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Slow Starting Microsoft Word? It’s likely to be normal.dot

Are you waiting a long time for Microsoft Word to open up?  Even the simplest of documents?  Even a new blank document?  The problem is likely to be normal.dot.

normal.dot is the default template that all documents are based on.  It has good intentions — to speed up default formatting for every document you’ll ever edit, for opening certain add-ins that you always want available, for loading macros you always want at your disposal, and more.

However, sometimes add-ins take too long to load and are no longer beneficial to you…or sometimes a macro was dropped in there that you’d like removed…or maybe you don’t know what in the world is in there, but Word is brutally slow to load.  In that case, it’s a good idea to try the following steps (do so at your own very limited risk, but absolutely no risk to us).

  1. Find the location of the normal.dot file by opening Word and going to Tools->Options, select the File Locations tab, and then double click on “User templates” in the list.  Use the pop up window to determine the full path to the directory referenced in the directory selection window.
  2. Close the Options windows down and close Microsoft Word.
  3. Open Windows Explorer or double click on My Computer and then click through to the path you found in step 1.
  4. Right click on the normal.dot file and select “Rename”.  Change the name of the file to something other than normal.dot, e.g., abnormal.dot or junk.normal.dot.
  5. Open Microsoft Word again.  Word will notice the absence of normal.dot and create a fresh new version with nothing extra added in.  Note, that if you have found the source of your problem, Word will load up super quick.  In my case it went from 90+ seconds of wait time to being virtually instantaneous.

If you find that you have resolved your issue of slow-loading Word, then smile at a stranger to say thanks for the tip.  If you still have problems, try a Microsoft Update to see if there is a problem with your installation.  In any event, you must walk that path alone, weary traveler, my journey stops here.

If you suddenly realize that you really desperately needed the content of the original normal.dot (here is the very limited risk part), then you can always go back through the steps above, but this time around, change the name back to normal.dot.  The next time you open Word, it will be nice and slow again, just like you like it.

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