Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Office programs that take a long time to start and stop is a tough one to diagnose long distance. There are a few steps to try to get you back up to speed.

On my Win 7, dual core HP4400 Workstation, Word and Excel 2007 have suddenly overnight started taking one to two minutes to load and shut down. Once open, they work fine but they take one to two minutes to close. This happens every time with Word and Excel but no other programs. My machine is standalone with no network system.

In this excerpt from Answercast #87, I look at an odd case where Microsoft Office programs are suddenly opening and shutting down slowly.

Office programs taking a long time

So a network is certainly the first thing that came to mind - because obviously if you're attempting to access a network connection that no longer exists, it takes time for the software to realize that it's not gonna connect and that can happen at start up for certain things.

The first thing that comes to mind is potentially: add-ins.

Maybe you've recently installed an add-in of some sort to Office (or to Word or Excel) that is taking more time to get started or shut down.

Repair install

Lastly, the only other thing that really comes to mind... there's nothing obvious; I'll tell you that.

The only other thing that really comes to mind would be to perform a repair install of Office. That should reinstall the software in such a way that it might clear up whatever it is that's kind-of getting in the way of startups and shut down.

I don't have a clear answer for you but that's direction that I would head. The article that I point you at is "How do I repair Microsoft Office?" That should have instructions for doing that repair.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6238 - January 13, 2013 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
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?

4 Comments
SkiddMarxx
January 15, 2013 8:45 AM

Long load and close times may also be a sign of a failing hard drive.

Michael Roberts
January 15, 2013 9:05 AM

These are all good suggestions, but there are at least two more that would explain the slow startup and shutdown behavior.

As a first step, launch MS Word at the command line, with "winword.exe /a". The "/a" indicates that Word should start with no add-ins or templates. Kind of like what happens when you start a PC in "Safe Mode". If Word starts as you expected, then the problem was most likely caused by one of two things:

a) The default template is corrupt, or too big to load quickly, or
b) The Data folder is corrupted

By default, MS Word launches with a blank document, with settings contained in a file named "normal.dot", and when you close Word, this file gets rewritten. Over time, this file can either become corrupted, and/or grow to such a size that it can slow down the application. In Excel, this file used to be called something like "personal.xls", but this name may have changed in versions after 2003.

For MS Word solution a), look in the folder "C:\Documents and settings\Application data\Microsoft\Templates", or find normal.dot by a search of the hard disk, and rename it, perhaps to something like "normal-old.dot". Then, restart Word.

When the application does not find normal.dot, it will create one, uncorrupted, and with no special styles, layouts, or other settings. Which might fix the problem. Often, a comparison of the size of normal-old.dot and the new normal.dot will help - the smaller the new template is, compared to the old, the more likely it was that this was the problem.

Solution b) will require a registry edit. As always, the usual warnings apply. Make sure that you have a reliable backup of the registry before you begin.

Now that you are protected, start the registry editor (type "regedit" at the command line), then navigate to the registry key "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\version number\Word\Data". Rename the "Data" folder to something like "Data-old", and close the registry editor.

When you launch Word, a new Data folder will be created automatically. Which may solve the problem, by the same general mechanism as the first method.

As for Excel, you might try installing the Lookup Wizard as an add-in. This is supposed to work very well with Excel 2007:

Click on the ball Office logo at the top left of the screen. Then mouse over to the bottom of the user form that appears, and select "Excel Options". The select "Add-ins" from the menu at the left, and click on "Go..." at the bottom of the user form.

Check the "Lookup Wizard" check box, and click "OK".

Hoping you resolve both issues.

Sjoerd
January 15, 2013 9:09 AM

If the add ins are the problem,and you don't need them, the following switch from the ms site works well. Word 2007 loads in a flash compared to the normal load time.

Type a space, followed by the switch that you want to use.

For example, if you want to start Word and prevent the loading of add-ins and global templates, type the following in the Open box, including the quotation marks:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Winword.exe" /a

Jonathan
January 19, 2013 4:52 AM

I've found that keeping the temp files cleaned out (usually under C:\Documents and Settings\#UserID#\Local Settings\temp folder in XP and C:\Users\#UserID#\Local\Temp in Win7) makes a big difference, too.

Windows 7 does a much better job at keeping these files cleaned out, however, on XP systems that run MS Office the files in this folder can build up significantly.

Always make sure you have no applications running when you clean out this folder.

I normally use CCleaner to take care of it and have found that it makes MS Office applications run much better if it's run often, especially in a corporate environment or one where Office is used heavily.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.