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Word Slow to Open Documents

There are times when opening a document in Word can be slow. For instance, if the document is quite large, or if it contains a lot of complex graphics, if it contains a lot of linked data from other sources, or if you have saved it quite often with Word's Fast Save feature turned on.

There are other times, however, when opening a document can be downright painful—for instance, when it takes four minutes (or longer) to open a document that is only 800 KB in size. In these instances, the reason for the slowness may not be immediately evident. This is where a little bit of detective work comes into play.

The first thing to check is whether the document is on your computer or not. If the document is on a different computer in your network, then the problem could be either the other computer or even the network itself. Sometimes, if the network is configured improperly, communication across the network can slow to a crawl. This type of slowdown should affect other programs on your computer, however, when you need to access remote data from those programs. Thus, if opening remote documents is slow in all of your programs, then you should check your network and the other computer. If you suspect this problem, you will need to chat with your network administrator to see what can be done.

If the problem is evident in all documents on your computer (they are all slow in opening), then you may want to check your virus protection software. It could be that it is slowing down opening files. The only way to determine if this is the case is to disable virus protection—at least for the length of your test—to see if the problem goes away. If it does, then you should either check with the publisher of the virus protection software for an update, or look at getting a different virus protection program.

There are other things to try if the problem is evident in all of the documents you open. When Word is not running, make sure you delete all the temporary files that Word may have left lying around various folders in your system. Look for files that end with the TMP extension, or files that being with the tilde (~) character. If your file folders become very cluttered with these temporary files, it can slow Word down immensely. You can find out more information about Word's temporary files at this Knowledge Base article:


Another thing to try is to start Word with the /a switch on the command line. This causes it to load without also loading different startup files such as add-ins and macros. If this fixes the problem, then you can bet that the slowdown is caused by one of those add-ins or macros. You might also rename the Normal.dot (or Normal.dotm) file; if it is corrupted then it can slow down response times. (Renaming the file causes Word to create a clean, fresh, empty one the next time you start the program.)

When the problem is limited to a single document, then there are a couple of things to try. First, is the file stored on some sort of removable media, such as a flash drive or other external drive? Opening a file on some removable media can be excruciatingly slow. This is not only because reading the file is slow, but because Word also tries to create its own temporary files on the removable media. This may quickly fill up the media and cause very slow response times.

Another thing to check is if the file contains lots of links to external resources. For instance, if it contains linked images, linked charts, or linked spreadsheet objects. All the links in a document are refreshed when a document is opened, and the refreshing sequence can be very time consuming. This is particularly true if the source files that need to be opened by Word (the ones containing the images, charts, and spreadsheets) are on a network drive and that network drive is either not available or suffering from slow communication speeds.

You should also open the file and check to see what template file is attached to the document. If the document is trying to use a non-existent template file, or one that is no longer accessible through a network connection, then Word may "stall" as it tries over and over again to find the template.

Finally, if the document still won't open quickly, it could be because the document itself is corrupted. You can check this out by following these general steps:

  1. Open the slow document. (Maybe you will need to take a coffee break while it opens.)
  2. Open a new, blank document.
  3. In the slow document, press Ctrl+Home to go to the beginning of the document.
  4. Press Shift+Ctrl+End. This should select everything from the beginning of the document to the end.
  5. Press Shift+Left Arrow. This "deselects" the final paragraph mark in the document.
  6. Press Ctrl+C to copy the selection to the Clipboard.
  7. In the new, blank document, press Ctrl+V. This pastes the copied information to the new document.
  8. Close the old document and save the new document.

This should clear up any corruption problems associated with a document. You will be able to tell if it solved your slow opening problem by opening the newly saved document and seeing if it opens quicker than the original one.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1328) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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Comments for this tip:

opinion_you_trust    29 Apr 2016, 10:03
Microsoft Word 2016 is slow. It is slow especially on all larger documents. It is so that large documents are in greater demand because it is more convenient to work with the large documents. However, Word is prohibitively slow. Word is installed on the system with abundance of resources including newest processor and RAM. The only possible explanation is that the Microsoft introduced the slowness intentionally. One reason why Microsoft does it is that as they push everybody in the cloud (not a good thing! Say No! to the cloud) they do not want it to be such shocking contrast the slow Office workings in the cloud when users migrate to the cloud. Another reason could be as proposed by some other they do run some process in background which significantly slows typing, saving, and all other manipulations in the Word. Word is not a good thing. There is something shady about Word working so slowly. There is not viable alternative, however.
Heather    22 Jul 2015, 06:43
Thank you, the copy/paste trick worked!
mike rodent    19 Apr 2015, 12:30
REMOVE M$ ONEDRIVE... this is some typical MS crapware... God knows what it is meant to do... Massive probs with lag, but after I got rid of this things started to operate a bit more sanely.
IT Architect    09 Apr 2015, 13:00
> Maria 07 Nov 2014, 13:20
Unfortunately, I believe the Word 2013 software itself is corrupt.<

ataur    02 Mar 2015, 02:19
when i open my Microsoft word 2007 has long time than open again i close the word has long time. please tell, me now i can do
Krzysztof    27 Feb 2015, 05:54
Logging out from Office 365 account maked my Word beeing faster.

Unless you must use cloud, log out.

Under File/Account
Praveen    30 Dec 2014, 03:44
its realy help me a lot. Thanks
Dave    18 Nov 2014, 16:48
Not enough hours in the day to trouble-shoot this problem. I am longing for paper and pen days.
Ian    10 Nov 2014, 06:24
I have a file that I open from my desktop and Word sits for a while trying to contact my old Laptop across the network.
Is it possible to remove this "link"?
There's nothing in the document I can see which would cause this.
Thanks for any help (Office 2010 by the way!)
Maria    07 Nov 2014, 13:20
Unfortunately, I believe the Word 2013 software itself is corrupt. Never had a problem until I 'upgraded" to Word 2013, in opening files on our network. Small byte files take forever to open and close! Thanks for the fix-it suggestions!
raadnaji14@hotmail.com    31 Oct 2014, 00:34
Dear Sir/Madam

How can I check weather certail PC is using word 2007 or 2010?
Cal Hutch    10 Sep 2014, 23:32
I have Office 7.
I tried to install an old typing program but Office 3 downloaded with it.
I uninstalled both Office 3 and the typing program.
Now when first opening a document with Office 7 it goes through;
1. Setup
2. Configuration
3. Install

Takes 3 - 4 minutes.
awyatt    14 Aug 2014, 15:20
Bob, check out this tip:


Bob Levin    14 Aug 2014, 14:50
Could you tell me what has suddenly happened to make my Word 2007 start populating temp files in my document folder; i.e., example "FAP1CB8.tmp".

How can I stop this annoying problem?

Thank you;
pradipta jena    26 Jul 2014, 10:19
Dear sir
my microsoft word docoment very slow
kindly solution it

pradipta jena
Natalie Kehr    26 Jun 2014, 06:08
The 8-step procedure should possibly be the first suggestion - the document owner can do that without involving a network administrator.
In the 8 step procedure steps 3 and 4 can be replaced with Ctrl+A.

Please could Alan explain why he deselects the final paragraph mark. It has never occurred to me to do that deletion, though I have created a copy file when a much used file started telling me "An unexpected error has occurred". (The misnamed Microsoft Help has never come up with anything relevant!)
John Crosland    25 Jun 2014, 05:58
Thank you! It was only one Word 2010 file that would hang for several minutes as soon as I clicked on any part of it...is is a home made kind of database file, with a lot of links and graphics added using the snipping tool....originally it was one long A-Z file with this not responding problem so I split it into 2 files, A-N and O-Z...the O-Z file works ok so I was guessing the A-N part was corrupted in some way... it looks as if it was because I carried out your procedure 1-8 above and the newly created A-N file works ok ....brilliant! and now at last I can add in all the info I have accumulated for months on scraps of paper because it was so frustrating having to wait for the old A-N file to respond...Thanks again!

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