Use Safe Mode to Diagnose Microsoft Word Startup Issues

Find out what's wrong so you can fix it

Man with serious expression looking at laptop.

Bruce Mars / Unsplash

If you’re experiencing problems when you start Microsoft Word, safe mode will help you narrow down the source of the problem. Because Word loads the registry data key, the Normal.dot template, and all other add-ins or templates in the Office startup folder before you even realize something is wrong, the source of your problem will not be immediately apparent or readily accessible. Safe mode gives you a different way to start Word that doesn't load these elements.

Instructions in this article apply to Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word for Office 365 on Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

How to Start Microsoft Windows in Safe Mode

To find out if the problem lies with any of the aforementioned components, follow these steps to start Word in safe mode:

  1. Select Run from the Windows Start menu or press the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + R.

  2. Type winword /safe and select OK.

    Screenshot of winword /safe in Run dialog
  3. Alternatively, press and hold the Ctrl key and double-click the Word shortcut.

When Word opens, Safe Mode will appear at the top of the window.

Screenshot of Word in Safe Mode

Finding the Problem

If Word starts properly, then the problem lies in the registry data key or something in the Office startup folder. Start troubleshooting Word by disabling add-ins, using the Office Repair Utility, or deleting the data registry subkey, as well, as this might be the cause of startup problems in Word.

For more help fixing registry data key problems, consult the Microsoft Word support page.

If Word does not start correctly in safe mode, or if you don’t want to get into editing your registry, it may be time to reinstall Word. Remember to back up your settings first!