Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Cannot Open Multiple Word Documents.

Cannot Open Multiple Word Documents

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 7, 2018)

Sharon indicated that she can only open one Word document at a time. Every time she opens a new document, the previous document automatically closes. She wonders how she can fix this condition.

Good question. Word definitely should not be working this way. If it happens with only a specific document (a specific document is open and it closes when you open another or when you go to open a specific document your previous document is always closed), then it could be because the document is corrupted in some manner. You'll want to do a bit of detective work to see if it is a specific document, and if it is, copy the text (minus the final paragraph mark) to a different document. The problem may then go away.

It is also possible that you really are able to open multiple documents, but that Word minimizes or hides all the documents except the one on which you are working. Check in Windows to see if there are multiple document windows open; you can then select the one you want to work with.

If the problem still exists, then it could be due to some sort of macro running on your system, or it could be due to a problem with Word itself. Try to run Word and disable any add-ins that may be loaded by using the following from the command line:

winword.exe /a

You can also try to disable any macros that are automatically run when Word is started by using this command:

winword.exe /m

Finally, you'll want to check the Startup folder for Word. You can locate the Startup folder by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the options and click File Locations. Word displays the File Locations dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The File Locations dialog box.

  5. In the list of File Types, choose Startup.
  6. Click on Modify.

The resulting dialog box indicates the location of the Startup folder being used by Word. Once you have the location of the Startup folder, close Word and use Windows to examine the contents of that folder. Move any programs or templates out of the folder and then restart Word. If the problem goes away, then you've found your culprit. If it doesn't go away then you may want to reinstall Word.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7126) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Cannot Open Multiple Word Documents.

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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