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Repairing Microsoft Office will usually preserve your settings. If you uninstall and then reinstall it, you will be back to the factory default settings.

Will running a repair on Office 2003 installation result in the software having the same condition as uninstalling and reinstalling the software?

In this excerpt from Answercast #75, I look at the difference between doing a "repair install" of Microsoft Office as compared to fully uninstalling the software from your computer and installing it again.

Repairing Microsoft Office

It's my understanding that the answer is no.

My understanding is that when you uninstall and reinstall the software, all of the default settings will be restored to their default settings - as if you had not had Office on your machine before and installed it completely from scratch.

As I understand it, a repair will actually attempt to repair the software without altering the settings that you may have configured since installing it.

So that would be the difference between the two. A repair is usually a good first step. I really like that Office includes that option as part of their setup.

If that doesn't work to solve whatever problem it might be that you're trying to solve here, then, yes, my next solution would be to completely uninstall it and then reinstall it from scratch - realizing that (at least in the latter case), you'll lose all of your settings.

Office documents

In either case, you should not lose your documents.

It's always a good idea to back up first, but regardless of the "uninstall/reinstall" scenario versus repair, your documents are not at risk (or should not be at risk), only your settings.

So like I said, back up first, but you should be okay in that regard.

Article C6093 - December 2, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Douglas Brace
December 2, 2012 6:09 PM

Uninstalling and reinstalling Office doesn't restore settings back to default.

You need to also delete Office related folders in "Application Data\Microsoft" and "Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft".

You also need to remove registry entries as well.

Windows applications are horrible at COMPLETELY uninstalling themselves.

December 4, 2012 6:19 PM

I'll second Doug's comment.

Very many people are fooled into thinking that doing an Office uninstall and re-install will give them a fresh start. Most of the time it does not because they made the same assumption you did.

Doing a "simple" uninstall from Programs and Features will leave behind the settings registry entries that Doug mentioned. It will also leave behind settings files like NORMAL.DOTM, Building Blocks.DOTM, the spelling CUSTOM.DIC and several more. MS does this as a "favor". This way when you upgrade versions you can carry over your personalize settings and customizations. Unfortunately, if you are re-installing the same version to fix a problem this feature defeats the intent of your action. One place that this is to your advantage is upgraded from Menu to Ribbon versions of Word. Word 2007 introduced and new focus based on the assumption that most of your document viewing will be done online rather than printed (they collected user stats that "prove" this). Many people do not like the new default fonts and spacing. There is a very simple way to keep the old settings when you upgrade to a ribbon version. Close Word. Rename (or delete) the new Word NORMAL.DOTM file. Then copy a 2003 (or earlier) NORMAL.DOT file into the templates folder. When you start Word, if it does not see an NORMAL.DOTM (for Ribbon, NORMAL.DOT for menu versions) it will regenerate the file using hard coded values. If a ribbon version of Word sees an older NORMAL.DOT file, it will pick up all of the settings from that file to incorporate in the new NORMAL.DOTM it creates. So you easily continue to see Times New Roman as the default font, single spaced paragraphs and all of the rest ...

This link is to a MS KB article that describes 4 methods of uninstalling Office 2010. Methods 2,3 and 4 will do a more thorough uninstall than method one which is the "normal" uninstall. The article also has links to related KB's for 2007, and 2003 and Mac installations. 2010 If you have 64 bit windows, download the tools to your HD before running them (make copy of your NORMAL.DOTM, EXCEL.XLSM, and for 2010 QAT: Excel.officeui and Word.officeui if you have done any customization).
NOTE: a couple of people have told me that the Fix It in method 2 would not run in Windows 8. I haven't verified it myself.

This is the equivalent for the Office 2013 Preview (BETA!) :

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