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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Real Reinstallation of Office

Remember back when you used to be able to uninstall an application and it really was uninstalled? Me neither. So, here’s a good way to make sure that Office is really gone without having to completely destroy your Windows installation.

In days gone by, Microsoft included utilities to uninstall Office completely. As of Office XP, they no longer make these utilities and promise that the uninstaller does a thorough job. Well, since it doesn’t, I came up with a clean way to remove almost all of the actual application’s settings so that you can really reinstall Office.

Step 1: Backup your activation

If you’re using Office XP or 2003, you know that you only get so many activations. Well, since activation’s a hassle, there is a way to backup your activation record so you don’t have to go through the hassle. Here’s what you do:

  1. After installing and activating Office XP/2003 for the first time, turn on your “Show all files and folders” option (In Folder Options > View tab)
  2. Browse to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\Office\Data
    1. (This location is for Windows 2000/XP, but varies for 9x versions of Windows).
  3. Find the file called Data.dat. It should be about 4KB in size. Copy it to a floppy, a CD, a network drive, or another safe place.
  4. After reinstalling Office on the same hardware, restore Data.dat to the location where you found it. Open any Office XP program and voila!
Note: This process does not allow you to transfer your activation to another computer. And you’re not doing anything illegal here, so don’t think that Mafia-soft will come after you for wanting to use an application that you purchased from them.

Step 2: Backup your data

Hey, better safe than sorry. Consider things like your, etc. Come on, it’s just a good excuse to do a backup.

Step 3: Basic removal

Uninstall Office. You know, just the regular way though Add/Remove Programs. If you can't do this, then just move on. It'll be gone soon enough.

Step 4: Heart Surgery

Rename (or delete if you feel comfortable) the following folder (will be called Office 10" for Office 2002/XP, "Office 11" for 2003, etc.):

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office

This contains the actual application of Office, but not the clip gallery or templates.

Step5: Brain Surgery
  1. Start > Run
  2. type regedit and hit enter
  3. Rename (or delete) the following registry keys:
These hold the settings for Word. Bye Bye customizations.

Step 6: Put it back, put it back!

Now, just reinstall Office as you normally would.

Step 7: Remember me?

Restore your activation file (see Step 1 for the location).

Step 8: Updates

It’s a good idea to see if you can install the latest service packs for your version of Office. It might help prevent future problems and/or replace problematic files that are left after the normal uninstall and these steps.

Office 2000 SP1
Office 2000 SP2
Office 2000 SP3

Office XP SP1

Office XP SP2
Office XP SP3

Office 2003 SP1
Office 2003 SP2

These are all easily obtainable through Office Update.

NOTE: Sorry if these links are broken. Microsoft has a nasty habit of rearranging their website. Since you know what you need, just use your new best friend,, or perhaps


Anonymous said...

I was wondering how to manually reinstall office! I couldn't uninstall it from the CD, but needed to to fix some issues. I'm running okay now thanks to you!

傅泽西 said...


Love your guide, but do you have a process for Office 2007?
I'm getting rid of Vista and want to install XP on my laptop instead, so the file locations might not be the same....

Dave said...

Good question. I have not yet tried this with Office 2007. I will say this about it: Office 2007 follows the same installation pattern as previous versions. Just pop a '12' in for any version that you see listed above (e.g. '9/10/11'). Everything else should be the same!

Anonymous said...

What about the Office Removal Tool? Do you ever use that?

Dave said...

You know, I didn't mention Eraser97 or Eraser 2K, mostly because they're dated (don't work on current versions). I always hesitated to use Eraser because I couldn't really tell exactly what it was doing. It just seemed unsafe - that's why Microsoft discontinued them. But, if nothing else worked when troubleshooting the older versions, I'd use it if I had nothing to lose.