Document is Too Large for Word to Handle

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 4, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, and 2013


Danesh has a document that he is trying to open in Word 2010. When he tries, Word responds, "The document is too large for Word to handle." Danesh has had it open in Word before, and the system he's using has more than enough resources available. He wonders about the best way to get into his document.

Anytime you start seeing messages like this—particularly if your machine isn't really limited on RAM or disk space—it means there is a good chance that your document file is somehow corrupted. The first order of business is to make a copy of the file (so in case you really mess one up, you have another) and then try this:

  1. Open Word with a blank, new document.
  2. Display the Open dialog box. (In Word 2007 and Word 2010 press Ctrl+O. In Word 2013 and Word 2016 press Ctrl+O, click Computer, then click Browse. In Word 2019 or Word in Office 365 press Ctrl+O.)
  3. Locate and click once on the problem document.
  4. Click the down-arrow next to the Open button. Word displays different ways you can open the document.
  5. Click Open and Repair.

Word does its thing and tries to open the document and fix any internal pointers that may have gone haywire.

If that doesn't work, you should try to open the document in a different program to see if it can be recovered. Good options to try are WordPad, Open Office, LibreOffice, and Notepad. If you are able to open it in any of these other programs, do a "Save As" and save the document into a new file. You should then be able to open that file in Word.

You could also try using a program that will convert a Word document into a PDF file. (Word 2019 and Word in Office 365 allow you to print the Word document to a PDF which essentially converts the document into a PDF file.) If you can successfully do the conversion, you could then use that program (or another one) to convert the PDF file back to a Word document. The "round trip" on the document could clean up a lot of problems and allow you to work with the document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6043) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013.

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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What is seven more than 9?

2020-01-05 10:22:21

Doug Bowlds

If you get an file too large to open with Word error, that also can indicate that you are using a 32-bit version of Word and your file is larger than 512MB (I have experienced this situation). To fix this, go to the document in file explorer and rename it to be a .zip file versus a .docx file. Then you will be able to see the XML zipped file format. Navigate to the Word/Media folder and all the images in the file will be accessible. Move as many of the larger images as necessary to a temporary folder outside the XML folder structure so that when you rename the .zip file back to a .docx file, the file size will be under 512MB. Then, when you next open the document in Word, it will place a large red X where the image(s) have been deleted. You can then reinsert those images and split the document into less than 512MB file sizes.

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