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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Basic Word Troubleshooting

While I couldn't list all of the ways in which Word can fail to work, I can give you the basic thought process when troubleshooting Word.

Step 1. Word Vs. The document

The first thing you have to do if you're having a problem with a particular document is point a finger. How often do you get to do that first? This can be simply done by trying to reproduce the problem in a new document. If you can, Word's to blame. If you can't, see my other post about troubleshooting damaged documents.

Step 2. Try Word safe mode

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Run
  3. Type Winword /a
  4. Hit Enter
Can you reproduce the problem? If not see my other post on How to Clean Word.

I have seen instances where following all of these steps (and a few more that I haven't listed) doesn't fix the problem, but it still works in Word safe mode. Well, try bypassing your shortcuts
  1. Click Start
  2. Click Run
  3. Type Winword
  4. Hit Enter
One time I spent over an hour doing basic troubleshooting when it just turned out that the guy's shortcut was bad. We created a new one and we were done.

Step 3. Try Windows safe mode

Windows safe mode can do a couple of things for you. First, it bypasses the video and second, it bypasses most Windows startup processes. So, if it works in Windows safe mode, first try updating your video driver. If it still doesn't work, move on to Step 3.

Step 4: A clean boot

msconfig is probably one of the best inventions in the world - when it comes to integrated troubleshooting utilities :) Too bad Windows 2000 didn't get it. But, there's hope.

Here's the boring Microsoft version of how to use the System Configuration Utility.

Of course, you could always look at my snazzy article.

And, if msconfig isn't big and bad enough, you can also try Mark Russinovish's Autoruns.

Step 5: A new printer

Don't scoff. Word uses the printer for a lot of things. What good would a pretty document do if your printer couldn't handle it. Now, we're not playing the Document Survival Game here, so we won't philosophically answer all of the "what-if"s.
  1. Try installing a generic/text only printer. In your Add Printer Wizard,
  2. add a local printer (even if you're on a network)
  3. Under manufacturers, select Generic
  4. Keep the default printer selected when you choose the Generic manufacturer
  5. Keep all of the rest of the defaults (no test page needed, though)
  6. Make sure it's your default printer
Does Word work now? If so, you've got a printer issue. A simple delete and reinstall of your printer should take care of the problem.

Step 6: A different profile

The next step is to see if the problem is specific to just one user on the computer. If multiple users across a network are having a problem and you know it's not the document (keep in mind, multiple documents can go bad), then the problem is somewhere in your interface with the network. That's beyond this article, sorry. ("Trouble? Shoot your computer", not "Trouble? Shoot your network").

If it works okay in a different profile, then you can cut your losses and get back to work or spend up to several more hours trying to figure out why it's broken.

Step 7: Detect and Repair

Detect and repair is like a "lite" reinstall. It examines versions, etc. and fixes what the installer sees as a problem. Hey, it works sometimes and it's faster than Step 8.
  1. Open Word
  2. Click Help > Detect and Repair
  3. Check all the boxes in the dialog
  4. Click OK
Step 8: Really Reinstall

See my super-duper "Really-install" article for details.

NOTE: these next few steps are XP specific. I'll assume that you can Google the right words to find the equivalents if you have another version of Windows.

Step 9: Repair XP

Rather than repeat what's been said, have a look at this:

Step 10: In-place upgrade of XP

Kinda like a repair, but better:

Step 11: Clean Windows Install

The Elder Geek to the rescue:

Of course, if a clean install of Windows doesn't fix the problem, then you're likely looking at a hardware issue (either with the computer, or the network).

Step 12: Get Open Office

Hey, this fixes almost every problem you'll ever have with Microsoft Office :)

Step 13: A Virus

Lastly, don't ever rule out a virus causing you problems. Not all antivirus programs will find Word macros (Norton and McAfee do). Update your antivirus and give the computer a thorough scan. You might also consider running something like Spybot Search and Destroy.


Anonymous said...

This list is awesome! Thanks for your help. I never understood how much windows stuff word needed to run.

mahasiswa teladan said...

hi..Im student from Informatics engineering, this article is very informative, thanks for sharing :)

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