Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Making Word Remember My Settings.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 18, 2014)
Syd, expressing an emotion that many of us feel from time to time, noted that Word periodically drives him crazy. An example is the behavior of clicking on links in a document. He knows that Word can be configured to activate a link on either a single click or to require that Ctrl be held down while clicking. So, he configures Word to activate the links on a single click, so that Ctrl is not required. A day or two later Syd has to use Ctrl+Click again, his setting apparently forgotten. The same thing happens with his Ruler settings and his settings for capitalizing the first letter of a line. Syd wants to have Word really remember his settings, as that may help to retain his sanity when it comes to using the program.
Word has many, many basic configuration settings hard-coded right into the program. When you make a change to those settings, the changes are generally stored in one of two places: the Normal template or in the Windows Registry. If your configuration settings aren't "holding" for some reason, it is typically due to some problem with the Normal template or the Registry.
Tracking down problems in these areas can be frustrating. For instance, just considering the Normal template, it could be that the changes aren't getting saved in the file, that there is a macro (or macros) changing the settings, that some add-in is adjusting the settings, that the file is stored on a network drive and being overwritten by other users, or that the file is somehow corrupted or on the verge of corruption.
In general, you'll want to find your copy of Normal.dotm (the file name for your Normal template) and make sure that it is only you that can make changes to it. Load the file directly in Word, and then make your configuration changes. Save the file again and then—for added protection—get out of Word and make the file read-only.
This last step is a good safeguard because you never know what is going to affect your settings in the Normal template. There have been reports of settings being changed simply by opening documents created by other people. Once these settings get saved into your copy of the Normal template, then they become your "defaults" and you have to spend time changing them again. If the Normal template is read-only within the operating system, then you have to go through the extra step of changing that setting any time you want changes made to those settings.
Of course, the problem may not be in your Normal template file at all. It could be that somehow the Registry key used for some of your Word settings has become corrupted. The only solution to this problem is to delete the key, restart Word, and then make your settings again. Follow these steps:
Understand that if you delete the data key, you will loose quite a few of your Word settings. If you are a bit squeamish about losing some settings, make sure you only rename the Data key instead of deleting it. That way you can "recover" your previous state by deleting the new Data key (the one created automatically when you restart Word) and changing back the name of the old data key.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13286) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Making Word Remember My Settings.
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