. Delete any temporary files
Whenever you open a document, Word creates a temporary file to store various information about the document. Word usually deletes these temporary files when you close the document, but they can overstay their welcome and occasionally cause real trouble when Word or Windows crashes.
The easiest way to delete your temporary files is from Windows Explorer:
- Close any open Windows applications.
- Click an empty spot on the taskbar and press F3 to open the Search feature in Windows Explorer.
- Make sure you look in your primary hard drive and check Include Subfolders.
- Type the following in the Named box, as shown in figure 5:
- Click the Search button.
- Delete the files listed in the search results.
Figure 5: Searching for obsolete temporary files.
Sometimes people (or programs) include a tilde (~) in filenames, usually to force a file to the top of the folder list. Before you delete all of the files returned by the search, first make sure they're really temporary files. If the problem persists, you need to check the templates Word loads when it starts. Start Word with a clean slate
Every time you start Word, your Normal template loads, along with any add-ins in your Startup folder. You can also tell Word to start up without loading any templates:
- Start Word from the Start > Run menu by typing: winword.exe /a
Now press Enter. Note the space before the /a. This starts Word without any add-ins, global templates, or Normal.dot. If that fixes the problem, continue to step 2. Otherwise, you can skip ahead to the next section.
- Close Word.
- Use the Windows Find feature to locate Normal.dot:
Depending on your version of Windows, Normal.dot may be a hidden system folder. In Windows Explorer, select Tools > Folder options, click the View tab, and check the "Show hidden files and folders" box.
- Click an empty spot on the taskbar and press F3 to display the Search window again.
- Make sure you're searching your primary hard drive and check Include Subfolders.
- Type Normal.dot in the Named box and click the Search button.
- Right-click Normal.dot in the search results and rename it Normal.old.
- Restart Word.
When you delete or rename your Normal.dot file, Word creates a new one based on default settings. If the problem goes away, you had a corrupt Normal template. If not, check any other templates that load when you start Word. Disable other global templates and Com add-ins
If your Normal template wasn't at fault, try your other global templates and add-ins next:
- Find out what, if any, global templates and add-ins Word loads when it starts. To do so, locate your Startup folder (usually C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\Startup).
- Move each of these out of the Startup folder.
- Close Word and drag each add-in back into the Startup folder, one at a time. Open, test, then close Word after each one. When and if the problem reappears, you will have located the add-in causing the problem. If the problem persists, you may have a corrupt data key in your registry.