Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Factory Default Settings for Word.

Factory Default Settings for Word

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 19, 2013)

There may be times when you want to set Word back to a pristine, first-installed condition. For instance, you may be offering Word training, and you want to reset Word between each class offered. Many people think that the easiest way to do this is to simply allow Word to recreate the Normal.dot template. While this will restore some settings to their first-used state (such as macros, toolbars, and the like), it will not do the entire trick.

Other suggestions may include uninstalling and reinstalling Word. This, however, will not lead to a pristine version of Word. Many of the configuration settings unique to Word are stored in the Registry. The uninstall process does not remove all option settings stored in the Registry and many of these will be picked up after the re-install so that Word can use them. This is ideal for those who are upgrading—they get to keep their settings rather than find the upgrade overwriting them. However, it's not so useful for those who are looking to get a completely 'clean' install with no throwbacks to previous installs. Thus after an uninstall, it is likely to be necessary to edit the Registry to remove the settings.

You should remember that you cannot do "resetting" of Word while the program is running. This is because Word saves configuration information as it exits. If you make changes and then exit, you overwrite any resetting you did.

You should make sure you rename the Normal.dot file to a different name, and you should remove any files from the Startup folder. This is not the end of the process; you also need to make a few changes to the Registry. You may want to protect yourself from potential problems by backing up the Registry first, and then you can accomplish the following steps:

  1. Choose the Run option from the Start menu. This displays the Run dialog box.
  2. In the Open box enter the name regedit.
  3. Click on OK. This starts the Regedit program.
  4. If you are using Word 97, select the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Office/8.0/Word key.
  5. If you are using Word 2000, select the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Office/9.0/Word key.
  6. If you are using Word 2002, select the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Office/10.0/Word key.
  7. If you are using Word 2003, select the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Office/11.0/Word key.
  8. Press the Delete key. You are asked if you want to really delete they key.
  9. Click on Yes. The selected key is deleted.
  10. Close the Registry Editor.
  11. Restart Word. Word has been reset to default settings.

Understand that when you make all these changes, there are still a couple of settings that can then only be changed by a complete reinstall. For instance, the company name you entered when you first installed Word is actually stored in the Word program file. There are also other files that can be changed during the course of using Word, but you cannot "reset" by simply deleting them. An example would be any file on your system ending with the ACL file name extension. These are used for shared and user-specific AutoCorrect settings. If you simply delete the files, you are removing all AutoCorrect settings, not setting them back to factory defaults.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1330) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Factory Default Settings for Word.

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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