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: Factory Default Settings for Word.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 28, 2020)
There may be times when you want to set Word back to a pristine, first-installed condition. For instance, you may be offering Word training, and you want to reset Word between each class offered. Many people think that the easiest way to do this is to simply allow Word to recreate the Normal.dot template. While this will restore some settings to their first-used state (such as macros, toolbars, and the like), it will not do the entire trick.
Other suggestions may include uninstalling and reinstalling Word. This, however, will not lead to a pristine version of Word. Many of the configuration settings unique to Word are stored in the Registry. The uninstall process does not remove all option settings stored in the Registry and many of these will be picked up after the re-install so that Word can use them. This is ideal for those who are upgrading—they get to keep their settings rather than find the upgrade overwriting them. However, it's not so useful for those who are looking to get a completely 'clean' install with no throwbacks to previous installs. Thus, after an uninstall, it is likely to be necessary to edit the Registry to remove the settings.
You should remember that you cannot do "resetting" of Word while the program is running. This is because Word saves configuration information as it exits. If you make changes and then exit, you overwrite any resetting you did.
You should make sure you rename the Normal.dotx file to a different name. In fact, it is a good idea to look for any file that begins with the word "Normal" and then look at the filename extensions for those files to determine if you should rename them. You should also remove any files from the Startup folder.
This is not the end of the process; you also need to make a few changes to the Registry. You may want to protect yourself from potential problems by backing up the Registry first, and then you can accomplish the following steps:
Understand that when you make all these changes, there are still a couple of settings that can then only be changed by a complete reinstall. For instance, the company name you entered when you first installed Word is actually stored in the Word program file. There are also other files that can be changed during the course of using Word, but you cannot "reset" by simply deleting them. An example would be any file on your system ending with the .ACL file name extension. These are used for shared and user-specific AutoCorrect settings. If you simply delete the files, you are removing all AutoCorrect settings, not setting them back to factory defaults.
For additional information about resetting options and Registry settings, you may find the following useful:
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12864) 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: Factory Default Settings for Word.
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