Why doesn't Word work right?
January 9, 2008 6:56 AM   Subscribe

Word 2003 won't open after double-clicking on a document, and the mouse doesn't work in the document area.

If I double-click a Word file, the mouse hourglasses for a moment, then nothing happens. If I run Word by itself, I can open documents just fine, but outside of Word, I got nothing. I've already checked the file types and everything seems to be in order.

In addition, my mouse doesn't work in Word, but only in the actual document window. I can mouse all around the menus and toolbars and such, but I can't do anything with the mouse to the document. I can't highlight, I can't insert a cursor, I can't get the scrollbars to move. I CAN change the page view with the clickys in the lower left, but nothing else in the document window works.

Since Outlook 2003 uses Word 2003 for its rendering, I have the same problem in Outlook 2003. Menus & toolbars work fine but I can't highlight or do anything with the mouse to the actual text. I can use the keyboard to highlight and navigate.

In all other application, including the rest of MS Office, the mouse works fine.

Here's what seems like the key to figuring this out:

I already completely uninstalled Office 2003, ran CCleaner (my S.O.P.), and reinstalled it, and it's exactly like it was before. No opening documents outside of Word, no mouse in the text field.

I'm a FOSS guy at home, but this is at my relatively new job (in the IT dept, no less) and I haven't been inflicted with Word in a long time, so I'm not real hip to fixing MS Office screw-ups. Anyone got any ideas on this?
posted by BeerFilter to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
I've had issues with new machines if you don't fully remove the 6 month trial of office. It seems to me the MS office programs are the ones that become corrupt the most often. perhaps you have to do an uninstall, a reboot, then look for any registry keys left over. then reboot again. perhaps clearing out temp files. Maybe just installing word on its own to see how it goes. That would be my S.O.P.
posted by Amby72 at 7:16 AM on January 9, 2008

A couple of things:

"winword.exe /safe" will load Word without an extensions/add-ins/etc.

Find the Normal.dot template and rename it to for Word to create a new one. (Even if you uninstalled Word, oftentimes directories and their contents are leftover.
posted by tcv at 7:58 AM on January 9, 2008

Not sure if this is relevant in your case, but probably worth noting that when MS recently released Office 2003 SP3, they failed (how?!) to mention that this update locks out the user from opening and having editing functionality with some previous versions of Office 2003 files.

Details (and links to fixes), here: Office 2003 SP3 Problems

Fixes are not for the faint-hearted as they involve the Windows Registry - back it up before you attempt anything.
posted by Blacksun at 11:43 AM on January 9, 2008

I've seen a similar problem to the one you're experiencing, with other applications; where the app area itself doesn't allow/display the mouse cursor but you can still run your mouse over the toolbar buttons etc. I completely agree with tcv - blow away the normal.dot file and make sure that you've also disabled any antivirus or other programs which attempt to prevent infection via Word macros etc. Next, use Add/Remove Programs and "repair" your Office installation to see if there's a corrupt or missing DLL somewhere. Last thing I'd try is uninstall Office 2003 completely (use Revo Uninstaller for this - it not only calls the original uninstall process but additionally will remove lingering registry entries as well as any files in the filesystem that the program's uninstall routines didn't catch - plus, it's freeware) - and then reinstall and try again.

My company produces lots of install and user guides using Word 2003. Recently, there was a decision (which surprised the heck out of me) to move to using FrameMaker instead. I asked why we were switching and was told that there's a MAJOR flaw in Word such that after you've gotten past a certain doc size or number of styles, documents start getting corrupted after saving - styles aren't saved, text chunks go missing etc. I never heard of this, but the doc team at work are adamant enough about it that the company is paying beaucoup bucks to allow them to use FrameMaker for all our docs going forward. I'm saying to point out that Word 2003 appears not to be the ultra-stable panacea that a lot of people think it is. I've used it for years and to hear what was discovered at my company was a bit of a mini-shock to me.
posted by tra at 9:51 AM on January 12, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for your help, folks. In the course of work it's come up several more times on other users, and now I just follow the steps in this knowledgebase article and that has worked every time.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:01 PM on May 30, 2008

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