For the longest time—including back during beta testing—when
using Word 2007, I noticed a lag when switching among document windows. The lag
lasted anywhere from 1 to 5 seconds. The delay occurred in Windows XP Pro,
Windows XP Home, Vista Home Premium, and Vista Ultimate. It happened in Office
2007 Professional, as well as Office Ultimate. I’ve no doubt [now] that it
would’ve occurred in any version of Office 2007. It annoyed me, but I
figured that it was a facto vivire.
That’s fake Latin for “fact of life.” When problems seem
insurmountable, or at least unsolvable, I find that a fake Latin phrase can
help one become resigned to the inevitable. And, as long as the problem was
just my problem, I was content in my resignation.
Then, a few days before I wrote the article you’re now
reading, someone posted about the identical problem in the microsoft.public.word.docmanagement
newsgroup. At that point, being someone who loves to solve other people's
problems more than my own problems, it became my mission to get to the bottom
of it. If you don’t know about Microsoft’s
public newsgroups, by the way, you’re missing out on one of the best places
to get your questions answered. That’s where Dian and I and lots of other MVPs hang
out, giving away solutions and free advice on a silver platter. Well,
a wooden platter, perhaps. But, don’t look a gift platter in the… you know, I
think this mixed metaphor is a dead horse. But, I digress.
I quickly tried several time-worn tricks—such as renaming
Word’s DATA key in the registry (as well as the entire Word registry section),
renaming the folder containing Normal.dotm, as well as burning chicken feathers
on my front lawn. Nothing worked, and I’m pretty sure that the chicken feather bonfire
made the folks renting the house next door move back to New Zealand.
Nothing worked—except, that is, for starting Word
with the /a switch or starting Word in Safe Mode. These are long honored
diagnostic techniques for trying to isolate Word problems. To start Word with
the /a switch in Vista, click the Start icon, type winword /a into the Start Search box, and press Enter (in Windows XP, click Start đ Run, instead). To start in Safe
Mode, hold down the CTRL key when you start Word, and click Yes to the prompt
that asks if you want to start in Safe Mode.
Note that /a and Safe Mode aren’t the same thing. The jury
still seems to be deciding what the differences are in Word 2007, but I’ve been
assured that they’re different. Once the jury comes back, their decision might
make a nice arcane article for TechTrax. Stay tuned.
When starting Word either of these two ways, if your problem
gets “solved,” then the cause most likely is a corrupted registry entry, a
corrupted template (such as Normal.dot or Normal.dotm), or an ill-behaved
add-in of some kind.
I enclosed “solved” in quotes because the solution is only
temporary. The next time Word gets started normally—without benefit of /a or
Safe Mode—the problem comes back.
So, I dug a little deeper. I went through the steps of
renaming even more registry entries and a variety of folders containing
different templates that Word 2007 is fond of using, such as Normal.dotm,
Normal.dot (which Word 2007 will use if it can’t find Normal.dotm), Building
Blocks.dotx, and so on. None of that worked.
I also checked to make sure there was nothing sinister
hiding in Word’s Startup folder. Next, I created a new Windows User account to
see if a pristine user would encounter the same problem. I really hoped that
this trick would not work, because I didn’t want to have to rebuild all of my
user settings. I was both surprised and relieved when it didn’t work to solve
Screaming for Help
So, I did what any good MVP does. I escalated, and asked
other Word MVPs if they were having the same problem. They weren’t, for the
most part (but I’m now sure that some of them eventually would have the
problem). But, Beth Melton mentioned that an Outlook Add-in had caused a
similar problem. So, that got me to thinking and digging more deeply into the
Within two minutes of reading Beth Melton’s amazing hint, I
had discovered the culprit. Thanks to that tip, I can now share the solution
with any other Word 2007 users who are encountering the same problem. Stay
tuned, and I’ll reveal the results of my research and the solution to this
problem next month in TechTrax!
Just kidding. Did you really think I was going to
make you wait?
It turns out, in my case, that the lag was being caused by
the Acrobat PDFMaker Office COM Addin. When I disabled it, the lag was
instant history. As a nice dividend, other Word operations became snappier as
Best of all, disabling the add-in didn't interfere with how
I use Adobe Acrobat Professional 7 in Word—least of all because the add-in
module doesn’t really work in Word 2007, but also because I always print to the
.pdf printer driver to create .pdf files. Even in Word 2003 and earlier, where
the add-in does work, I didn’t use it. Alternatively, if push were to
come to shove, I could also use Word 2007's [semi] native capability to create
.pdf files, but I find that Acrobat's versions are smaller.
So, here are the magic words, so to speak. On the ribbon,
click Office đ Word
Options đ Add-ins. At the
bottom of the window, set Manage to COM Add-ins, and click Go,
for the view shown in Figure 1. Click to remove the check next to Acrobat
PDFMaker Office COM Addin, and if your problem is the same as mine, it will be
Figure 1. Add-ins
often are the cause of sluggishness in Word and other Office programs
If it's not that particular add-in that's causing you grief,
then try selectively disabling others to see if un-checking one or more gets
rid of your delay. Who knows? You might be resigned to a wide variety of
problems that really do have a simple solution.