Use Safe Mode to Diagnose Microsoft Word Startup Issues

Find out what's wrong so you can fix it

Hands of colleagues discussing over laptop at desk in office.

 

Pattanaphong Khuankaew / EyeEm / Getty Images 

If you experience problems when you start Microsoft Word, safe mode helps narrow down the source of the problem. Because Word loads the registry data key, the Normal.dot template, and other add-ins or templates in the Office startup folder before you realize something is wrong, the source of the problem isn't immediately apparent or readily accessible. Safe mode provides a different way to start Word that doesn't load these elements.

Instructions in this article apply to Word for Office 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word 2013 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. Go to the Windows Start menu and select Run. Or, press the keyboard shortcut Windows key+R.

  2. Type winword /safe, then select OK. Or, press and hold the Ctrl key and double-click the Word shortcut.

    Screenshot of winword /safe in Run dialog
  3. When Word opens, Safe Mode appears at the top of the window.

    Word with the Safe Mode indicator highlighted

Find the Problem

If Word starts properly, then the problem lies in the registry data key or something in the Office startup folder. To troubleshoot Word, disable add-ins, use the Office Repair Utility, or delete 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 doesn't start correctly in safe mode, or if you don’t want to edit the registry, reinstall Word. Back up your settings first before making any changes to the registry.