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: Can't Save Edited Document.

Can't Save Edited Document

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 15, 2021)

David has a large Word file, approximately 6.3 MB in size. If he tries to edit it and save it, he always gets the reply that "The disk is too full or too many files are open." Neither situation is true. If David tries to save it without altering it, there is no error response, but it also appears that the document isn't really saved anew (insofar as its Date Modified property isn't updated). He's tried chopping it up into smaller files and saving those, but whatever he does he gets the same error response.

There are a few things you should try to help narrow down the problem. First, get out of Word and do a search (using Windows tools) to locate any temporary files that may be created by Word or by other programs. You want to get rid of these; they are intended to be temporary, after all.

Look for anything ending with a TMP file extension or anything that starts with a dollar sign ($). Anything with the TMP extension can be deleted outright; anything that starts with a dollar sign can be deleted if it appears that the file is simply a Word document with the dollar sign added as a prefix. You can find more information about Word's use of temporary files at this page in the Knowledge Base. (The article is for Word 2010, but it is still very applicable to later versions of the program.)

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

After getting rid of the temporary files, run the Disk Cleanup app (Windows Disk Cleanup in earlier versions of Windows). In newer versions of Windows, type "disk cleanup" (without the quotes) in the search box to the left of the task bar. In earlier versions of Windows, you can find this by navigating (using the Start menu) to All Programs | Accessories | System Tools. This program will get rid of a lot of other non-essential files and could improve the responsiveness of your system.

You'll also want to make sure that Word features that add to document complexity are turned off. For instance, if you've used Word's versioning capabilities with the file, turn them off. If you've turned on AutoSave, turn it off. If you've used Track Changes, then turn it off and resolve all the changes in the document. Then use Save As to save out the document under a new file name.

If you still can't save your edited document, then there is a good chance that the document is corrupted in some way. Corruption can happen without provocation or purpose, particularly with heavily edited documents and with complex documents.

If you suspect corruption, a good thing to do is to try opening the document using the Open and Repair option. First, however, you should make a copy of the document outside of Word. Then use Open and Repair to try to open the copy. Open and Repair is an option available on many of the newer versions of Word; just select the document in the Open dialog box and then click the down-arrow next to the Open button. You can then select Open and Repair.

It is also a good idea to do your file work (whether with Open and Repair or otherwise) on a local hard drive. Don't do it over a network connection, as the connection itself could add complexity or problems that make it harder to solve what is happening.

If you are still having problems, then you'll need to resort to some older, tried-and-true methods to resolve any corruption issues. Load the original file (not the copy you used Open and Repair with) and use Save As to save the document in different formats. For instance, try to save it in RTF format. You can then reload the RTF file and save it back out as a Word document. Your formatting and other document elements should be preserved, but the "round trip" through RTF ends up clearing out any corruption that may have occurred.

If the problem still exists, it could be related to a more complex problem, such as a bad image or a bad link to an object. In this case, the best approach is to slowly copy pieces of your document from the old document to a new one. Just open both the old document and a new, blank document, and start copying parts from old to new. Don't copy over any section breaks; leave those in the old document. (You can always add them later in the new document.) Make sure, as well, that you only copy over pieces of the document that contain no more than a single object, such as a graphic or embedded sound file.

After copying each piece to the new document, save your changes. If you get an error during saving, then you know that the last piece you tried to paste actually contained the problem object, link, or whatever. Go back to the saved version of the new document and rebuild or skip over the problem piece.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9564) 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: Can't Save Edited Document.

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

Saving Your Web Page

Want to save your document as a Web page? It's easy to do in Word; almost as easy as saving your document normally.

Discover More

Turning Off Dynamic Menus

You may want to adjust the way that Excel displays its various menus. This tip explains how you can turn off the dynamic ...

Discover More

Making the 'Welcome Back' Message Consistent and Permanent

When you open a document on which you previously worked, Word displays a "Welcome back" message that can help return you ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Saving Information in a Non-Document Text File

Need to store some information in a plain text file? It's easy to do when you use a macro.

Discover More

Leading Spaces in Document File Names

If you try to add spaces to the beginning of a document's file name, Word normally strips them away. This tip examines ...

Discover More

Modifying the Backup Copy File Name

Backup files, created automatically by Word, have the filename extension WBK and start with the words "Backup of." If you ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 eight more than 6?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu 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.