Delays when Double-Clicking a Document Icon

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 18, 2014)

Sal Pena noticed an odd thing in his use of Word--when he double-clicks on a document icon on his desktop, it takes quite a while for the document to open in Word. If he has Word open and uses the Open dialog box to open the same document, the opening time is much quicker. Sal was wondering what caused the delay when double-clicking the icon.

There are any number of reasons that this could be happening. One thing to examine is exactly what is happening when you double-click a document icon in Windows. If Word is not already open, double-clicking first starts the program, and then loads the document. Because Windows needs to load the Word program, double-clicking on a document icon in this situation will always take longer than opening a document once Word is already open. Thus, the delay could be introduced because of the need to open Word itself.

It is possible, however, that you may have Word already open--but minimized--when you double-click the document icon. If this is the case, then any delay could be because Windows has to "switch context" to bring Word fully into memory in order to load the file. If you use the Open dialog box in Word, the program is already fully in memory, and no context switching is necessary.

Another option is that, somehow, the registration of your Word file types has gotten confused. If you suspect this, then you can unregister Word and re-register it. Close Word completely, then use the following from the command line:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\winword.exe" /unregserver

The quotes are necessary, but you may need to change the path so it reflects the location of the winword.exe file on your system. (You can use Windows' Search tool to locate the path to the winword.exe file.) The /unregserver switch "unhooks" all the references to Word in the Windows Registry. You should then, immediately, use the following command:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\winword.exe" /regserver

If the slowness in opening is only noticeable on a particular document, it could be because of the document itself, and not because of Word or Windows. If this is the case, follow this quick procedure:

  1. Make sure you have Track Changes turned off.
  2. Choose Tools | Options | Save tab and make sure the Allow Fast Saves check box is cleared. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Save tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Open the slow document and a new, blank document.
  5. In the slow document, press Ctrl+A to select the entire document.
  6. Hold down the Shift key as you press the Left Arrow. This makes sure that the final carriage return in the document is not selected.
  7. Press Ctrl+C to copy everything to the Clipboard.
  8. Switch to the new, blank document.
  9. Press Ctrl+V to paste the Clipboard contents into the new document.
  10. Close the old document.
  11. Save the new document using a new name.

There is a good chance the new document's file size will be smaller than the old one, which means it may load quicker in the future.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (220) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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