Returning Word to Default Settings

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 9, 2020)

In a multi-user environment, it is often desirable to set up Word so it can be easily returned to a pristine, default condition. For instance, in computer labs or training centers you may want to have Word set back to its default values before the next group of people come in and make their own configuration changes.

Unfortunately, there is no switch you can throw to either prevent changes or to set everything back to normal. (You probably wouldn't want to prevent changes anyway, particularly if you are teaching people how to customize Word.) The closest approach is to use the /a command-line switch for starting Word. According to the on-line Help system, this switch causes Word to "prevent add-ins and global templates (including the Normal template) from being loaded automatically." It also "prevents setting files from being read or modified." If you want to use this switch, simply follow these steps:

  1. Using the desktop browser (Windows, not Word), display the folder containing the shortcut used to start Word.
  2. Right-click on the shortcut icon. This displays a Context menu for the shortcut.
  3. Select the Properties option from the Context menu. This displays the shortcut's Properties dialog box.
  4. Click on the Shortcut tab. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Shortcut tab of the Properties dialog box

  6. At the end of the Target field, add the following: /a (If there are quote marks surrounding the text in the Target field, makes sure you place the /a outside the quote marks. Also, make sure there is a space before the slash.)
  7. Click on OK.

Note that this approach means that you can never modify Word and have the changes "stick." If you need to have the configuration start from a non-default condition, then the best approach is to use an AutoExec macro to reset all of Word's settable options to their default. The exact macro to use would be different, based on the version of Word you are using. The approach to use in creating the macro, however, can be very consistent. All you need to do is follow these general steps:

  1. Make a list (on paper) of all the options you want to have reset. Simply list the dialog boxes and tabs on which those options appear.
  2. Start the macro recorder.
  3. Visit each dialog box and tab you listed in step 1.
  4. Change one item on each dialog box or tab. (You can simply check and uncheck a check box, if you like.)
  5. Turn off the macro recorder.
  6. Edit the macro to make any necessary fine-tuning changes. (For example, in the sample macro later in this tip, fine-tuning involved moving options around and placing them in alphabetic order.)
  7. Name the macro AutoExec.

You should note that the length of the macro can be quite long, depending on the number of dialog boxes and tabs you visit. The following macro, for instance, is an example of such a "set to default" macro that was created for use in Word 2000. (This macro is included for illustration purposes only; your macro will be different, based on the order in which you visit dialog boxes and what you want included in the macro.)

Sub MyOptions()

    RecentFiles.Maximum = 9
    Languages(wdEnglishUS).SpellingDictionaryType = wdSpelling
    Languages(wdEnglishUS).DefaultWritingStyle = "Formal"

With ActiveDocument
        .ActiveWritingStyle(wdEnglishUS) = "Formal"
        .ClickAndTypeParagraphStyle = "Normal"
        .Compatibility(wdAlignTablesRowByRow) = False
        .Compatibility(wdAutospaceLikeWW7) = False
        .Compatibility(wdConvMailMergeEsc) = False
        .Compatibility(wdDontAdjustLineHeightInTable) = True
        .Compatibility(wdDontBalanceSingleByteDoubleByteWidth) = True
        .Compatibility(wdDontULTrailSpace) = True
        .Compatibility(wdDontUseHTMLParagraphAutoSpacing) = False
        .Compatibility(wdExactOnTop) = False
        .Compatibility(wdExpandShiftReturn) = True
        .Compatibility(wdFootnoteLayoutLikeWW8) = False
        .Compatibility(wdForgetLastTabAlignment) = False
        .Compatibility(wdLayoutRawTableWidth) = False
        .Compatibility(wdLayoutTableRowsApart) = False
        .Compatibility(wdLeaveBackslashAlone) = True
        .Compatibility(wdLineWrapLikeWord6) = False
        .Compatibility(wdMWSmallCaps) = False
        .Compatibility(wdNoColumnBalance) = False
        .Compatibility(wdNoExtraLineSpacing) = False
        .Compatibility(wdNoLeading) = False
        .Compatibility(wdNoSpaceForUL) = True
        .Compatibility(wdNoSpaceRaiseLower) = False
        .Compatibility(wdNoTabHangIndent) = False
        .Compatibility(wdOrigWordTableRules) = False
        .Compatibility(wdPrintBodyTextBeforeHeader) = False
        .Compatibility(wdPrintColBlack) = False
        .Compatibility(wdShapeLayoutLikeWW8) = False
        .Compatibility(wdShowBreaksInFrames) = False
        .Compatibility(wdSpacingInWholePoints) = False
        .Compatibility(wdSubFontBySize) = False
        .Compatibility(wdSuppressBottomSpacing) = True
        .Compatibility(wdSuppressSpBfAfterPgBrk) = True
        .Compatibility(wdSuppressTopSpacing) = True
        .Compatibility(wdSuppressTopSpacingMac5) = False
        .Compatibility(wdSwapBordersFacingPages) = False
        .Compatibility(wdTransparentMetafiles) = False
        .Compatibility(wdTruncateFontHeight) = False
        .Compatibility(wdUsePrinterMetrics) = False
        .Compatibility(wdWPJustification) = False
        .Compatibility(wdWPSpaceWidth) = False
        .Compatibility(wdWrapTrailSpaces) = False
        .Compatibility(wdWW6BorderRules) = False
        .EmbedTrueTypeFonts = False
        .OptimizeForWord97 = False
        .Password = ""
        .PrintFormsData = False
        .PrintPostScriptOverText = False
        .ReadOnlyRecommended = False
        .SaveFormsData = False
        .SaveSubsetFonts = False
        .ShowGrammaticalErrors = True
        .ShowSpellingErrors = True
        .WritePassword = ""
    End With

    With ActiveWindow
        .DisplayHorizontalScrollBar = True
        .DisplayLeftScrollBar = False
        .DisplayRightRuler = False
        .DisplayScreenTips = True
        .DisplayVerticalScrollBar = True
        .StyleAreaWidth = InchesToPoints(0)
        With .View
            .Draft = False
            .FieldShading = wdFieldShadingAlways
            .ShowAll = False
            .ShowAnimation = True
            .ShowBookmarks = True
            .ShowDrawings = True
            .ShowFieldCodes = False
            .ShowHiddenText = False
            .ShowHighlight = True
            .ShowHyphens = False
            .ShowObjectAnchors = False
            .ShowParagraphs = False
            .ShowPicturePlaceHolders = False
            .ShowSpaces = False
            .ShowTabs = False
            .ShowTextBoundaries = False
            .WrapToWindow = False
        End With
    End With

    With Application
    .DisplayRecentFiles = True
    .DisplayStatusBar = True
    .DefaultSaveFormat = ""
    .UserName = "User Name"
    .UserInitials = "User Initials"
    .UserAddress = "User Name" & Chr(13) & Chr(10) & _
        "Street Address" & Chr(13) & Chr(10) & "City, State zip"
    End With

    With CustomDictionaries
        .Add("C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Microsoft\Proof\CUSTOM.DIC"). _
            LanguageSpecific = False
        .ActiveCustomDictionary = CustomDictionaries.Item( _
            "C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Microsoft\Proof\CUSTOM.DIC")
    End With

    With Options
        .AllowAccentedUppercase = False
        .AllowClickAndTypeMouse = False
        .AllowCombinedAuxiliaryForms = True
        .AllowCompoundNounProcessing = True
        .AllowDragAndDrop = True
        .AllowFastSave = False
        .AllowPixelUnits = False
        .AnimateScreenMovements = False
        .ApplyFarEastFontsToAscii = False
        .AutoKeyboardSwitching = False
        .AutoWordSelection = False
        .BackgroundSave = True
        .BlueScreen = False
        .CheckGrammarAsYouType = False
        .CheckGrammarWithSpelling = False
        .CheckSpellingAsYouType = False
        .ConfirmConversions = False
        .CreateBackup = False
        .DefaultFilePath(Path:=wdDocumentsPath) = "C:\My Documents"
        .DefaultTray = "Use printer settings"
        .DeletedTextColor = wdBlue
        .DeletedTextMark = wdDeletedTextMarkStrikeThrough
        .EnableMisusedWordsDictionary = True
        .EnableSound = False
        .IgnoreInternetAndFileAddresses = True
        .IgnoreMixedDigits = False
        .IgnoreUppercase = False
        .InsertedTextColor = wdRed
        .InsertedTextMark = wdInsertedTextMarkUnderline
        .INSKeyForPaste = False
        .InterpretHighAnsi = wdHighAnsiIsHighAnsi
        .MapPaperSize = True
        .MeasurementUnit = wdInches
        .OptimizeForWord97byDefault = False
        .Overtype = False
        .Pagination = True
        .PictureEditor = "Microsoft Word"
        .PrintBackground = False
        .PrintComments = False
        .PrintDraft = False
        .PrintDrawingObjects = True
        .PrintFieldCodes = False
        .PrintHiddenText = False
        .PrintProperties = False
        .PrintReverse = False
        .ReplaceSelection = True
        .RevisedLinesColor = wdViolet
        .RevisedLinesMark = wdRevisedLinesMarkOutsideBorder
        .RevisedPropertiesColor = wdGreen
        .RevisedPropertiesMark = wdRevisedPropertiesMarkNone
        .RTFInClipboard = True
        .SaveInterval = 10
        .SaveNormalPrompt = True
        .SavePropertiesPrompt = True
        .SendMailAttach = True
        .ShortMenuNames = False
        .ShowReadabilityStatistics = False
        .SmartCutPaste = True
        .SuggestFromMainDictionaryOnly = False
        .SuggestSpellingCorrections = True
        .TabIndentKey = False
        .UpdateFieldsAtPrint = True
        .UpdateLinksAtOpen = True
        .UpdateLinksAtPrint = True
        .VirusProtection = False
        .WPDocNavKeys = False
        .WPHelp = False
    End With

End Sub


If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (642) 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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