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: Making Word Remember My Settings.

Making Word Remember My Settings

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 1, 2020)

1

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:

  1. Exit Word.
  2. Start your favorite Registry editor.
  3. Locate the following data key. (This data key, as shown below, is for Word 2016 or a later version. If you are using Word 2007, replace 16.0 with 12.0, for Word 2010 replace it with 14.0, and for Word 2013 replace it with 15.0.)
  4.      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Word\Data
    
  5. Rename the entire key to something else, or simply delete it.
  6. Close the Registry editor.
  7. Restart Word.

Understand that if you delete the data key, you will lose 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, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Making Word Remember My Settings.

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

Turning Off Proofing for Superscripts

When you add superscripts to words in your document, you may not want those superscripts to be spell-checked. Here's how ...

Discover More

Counting Non-Blank Cells

Need to count the number of cells in a range that are not blank? You can use the COUNTA function of a more complex ...

Discover More

Determining Winners, by Category

Do you need to determine the top three values in a range of columns? The techniques discussed in this tip will come in ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Viewing Document Statistics

As you develop a document, Word keeps track of certain statistics about the document itself. Here is how you can review ...

Discover More

Using the Style Area

The style area is an esoteric feature of Word that allows you to easily see the styles applied to the paragraphs in your ...

Discover More

Understanding ASCII and ANSI Characters

Two of the most common character coding schemes used in computers go by the acronyms ASCII and ANSI. This tip explains a ...

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}] 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 5 - 4?

2020-10-01 09:46:22

Jennifer Thomas

Making normal.dotx Read Only is brilliant - I usually know what is saved where (registry v template), but never thought of that trick - thanks!


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.