Too Many Temporary Files

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 18, 2015)

2

When you use Word, you may have noticed that it creates many temporary files as the program is running. Word does this as a document management scheme—to help improve speed and versatility while editing a document. These files are saved in several different places on your hard drive. The most common place is in the folder where the original document is located.

Some people mistakenly think you can change where Word stores temporary files. If you look at the File Locations tab of the Options dialog box, you can see that there are no settings for temporary files, other than AutoRecover files. (These are not, technically, temporary files. Word creates many more temporary files than just AutoRecover files.) All the other temporary files created by Word are either placed in the system temporary directory (set by the Windows TEMP system environment) or in the folder where the original document (the one related to the temporary files) is located.

When you use the Open dialog box to look for a document, you may see two types of temporary files in a directory. The first uses the same document name as an open document, has a dollar sign as the first character, and uses the DOC file name extension. Word uses this temporary file, again, for document management. The other type of temporary file uses a seemingly random file name with an extension of TMP. These files are created for a wide variety of reasons and purposes, so a large number of them can appear very quickly.

It should be noted that you will only see the TMP temporary files if you have the Files of Type setting in the Open dialog box set to All Files. If you find the TMP files distracting (most people do), you should set the Files of Type setting to a different file type. The TMP files are no longer displayed, and you can more easily focus on the files you need to work with. If you cannot do this (for instance, you routinely work with files that have a different file extension than DOC), then there is no way around wading through the TMP files in your directory.

Theoretically, Word is supposed to delete all of its temporary files when you exit the program. Long-time Word users know that this is not always the case. It is very possible to have TMP files left strewn about your hard drive. Once you have exited Word, it is perfectly OK to delete these files. Typically they are left if Word hangs, if you exit the program abnormally, or if you left a large number of items in the Clipboard when you ended the program.

For more information on how Word uses temporary files, refer to this Knowledge Base article:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211632

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1389) 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Indent and Justify Command

WordPerfect users are familiar with the F4 command, which indents and justifies a paragraph. Word does not have an ...

Discover More

Converting List Types

There are two types of common lists you can create in Word: bulleted lists and numbered lists. You can switch between the ...

Discover More

Custom Page Numbers on Printouts

Excel is rather weak on giving you control over how page numbers appear on a printout. This is never more apparent than ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (menu)

Saving in PostScript Format

Word can save your document in PostScript format so that it can be easily processed by other programs that work with ...

Discover More

Determining the Length of a Non-Document Text File

If you use a macro to create and work with text files, you can find out the length of those files using a simple command. ...

Discover More

Error Generated if Files Opened in Word Session

Greg has a problem with Word 2002 crashing, depending on how he opens files. This seems to be a problem that Microsoft ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five minus 0?

2016-09-19 18:55:06

Ed Gardner

I have a folder that contains all my Word documents (Word 97-03). The documents total 61 Mb, but the folder contains 692 Mb. That's because there are 631 Mb of WRL####.tmp files that are hidden from me. I see their existence only when I'm doing a backup of my Word files to an ext. hard drive. It takes 8 seconds to back up the visible files and 52 seconds to back up the WRL####.tmp files

The .tmp files keep piling up as I keep opening and closing various Word docs. How do I get rid of these files and, in addition, how do I not have them hang around after I close a Word document each time?

Grateful for any help!

Ed Gardner


2016-02-12 16:15:11

Linda

Hi, I have a customer, where random temp files are accumulating on a folder on the server. They are coming from one of work stations. Any suggestions as to why this is happening? Or how to stop it? Thanks


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.