How to start Microsoft Word in Safe Mode

If your Microsoft Word is giving you problems while opening Word documents, you might need to start Word in Safe Mode.Doing this will help you troubleshoot and fix any problems you may be facing.

Start Microsoft Word in Safe Mode

To start Word in safe mode, press the CTRL key and then click on a Word document to open. You will see the following dialog box.

word safe mode How to start Microsoft Word in Safe Mode

Once you have clicked on Yes, Word will open in safe mode.

Alternatively, you can type winword.exe /safe in Start Search and hit Enter, to start Word in safe mode. This is User Initiated Safe Mode.

The following restrictions apply when you start Word in User-initiated Office Safe Mode:

  • No templates can be saved.
  • The Office Assistant is not automatically displayed.
  • Toolbar or command bar customizations are not loaded and customizations cannot be saved.
  • The AutoCorrect list is not loaded and changes are not saved.
  • Recovered documents are not automatically opened.
  • Smart tags are not loaded and new tags cannot be saved.
  • All command line options are ignored except “/a” and “/n”.
  • Files cannot be saved to the Alternate Startup Directory.
  • Preferences cannot be saved.
  • Additional features and programs are not automatically loaded.
  • Additionally, in Word 2003, documents with restricted permission cannot be created or opened.

With Office Safe Mode, you can use Word after it has encountered startup problems. When a problem is detected at startup, the Automated Office Safe Mode either fixes the problem or isolates the problem. Therefore, you can start Word successfully.

During the startup of Word, Office Safe Mode checks for problems such as an add-in or an extension that does not start. Office Safe Mode also checks for a corrupted resource, for a corrupted file, for a corrupted registry, or for a corrupted template.

If Word encounters a problem during startup, you may receive an error message that is similar to one of the following the next time that you start Word:

  • Word failed to start correctly last time. Starting Word in safe mode will help you correct or isolate a startup problem to successfully start the program. Some functionality may be disabled in this mode. Do you want to start Word in safe mode?
  • Word has detected a problem with some of the current preferences. Would you like to restore these preferences to their default values?
  • Word has determined that a recent problem occurred while using description. Would you like to disable description?

The Office Safe Mode options to resolve the problem vary, depending on the cause of the problem. As a temporary solution, Office Safe Mode may prompt you to:

  • Prevent the loading of add-ins, templates, or documents by putting them on the Disabled Items list.
  • Reset registry keys back to their default values.
  • Reset the global template (Normal.dot) back to its default values.

As was mentioned here earlier, these switches may help you troubleshoot and repair Microsoft Word:

  • To simply reset the Word registry values to default type winword /r in start search and hit Enter
  • To prevent Word from loading the macros type winword /m and hit Enter
  • To prevent Word from loading its add-ins, type winword /a and hit Enter.

You can see the complete list of command line switches for Microsoft Word 2010 here.

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Anand Khanse aka HappyAndyK is an end-user Windows enthusiast, a Microsoft MVP in Windows, since 2006, and the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com. Please create a System Restore Point before trying out any software & be careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware. Add me on Google+.
  • http://www.mswordhelp.com mike.smith @ microsoft word help

    Safe mode in Windows and MS Word is not very pleasant thing and should serve solely to get rid of the problem.

    I have an experience that more complex documents with macros etc. created in safe mode were not working properly after the problem was solved and MS Word started to run normally. If you must, then try to save your files in rtf format.

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