Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Files Opening Slowly If Many Files Exist.

Files Opening Slowly If Many Files Exist

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 19, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007 and 2010


Lew has some directories that have a lot of document files in them. When he opens a document from that long list of files, Word seems to take a long time to actually do the opening. He wonders if this is a problem with Word or a problem with Windows.

If all you want to do is discover whether the problem is related to Word or Windows, there is an easy way to figure it out: Copy one of the files to its own directory. Grab a watch with a second hand and time how long it takes to open the copy in its own directory. Then, time how long it takes to open the original file in the directory with all the other files.

If it takes just as long to open both files, the problem is most likely with Word. If the file copy opens quicker than the original one, then the problem is most likely with Windows.

If you determine that the problem is with Word, then chances are good that the problem is related to either the size and complexity of the documents you are opening or the document (if the problem only happens with one of two of them) may be on the verge of corruption. The only thing you can do if the issue is size and complexity is to simplify the document, perhaps by breaking it into multiple documents instead of one large document. If you suspect the document is flirting with corruption, you can search through the WordTips website to figure out how to deal with document corruption.

If you suspect the problem is with Windows, then you should reduce the number of files in the original directory. Check to make sure that the directory with all your documents doesn't have any non-document files in it. Get rid of any temporary files and move any backup files to a different directory. You may also want to restructure your directory into multiple directories. It is also a good idea to defragment your hard drive; the slowness could be related to a severely fragmented disk.

Finally, you should understand that the problem might even be related to the version of Windows you are using. In Windows 7, for example, Windows Explorer by default has a preview pane. If you are viewing the directory in Windows Explorer prior to double-clicking to open the document, it takes time and resources to display the information in the preview pane. Interestingly, the preview handler for Word files is WINWORD.EXE, the same program that opens the document. This means that multiple instances of WINWORD may be running, each of which request additional resources and adds to the perception of system slowness. You can speed things up by turning off, within Windows, the preview pane.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11591) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Files Opening Slowly If Many Files Exist.

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 six less than 9?

2015-03-10 11:34:58


Marilyn, your problem may not be with Word.
This page is a little daunting because it is pretty comprehensive, but should be helpful:

Take it one step at a time. If you can't figure it out by following the steps, ask a geek friend (or any 11-year-old) for some help.

2015-03-10 10:31:41


Marilyn, your problem may or may not be with Word.

First try Disk Cleanup (type CLEANUP in the search field in the Start menu). Then open it from the results. Choose to scan the C: drive, and wait for it to scan. Once it scans and displays potential files to delete, clicking on each one will display a description at the bottom to help give you an idea of what that item is.

It will also display how much space you will reclaim.

After you've made your decisions, click OK, and confirm that you want to permanently delete those files. Let it run. It will disappear when it is finished, and most people notice the difference.

You may have a full hard drive, viruses, or other malware which is not picked up by your antivirus software. Microsoft has free antivirus software, and has a free malware removal tool. Watch as you install for prechecked boxes. At the end of the Malwarebytes setup, the "free trial" box will be prechecked - UNCHECK that. "Trial" in the software industry is a code word for "will require payment later". Malwarebytes is not expensive and is good. The free version you have to run manually (TIP: Set a calendar reminder to run it every week). The paid version runs automatically, but anything that runs or checks for updates automatically slows down your computer.

You might also want to check out this page:

It's a little in-depth, but if you take things step-by-step you (or a tech-savvy friend) should be able to figure it out. Once you know how to do each step, it only takes a few minutes.

2015-01-28 10:00:30

Gabriel Lajoie

I have a very large Form that takes about a minute to open. Is there tips on the most efficient way (lightest way) to build a form on Word?



2012-04-19 18:50:42

Marilyn Hayner

My problem is with Word 2010. It takes a long time to close a file. Is this a 2010 problem? Is there anything I can do to remedy this? Also, we use an add-on program (document assembly) that takes a long time to open in Word 2010. My co-workers who use Word 2007 do not have this problem; everything is much faster on their systems than on mine (a newer computer than either of them has).

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.


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