How to know when an add-in might be causing Word to behave unexpectedly

How to know when an add-in might be causing Word to behave unexpectedly

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Because there are many ways to customize Microsoft Office Word, there is an uncounted number of add-ins available for you to extend the capabilities of Word and to integrate Word with other programs. Sometimes, however, an add-in might be causing problems for you. Consider the following symptoms.

  • When you try to quit Word, you get a runtime error.
  • When you try to close a document, you get a runtime error.
  • When you open a document, the mouse doesn't work in Word.
  • When you double-click to open a document, Word opens but the document doesn't.

These are just a handful of the symptoms that are due to known issues with popular add-ins for Word. Problems with add-ins are one of the top reasons customers call the Microsoft Commercial Office System Support Team for help with Word.

So why does this happen? Perhaps the add-in was developed using an earlier version of Word. Or perhaps the add-in is competing with other add-ins for Word's attention. Either way, the add-in might never have been tested in the environment that you're using it in.

 

How to know whether an add-in might be causing the unexpected behavior

So how do you know whether the problem that you're experiencing might be a problem with an add-in and not with Word itself? One of the quickest ways to find out whether an add-in might be causing an issue is to start Word using a switch.

START WORD USING THE /A SWITCH

  1. In Windows click Start and click Run to open the Run dialog.
  2. Type "WINWORD.EXE /a" (without the quotes) and click OK.

If Word behaves normally when you start it in this way, an incompatible add-in might be the cause.

 

I have an add-in? How did it get there?

You might ask, "How can this be? I didn't install any add-ins." The answer is that some specialized programs install add-ins for the Microsoft Office System to help you integrate those programs with Office. However, the add-ins might not be compatible with the version of Word that you're using.

 

How to figure out which add-in might be causing the problem

The first place to look is the list of COM add-ins that are loaded when you start Word.

 

VIEW THE LIST OF COM ADD-INS FOR WORD

You can view the list of COM add-ins that have been installed for Word in the COM Add-Ins dialog.

NOTE: Some COM add-ins that have been installed might not be listed in the COM Add-Ins dialog. I'll address this later.

Word 2003 and earlier versions

  1. Start Word normally.
  2. On the Tools menu click Customize to open the Customize dialog.
  3. In the Customize dialog click the Commands tab.
  4. In the Categories list select Tools.
  5. In the Commands list click COM Add-Ins and drag the command to a toolbar.
  6. Click Close to close the Customize dialog.
  7. Click the COM Add-Ins button on the toolbar to open the COM Add-Ins dialog. The active COM add-ins will be listed and selected in the "Add-Ins available" list.

Word 2007

  1. Start Word normally.
  2. Click the Office button and click Word Options to open the Word Options dialog.
  3. Click Add-Ins to display the Add-ins options.
  4. In the Manage list select COM Add-ins and click Go to open the COM Add-Ins dialog. The active COM add-ins will be listed and selected in the "Add-Ins available" list.

 

DISABLE THE COM ADD-IN

In the COM Add-Ins dialog, you can clear the checkbox for the add-in and click OK to disable the add-in if the add-in has been installed only for the current user. If the add-in has been installed for all users on the computer, the add-in might not be listed in the COM Add-Ins dialog at all; you will need to view the list of add-ins in the registry and then you will need to modify a registry entry for the add-in to disable it.

WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

Disable the COM add-in in the registry

  1. With Office programs closed, in Windows click Start and click Run to open the Run dialog.
  2. Type "REGEDIT" (without the quotes) and click OK.
  3. Browse to the following registry key.

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Office\Word\Addins

    The COM add-ins that have been installed for Word for all users on the computer will be listed.

    Right-click the Addins key and choose Export to save a copy of the key for backup purposes. You can double-click the .reg file later to restore the registry entries to their original values, if necessary. (NOTE: This will also restore the problem that you're experiencing. A best practice is to delete the .reg file when you have completed troubleshooting so that you don't accidentally restore the problem in the future.)

  4. Select the registry key for an add-in. The registry entries for that key will be listed for the add-in. One of the registry entries will be named LoadBehavior.
  5. Right-click the LoadBehavior entry and click Modify. The Edit DWORD Value dialog will be displayed. Write down the add-in name and the value displayed in the "Value data" field so that you can restore the value after you finish troubleshooting.
  6. In the Edit DWORD Value dialog, type a zero "0" (without the quotes) in the "Value data" field and click OK.
  7. Start Word normally. If Word behaves normally then the add-in that you changed the LoadBehavior for was causing the issue.

 

VIEW THE LIST OF TEMPLATE ADD-INS FOR WORD

Not all add-ins are COM add-ins. There are many add-ins for Word that are simply Word Document Template (*.dot) or—in the case of Word 2007—Word Macro-Enabled Template (*.dotm) files that have been installed into one of the Startup folders for Word. By default, the Startup folders for Word are in the following locations.

 

Word 2003 on Windows XP

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\Startup
C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\Startup

 

Word 2003 on Windows Vista

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\Startup
C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word\Startup

 

Word 2007 on Windows XP

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\Startup
C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\Startup

 

Word 2007 on Windows Vista

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\Startup
C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word\Startup

 

 

DISABLE THE TEMPLATE ADD-IN

One at a time, rename the Word Document Template (*.dot) or Word Macro-Enabled Template (*.dotm) files in those locations to include the file extension ".old" (without the quotes) and then start Word normally. If Word then behaves normally, the file that you last renamed is the add-in that was causing the issue.

 

What next?

Perhaps you've found an add-in that is causing Word to exhibit unexpected behavior. What next? You'll need to contact the company or developer who created the add-in to see whether it can be updated for you.

 

More information

See the following Microsoft Knowledge Base articles for more information.

Author for the Post: - Ryan Christiansen

Comments
  • Nothing you people ever do is in the best interest of customers.

  • where is the information for word 2012? this article needs updating.

  • My problem is not in addressed here; The article does not address problems with WORD 2010.  When I attempt to save the file I get the error message "A file error has occurred" and the file will not save.  The file contains multiple figures, equations and internal links.  

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