What to Do When Microsoft Word Won’t Open on WindowsReading Time: 4 minutes
Get Microsoft Word working again on Windows.
Microsoft Word is a popular program for creating and editing documents. Although Microsoft has greatly improved its word processor over the years, it is still prone to occasional hiccups and errors. One such instance is when Microsoft Word fails to open on your Windows computer.
Fortunately, there are some quick fixes you can use to regain access to Microsoft Word. So, let’s check them out.
1. Force Close Word Using Windows Task Manager
If Microsoft Word encounters any issues while opening, it may fail to load its graphical user interface (GUI). When this happens, subsequent attempts to open Word will also fail as the program is already active in the background. If that’s the case, you can force-close Word using the Task Manager and then try to open it again.
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager (see how to open the Task Manager for more ways).
- In the Processes tab, locate Microsoft Word. Right-click on it and select End task.
Close the Task Manager window and try to open Microsoft Word again.
2. Open Word in Safe Mode and Disable Add-Ins
Your next option is to launch Microsoft Word in safe mode, where it will run without any add-ins or extensions. This should help you determine if a faulty add-in is interfering with Word’s startup process.
There are several methods for starting Word in safe mode, but the easiest one is through the Run dialog box. Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box, type in winword /safe, and hit Enter.
If Word opens as usual in safe mode, it means one of your third-party add-ins is responsible for the issue. To identify the one causing the issue, you’ll need to disable all your add-ins and enable them one by one.
To disable add-ins in Word:
- Launch Word in safe mode.
- Click the File menu in the top-left corner.
- Select Options from the left sidebar.
- In the Word Options window, switch to the Add-ins tab.
- In the right pane, select COM Add-ins from the Manage drop-down menu and then click the Go button next to it.
- Uncheck the boxes associated with the add-ins and click OK.
Close Microsoft Word and open it in normal mode. If Word runs without any problems, enable all your add-ins one at a time and restart the program after each one to identify the culprit.
3. Update Microsoft Office
Using an outdated version of the Office suite can also cause such anomalies. You can try installing pending Office updates to see if that improves the situation.
- Open any other Office app, such as Excel.
- Click the File menu in the top left corner.
- Select Accounts from the left pane.
- Click the Update Options drop-down menu and choose Update now from the list.
Wait for Office to download and install new updates.
While you are at it, you should also check Windows for any pending system updates. If it’s a system-related issue that’s preventing Microsoft Word from opening, installing the latest updates should help.
4. Turn Off Your Antivirus Program
Third-party antivirus programs can sometimes get too cautious and block Office apps on your computer. To overrule this possibility, disable your antivirus program and then try to launch Word again. Disabling a third-party antivirus program is as simple as right-clicking on its icon in the system tray and selecting the disable option from the context menu.
If this method works, you may have to tweak your antivirus program’s settings to fix the problem. Alternatively, you can switch to a different antivirus program altogether. If you need help deciding, check our guide on the best free antivirus programs for Windows.
5. Use Microsoft Office Repair Tool
Microsoft includes a dedicated Office repair tool that can fix most problems with Office apps, including the one discussed here.
The Office repair tool provides a couple of options: Quick repair and Online repair. Microsoft reckons you first run Quick Repair. If that doesn’t work, however, you can proceed with the Online repair option.
To access the Office repair tool on Windows, use these steps.
- Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box.
- Type control in the text box and press Enter.
- In the Control Panel window, use the drop-down menu in the top right corner to select Large icons.
- Click Programs and Features.
- In the following window, locate Microsoft Office on the list. Right-click on it and select Change.
- Select Yes when the User Account Control prompt appears.
- Select Quick Repair and hit the Repair button.
Wait for the process to complete and check if you can open Microsoft Word. If the problem persists, repeat the above steps to perform an Online Repair instead. As the name implies, this process requires an active internet connection. So, make sure your PC is connected to the internet.
6. Remove Word Registry Keys
Registry files on your computer contain important settings for all your programs, including Word. If some of the registry files associated with Microsoft Word are damaged or not configured correctly, the program may not open. To fix this, you’ll have to manually delete the Word data file using the Registry Editor.
Before you proceed, consider backing up all the registry files or creating a restore point. If you need help, refer to our guide on how to create a restore point on Windows and follow the steps outlined there.
To remove damaged Word registry keys using the Registry Editor:
- Click the search icon on the taskbar or press Win + S to open the search menu.
- Type registry editor in the search box and select the first result that appears.
- Select Yes when the User Account Control (UAC) prompt appears.
- Use the left pane to navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Office > [Version Number] > Word.
- Within the Word key, right-click the Data key and select Delete.
- Select Yes to confirm your choice.
Restart your PC after completing the above steps. Following that, Microsoft Word should open as usual.
Start Using Microsoft Word Again
Such issues with Microsoft Word can disrupt your workflow and keep you busy all day. Hopefully, one of the solutions in this guide has proven useful, and you’re able to use Microsoft Word as before.
If you’re fed up with dealing with Microsoft Word problems, you might want to think about switching to a Word alternative.