Why does my computer freeze when using Microsoft Word?

Posted By : Henry of Katharine Gibbs School - New York on December 14, 2004

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I have a very frustrating problem. I can not use any Microsoft products without my computer freezing up. I can not even shut the computer off without unpluging it. These include, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher, and Windows Media Player. I have the following new software installed.

Norton Anti Virus 2005

Earthlink Total Access 2005 Internet Access

I did a windows re-install just recently and had to reinstall all original software that came with my Dell computer. Seems like since I've done this, along with upgrading the above software, I've had this problem. Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you!


This question was answered on December 14, 2004. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Basically, there are five things you need to understand in order to troubleshoot and fix most of your Word problems.

1 Word stores most of its format settings and global macros in your global template, called normal.dot.

2 Word has a Startup folder, which holds add-ins and macros that start automatically when Word is launched.

3 Toolbars and some other macro settings are recorded in a Registry key called "Data".

4 Proofing Tools, like the spell checker and grammar checker, are stored in a Registry key called "Proofing Tools" and also in a Microsoft Shared folder on your hard drive called "Proof"

5 Within a document, paragraph formatting is stored in the paragraph marker at the end of that paragraph and paragraph formatting that pertains to the entire document is stored in the final paragraph marker at the end of the document.

If Word is not launching for you at all or is crashing or freezing as soon as it comes on the screen, odds are your global template is corrupt or something is loading automatically in your Word Startup folder that is misconfigured or corrupt To see if it's a corrupt global template or some add-in that is loading on startup, go to your Start button and click on Run In the Run box, type "winword.exe /a" (without the quotes, but WITH the space before the slash) If Word launches OK, then it probably is either a bad normal.dot file or a corrupt add-in (since this switch launches Word with a clean, empty template and no add-ins) To get yourself a new, uncorrupt template, simply close Word and search your computer for normal.dot and rename or delete it (If you find more than one, rename or delete ALL of them.) When you launch Word again, it will look for normal.dot and if it can't find it, it will create a new one

TIP: If you are using Windows XP, normal.dot is a hidden system file and may not show when you search for it If you can't find it, go into My Computer and click on the Tools menu and choose Folder Options In there, click on the View Tab and put a check where it says "Show hidden files and folders" and UNCHECK "Hide extensions for known file types" and "Hide protected operating system files" Now, when you search for it, you should find it If you still can't find it (because Windows XP's Search utility is FULL of bugs), look for it here:

C:\Documents and Settings\<your user name>\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates

ANOTHER TIP: Since normal.dot holds all of your format and text defaults, if you have things in your new blank document that you don't want (text, font type, etc.), the above instructions will also remove that But remember, removing normal.dot causes Word to create a new BLANK one, so you lose ALL of your default settings and will have to recreate them.

If this does NOT cause Word to launch correctly, then you need to look inside Word's Startup Folder and see if there are any add-ins in there that could be causing the problem This folder is usually located at C:\Windows\ Application data\ Microsoft\ Word\ Startup (Or if you run Windows 2000/XP or have multiple Windows profiles, look in your user profile or all users for your application data folder Or, if all else fails, search your hard drive for startup and you will find it.) If there are any files in there, move them all to another location and see if Word launches If it does, then move the files back one at a time until you find the culprit

For Microsoft Publisher, is it 2002? If it is read this web site:


About the author

Posted by Henry of Katharine Gibbs School - New York on December 14, 2004

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