If your business lives and breathes on generating and editing Microsoft Word documents, having the program suddenly take forever to load documents can be cause for alarm. There are a handful of causes for slowdowns when a document opens, and tracking down which one is causing the problem can take some detective work. Fortunately, the sleuthing is quick and straightforward.
Basic Document Properties
Locate the document in Windows File Explorer, and examine its properties, particularly its file size. Documents with a lot of embedded macros or print-resolution images can take a very long time to load. A lot of businesses load up Word documents with pictures and logos for brochures, and Word has to process all of those images before the file opens.
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Make a local copy of the file if it exists on a network share. When networks aren't configured properly, accessing files that are spread out on the network will be constrained by the bandwidth of your network. This can be the source of delays in opening a file that sporadically loads slowly when the network is occupied with a high bandwidth operation like a system-wide backup.
Clear copies of temporary files from the directory. When Word loads a document into memory, it also attempts to load any relevant temporary files, and if there are multiple temporary files, identifiable by the "~" as the first character in the name, it tries to load them all.
Download and Run the Word Fixit Wizard.
Flushing the Normal.dot Template
Close Word, and use the "Search" charm, or Windows Search in earlier versions, to search for the "normal.dot" file. You may need to select the option to view non-indexed, hidden and system files for it to become visible. For versions of Word older than 2007, it will pull up a file called "normal.dot." For Word 2007 and later, it will pull up a file called "normal.dotm."
Right-click the file. Rename it to "oldnormal.dot" or "oldnormal.dotm." The normal.dot file has all of your standard document formatting in it and any macros you want used across multiple word document files. It is the template file that generates new blank Word documents, and can sometimes get corrupted or have more macros loading than you're currently using. Slow-loading Word documents used to be a sign of macro viruses back in the 1990s, and while not as common now, they still propagate.
Restart Word. Word will generate a new normal.dot file with no macros and default formatting in it. You may want to edit the normal.dot file to apply your standard formatting on it, but be careful that you don't re-introduce the cause of the slow-down.
Starting Word Without Add-ins
Bring up the command prompt by pressing the "Windows" and "X" keys together.
Type "winword /a" to launch Word with no add-ins loaded.
Use the "File" tab to load the troublesome word document, and see if the speed problem goes away.