Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 11, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


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, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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

Replacing Text and Capitalizing a Letter in One Step

The Find and Replace capabilities of Word are very powerful. You can even use them to do some complex and specific ...

Discover More

Faster Text File Conversions

Want to make your importing of text data faster than ever? Here are some ideas you can apply right away.

Discover More

Searching a Workbook by Default

When you display the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box, you'll notice that any search, by default, will be on ...

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)

Resetting Ribbons

Word allows you to customize the program's ribbon tabs so they more closely match the way you want to work. At some ...

Discover More

Page Layout Zoom Settings

The zoom setting at which you view a document can sometimes be saved with a document. This tip explains how the zoom ...

Discover More

Understanding the Clipboard

You can use the Clipboard to move information around in Word. You actually have access to two different clipboards in ...

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 five more than 6?

2022-06-11 05:52:49

Ron

Good tip. A couple of tweaks I use.
For normal.dotm, setting the file attribute to read-only is good.
Along with that in File menu > Options command > Advanced options > Save section > turn on "Prompt before saving Normal.dotm"
With this setting, if you make changes that need to be saved in Normal.dotm, Word will ask if you want to save changes. If you don't know what the change was, simply say "NO". If you really do want to ave the change you say yes. At which point you'll be told you can't save to that file name. No problem! Save with a new name, I like to add the date to the END of the file name, ie Normal 2022 06 11.dotm.
After Word closes, go to the folder where Normal.DOTM is stored.
COPY the most recently saved, ie Normal 2022 06 11.DOTM to Copy of Normal 2022 06 11.DOTM.
Delete the current Normal.DOTM.
Rename to remove "copy of" and the date "2022 06 11" to create a new NORMAL.DOTM
Turn on the Read Only file attribute.
.
So now you have a backup copy of the most current NORMAL.DOTM and a working copy. If the working copy gets messed up you can just delete it and make a new renamed copy of the backup. No settings are lost.
.
For the registry key, instead of deleting it, EXPORT it (say to the same folder as Normal.DOTM).
That way, if you want to, you can restore the registry key by IMPORTing it back in to the registry.

Here are some tips for finding Normal.DOTM

Find Normal.DOTM
Make sure all Word sessions are closed
Method 1
In File Explorer a shortcut to navigate to the template folder
• copy and paste the folder path %AppData%\Microsoft\Templates into the Address box, and press the Enter key
Method 2
In Word look in File menu > Options command > Advanced option > General section > File Locations button > User Templates location.
.
Method 3
In Word,
. * press Alt+F11; the Visual Basic Editor opens.
. * Press Ctrl+G to activate the Immediate window.
. * In that window, type (or paste)

NormalTemplate.OpenAsDocument

and press Enter.
.
Method 4
• http://www.addbalance.com/word/normaltemplate.htm
• http://addbalance.com/word/normaltemplate.htm#Find


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.

Videos
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.