How to Fix It When Microsoft Word Is Not Responding

Repair and save your document

Microsoft Word not responding usually appears either as an error message or as a complete freeze of the Word graphical user interface. When you experience this glitch, either close the program or wait for the program to respond.

These suggestions apply to Microsoft Word for Office 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2010, and Word for Mac.

Pro Word Cloud App or Add-in for Microsoft Word

Cause of Microsoft Word Not Responding Messages

You'll most often encounter a "Microsoft Word is not responding" message for one of several reasons:

  • A failure to open, save, or access a document hosted on a remote server, often arising from a server timeout.
  • A damaged program file.
  • An incompatible add-in.

How to Fix Microsoft Word Not Responding

Sometimes the answer is as simple as restarting the computer. If this approach doesn't resolve the problem, disabling add-ins and possibly repairing the program are the best courses of action.

  1. Start Word in Safe Mode. Loading the application without templates and add-ins allows you to see if the program works as it should or if it is corrupted.

  2. Disable add-ins. If "Word not responding" is not an error in Safe Mode, an incompatible add-in is a likely culprit.

    1. Select File > Options > Add-ins to open Word Options.
    2. Choose the Go button under Manage near the bottom of the window to open the COM Add-ins dialog box.
    3. Clear the check boxes next to each add-in to disable all add-ins.
    4. Select OK to apply the changes and close the dialog box.

    If the "Word not responding" error message no longer appears, enable each add-in one at a time, and restart Word after each one to determine which one caused the problem.

  3. Repair the document. If the error appears when you open or save a specific Word file, that document might be corrupted. Use a tool within Word to fix it.

  4. Repair Word. In Windows 10, open the Settings app and select Apps & Features. Select Microsoft Office from the app list, select Modify, then follow the options to repair Office programs.

  5. Uninstall and reinstall Word. You'll need your Microsoft ID and Product Key. Remove it through Windows Settings or download the MS Office Uninstall Support Tool to remove it completely. On a Mac, drag it into the trash and reinstall it.

    Uninstalling Office from your computer only removes the Office applications you installed. Files, documents, and workbooks are not removed.

  • Why is spell check not working in Word?

    If spell check isn't working in Word, make sure spell check is turned on, check the proofing language, and check for proofing exceptions. If you still have problems, try opening Word in Safe Mode or disabling add-ons one at a time.

  • How do I fix it when a Word file won't open?

    If a Word file won't open, check the file association. Right-click the file, select Open With, and choose Microsoft Word. To repair a damaged file in Word, go to File > Open > Browse, and highlight the file you want. Select the Open drop-down arrow, then choose Open and Repair.

  • How do I fix Word not responding without losing data?

    After closing Word, reopen the program and try to recover the unsaved document. Go to File > Manage Documents > Recover Unsaved Documents, or go to File > Open > Browse and search for a backup of the file. You can also go to Windows Explorer and look for any recovered or temp files.

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