Word Won't Take 'No' for an Answer

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 15, 2014)

Harold asked about a problem he was having with exiting Word. It seems that he is asked if he wants to save changes to Normal.dot, but Word won't let him answer "No." If he does, Word keeps asking over and over again about whether Normal.dot should be saved. If he answers "Yes," Word insists that he rename the Normal. dot file.

It appears that this problem is caused by a combination of two things. First (and easiest) is the insistence on renaming Normal.dot. This only occurs if the existing Normal.dot is write-protected in some way. For instance, if the Read-Only attribute of the file is set (within Windows), or if Normal.dot is actually on a network drive for which you don't have write permission. If you can gain permission to write to the folder, or if you change the attributes of Normal.dot, you should be able to save with no problem.

The thornier problem, however, is Word not allowing you to refuse to save Normal.dot. While the exact cause is difficult to ascertain, it could be because you have some macros or add-ins that, behind the scenes, are making changes that affect Normal.dot, and these changes are being done after you indicate you don't want to save. In short, you say "no," the macro makes a change, and you are prompted again if you want to change. When you say "no" again, the macro makes another change, and you are again prompted.

The only way to deal with this scenario—if it is the cause of your problem—is to track down which macro or add-in is causing the problem. You do this by removing all the startup macros and add-ins, and seeing if the problem goes away. If it does, you can add each macro and add-in back, one at a time, to see when the problem reappears. When it does, you know which macro or add-in is causing the problem.

Once you identify the macro or add-in, you have two choices—you can either remove the macro or add-in and do without it, or you can make the necessary changes to the actual coding so the problem isn't evident. Of course, if you didn't create the macro or add-in, you will need to contact the developer's tech support department to report your problem and hopefully receive a fix.

One final thing to check is whether you actually have multiple instances of Word open on your computer. If you do, it is possible that both are using Normal.dot, and both are changing it and therefore affecting each other. If this is the case, close the second instance of Word before trying to close the first. (If you have multiple documents open in each instance of Word, it can be difficult to figure out what, exactly, you should click on the Task bar to change to the other instance. If this is the case, press Alt+Tab to switch to the desired instance. Each instance of Word—not each document—is displayed as an icon when you click Alt+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 (1323) 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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