How to optimize Word 2003, Word 2002, and Word 2000

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Summary

This step-by-step article describes how to optimize performance in Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Word 2002, and Microsoft Word 2000.
Note If you are unfamiliar with any of the terms that are described in this article, see the "Glossary" section later in this article.

Increase the RAM

The memory that Word requires to run at optimum speed depends on a variety of factors, such as how many other programs are running at the same time and the types of operations that Word performs.

For increased performance, and if you plan to run additional programs at the same time, you can improve performance by adding more memory.

If you regularly work with large documents (50 pages or more) or use graphics or embedded objects in your documents, adding RAM yields the most dramatic improvement to the operating speed of Word.
Note To make sure that all the RAM is available for use by the operating system and programs, make sure that you do not use any RAM for a RAM drive.

Defragment the hard disk

To defragment the hard disk, periodically use a utility such as the Windows Disk Defragmenter. Disk Defragmenter analyzes local volumes; Disk Defragmenter consolidates fragmented files and folders so that the files and folders occupy contiguous spaces on the volume. Therefore, the computer access speed to files and folders is increased. Disk Defragmenter and third-party disk optimization software help to minimize the area on the disk where Microsoft Windows looks for information.

To use Disk Defragmenter, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Disk Defragmenter.
  2. Click to select the volume that you want to defragment, and then click Defragment.
  3. After the defragmentation is complete, Disk Defragmenter displays the results in the Defragmentation display. Click View Report to view the Defragmentation Report that shows detailed information about the volume that you defragmented.
Note Make sure that you create backup copies of important files before you perform the defragmentation operation.

Optimize virtual memory use

With virtual memory, a program sees a large, continuous block of primary memory (RAM) that, in reality, is a much smaller block of primary memory that is supplemented by secondary memory such as a hard disk. To temporarily free space in RAM, blocks of data (pages) are moved between RAM and a paging file that is located on the hard disk.

By default, the Windows paging file is dynamic. Therefore, the paging file can change size based on available disk space and the operations that are performed on the system. The paging file can also occupy a fragmented region of the hard disk with no substantial performance penalty. A dynamic paging file is typically the most efficient use of resources. For high virtual memory performance, make sure that the disk that contains the paging file has plenty of free space, so that the paging file size can change as necessary.

Because the Windows paging file is dynamic, you do not typically have to change virtual memory settings. However, in some situations, adjusting virtual memory settings can improve performance. If you still experience a performance issue after you free space on the hard disk by deleting unnecessary files, you may want to change the default virtual memory settings.

If you have more than one drive on the computer, you may receive better performance if you specify that Windows locate the paging file on a drive other than the default drive if either or both of the following conditions are true:
  • The default drive has almost no available free space, and another local drive contains more available free space .
  • Another local drive is faster and less heavily used than the current drive.
You also may receive better performance if you specify that the minimum disk space available for virtual memory is at least two times the available RAM. For example, if a computer has 64 MB of RAM, specify at least 128 MB of virtual memory.

Note Unless you are an advanced user, Microsoft recommends that you let Windows manage virtual memory settings. Whenever possible, use the default virtual memory settings. For information about virtual memory settings in Windows, see Windows Help.

Use fewer fonts

If you use many fonts, there may be an effect on performance, such as when you print or preview a document for the first time. Additionally, dialog boxes such as the Font dialog box or the Symbol dialog box may take a longer time to appear the first time that you view them. Word may use additional memory and file resources when it must perform some complex actions when multiple fonts are used.

Use lower screen resolution and color settings

Configure your display settings to use the correct video driver to receive the fastest screen display. You may not have to use the maximum screen resolution or the maximum color settings that are supported by your video driver. Additional color support can dramatically reduce the speed of screen updates when you scroll or update graphics.

For some operations, such as writing reports and working with spreadsheets, you may want to configure your display settings to use a lower screen resolution and color setting such as 256 Colors.

If there is no increase in performance or if you require additional display capabilities, you can always specify a higher resolution and color setting.

Store documents on uncompressed drives

When you compress a hard disk, you create more free space where you can store files. Although more disk space is available, disk compression can slow the performance of programs that run on that drive.

The primary reason for performance degradation when you run third-party disk compression programs is that each time a read or write operation is made to or from the hard disk, data must be decompressed or compressed. This decompression or compression operation places an additional demand on the processor in your computer.

Computers with faster processors may not experience performance degradation after compression software is installed.

Store documents on the local hard disk

Running Word from a floppy disk or a network drive may be slower than running Word from files that are stored on the local hard disk. Additionally, working with files that are located on a floppy disk or a network drive may be slower than working from files that are stored on the local hard disk.

Try to avoid working with files that are located on a floppy disk. Instead, copy the files to your local hard disk, and then work with the local copy on your hard disk.

When you are finished with a file, save your changes, and then close the file before you copy the file back to its original location.

Turn off the "Use printer metrics to lay out document" option

When you work with documents that were created in Microsoft Word 6.0 or Microsoft Word for Windows 95, turn off the Use printer metrics to lay out document option.

When you do so, Word does not check printer settings to calculate formatting and layout. Therefore, scrolling speed is increased.

Note By default, this option is enabled in documents that are converted to preserve Word for Windows 95 or Word 6.0 for Windows document formatting. Turning off this option may cause minor changes in line wrapping or document pagination. To turn off the Use printer metrics to lay out document option, follow these steps:
  1. Open a document created in Microsoft Word 6.0 or Microsoft Word for Windows 95 using Word 2003.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Compatibility tab.
  3. Click to clear the Use printer metrics to lay out document check box, and then click OK.

Use background saves option

By default, the Allow background saves option is turned on. With this option, you can continue working in Word while you save a document.

This option uses additional system memory. If you want to conserve system resources, you may want to turn off this option. To turn the Allow background saves option off or on, follow these steps:
  1. Start Word.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Save tab.
  3. Click to select or click to clear the Allow background saves check box, and then click OK.
Note When Word saves a document in the background, a pulsing disk icon appears on the status bar. If Word cannot save a document in the background, Word saves the document in the foreground. For example, this may occur if there is not sufficient free disk space available or if you save a document to a floppy disk.

Turn off automatic spelling and grammar check

By default, Word automatically checks spelling and grammar as you type. Spelling errors are marked by using wavy red underlines and grammatical errors are marked by using wavy green underlines. On some computers, these options can adversely affect performance.

To turn off automatic spelling and grammar checking, follow these steps:
  1. Start Word.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
  3. Click to clear the Check spelling as you type check box and the Check grammar as you type check box, and then click OK.

Use different view settings

Use one or more of the following methods to optimize the way that you view your document in Word:
  • Whenever you can, use Normal view instead of Print Layout view. In Print Layout view, Word takes a longer time to redraw the screen and to repaginate the document. To change to Normal view, click Normal on the View menu.
  • Use the Picture placeholders option if your document contains extensive graphics. This option displays an empty box instead of each graphic in your document. By doing so, you increase the speed that you can scroll through and display a document that contains many graphics. To use the Picture placeholders option, follow these steps:
    1. Start Word.
    2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the View tab.
    3. Under Show, click to select the Picture placeholders check box, and then click OK.
  • Turn on the Draft font option to speed up screen display in documents that contain extensive formatting and graphics. This option displays characters using the font and size you selected in the Outline and Normal options field. To turn on the Draft font option, follow these steps:
    1. Start Word.
    2. On the View menu, click Normal.
    3. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the View tab.
    4. Under Outline and Normal options, click to select the Draft font check box, and then click OK.

Adjust printer settings to improve printing speed

To optimize printing, use one of the following methods.
  • Optimize printing of large documents
    To optimize printing of print large documents, turn off any screen savers during the print job or switch to a blank screen saver. Animated screen savers use computer processor time and may take time away from the processing of your print job. For more information about how to change your screen saver settings, see Windows Help.
  • Print proofs quickly
    Turn on the Draft output option. When you use this option, the document prints with minimal formatting. Because of this, the document may print faster. This option is ideal for printing proofs. To turn on the Draft output option, follow these steps.

    Note Some printers may not support this option.
    1. Start Word.
    2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Print tab.
    3. Under Printing options, click to select the Draft output check box, and then click OK.
  • Use the background printing option that best fits your requirements When background printing is turned on, you can continue to work in Word while your document prints in the background. Background printing uses additional memory, and your document may print more slowly. When background printing is turned off, your document prints faster. However you cannot work in Word until the print job is complete. If you do not have to continue working in Word while your document prints, turn off background printing to speed up printing. To do so, follow these steps:
    1. Start Word.
    2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Print tab.
    3. Click to clear the Background printing check box, and then click OK.
  • Change your print spooler settings Printer speed is measured by the return to application (RTA) speed and by the printer page drop speed. The RTA is defined as the time from when you click Print to when you regain control of the program. The printer page drop speed is defined as the time from when you click Print to when the print job is complete. You can modify both the RTA and printer page drop speed by changing printer spool settings. To change printer spool settings, follow these steps:
    1. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
    2. Right-click the printer that you want to use, and then click Properties.
    3. Click the Advanced tab.
    4. Do one of the following:
      • For a faster RTA speed: click Start printing immediately if it is not already selected.
      • For a faster printer page drop speed: click Print directly to the printer.
      Note If the local printer is shared, the Print directly to the printer option is unavailable. Sometimes this option prevents laser printer engines from turning on and off during a print job.
    5. Click OK.

Turn off Outlook Journal options

You can configure the Journal in Microsoft Outlook to automatically record items such as when you open, close, and save documents. On some computers, this may cause a noticeable delay during the open, close, or save operation. To turn off Outlook Journal options, follow these steps:
  1. Start Outlook.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  3. In the Contacts area, click Journal Options.
  4. Click to clear all the check boxes in the Automatically record these items area, and then click OK,
  5. Click OK to close the Options dialog box.

Use a different Windows desktop theme

Changing the Windows desktop themes may increase performance on some computers. To change the desktop theme, follow these steps:
  1. Right-click an empty area of the desktop, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the Themes tab.
  3. In the Theme box, click the theme that you want to use (for example click Windows Classic), and then click OK. Note The theme that you select must not be graphic-intensive. It must be as simple a theme as possible to save memory.

Turn off the mouse scheme

Turning off the animated mouse scheme increases system performance. However, the increase in performance may not be noticeable on some computers. To turn off the mouse scheme, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Double-click the Mouse icon.
  3. Click the Pointers tab.
  4. In the Scheme box, click None, and then click OK.

Speed up downloading Web pages by not generating graphics images

Use this procedure if you save your document as Web pages and view them in a Web browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or later, that supports Vector Markup Language (VML). It takes less time to download and view a Web page and uses less disk space if graphics are not downloaded each time that you open the page. To view your documents in a Web browser, follow these steps:
  1. Start Word.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options, click the General tab, click Web Options, and then click the Browsers tab.
  3. Under Target browsers, click the browser that you want to use in the People who view this Web page will be using box.
  4. Under Options, click to select the Rely on VML for displaying graphics in browsers check box.
  5. Click OK.

Save documents in the current format

When you open a document that has been saved in a different file format, a conversion engine runs. This process may cause the document to open slowly. To improve performance, save the document in the current format. For example, if you are working in Word 2003, save the document as a Word document (.doc).

Turn off the "Update automatic links on Open" option

When you turn off the Update automatic links on Open option, documents may open faster. You can manually update links later. To turn off the Update automatic links on Open option, follow these steps:
  1. Start Word.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the General tab.
  3. Click to clear the Update automatic links on Open check box, and then click OK.
To manually update links, follow these steps:
  1. Start Word.
  2. On the Edit menu, click Links.
  3. Click the Source file that you want to update, and then click Update Now.

Turn off the "Recently used file list" option

To turn off the Recently used file list option, follow these steps:
  1. Start Word.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the General tab.
  3. Click to clear the Recently used file list check box, and then click OK.

Turn off the cut and paste options

When you turn off the Smart cut and paste option and the Show Paste Options button option, Word may perform better. To turn off these options, follow these steps:
  1. Start Word.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Edit tab.
  3. Click to clear the Show Paste Options button and the Smart cut and paste check boxes, and then click OK.

Turn off the Startup Task Pane

To turn off the Startup Task Pane, follow these steps:
  1. Start Word.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click View.
  3. Click to clear the Show Startup Task Pane check box, and then click OK.

Turn off ScreenTips

For some items in Word, such as comments, tracked changes, or hyperlinks, a short description appears when the mouse pointer rests over the object. This description is known as a ScreenTip. When you turn off ScreenTips, Word may perform better.

To turn off ScreenTips, follow these steps:
  1. Start Word.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click View.
  3. Click to clear the ScreenTips check box, and then click OK.

Use local folders instead of redirected folders when you access data across a Wide Area Network (WAN)

Word may perform slowly when you use a WAN and when the folders that you access for data have been redirected to a location on the server.

Note An example of a folder that you access for data is the Application Data folder.

To improve performance, consider one of the following methods:
  • Use local folders instead of redirected folders.
  • Use roaming profiles instead of redirecting system folders.

Glossary

  • Uncompressed drive
    A drive that does not have its data compressed to take up less space.
  • Driver
    A program that makes it possible for a specific device such as a video adapter or printer to communicate with the operating system. Although a device may be installed, Windows cannot use the device until you have installed and configured the appropriate driver.
  • Pagination
    The arrangement of the layout of a document, specifically where page breaks are located in a document.
  • Paging file
    A hidden file on the hard disk that Windows uses to hold parts of programs and data files that do not fit in memory. The paging file and physical memory, or RAM, make up virtual memory. Windows moves data from the paging file to memory and moves data from memory to the paging file to make room for new data. "Swap file" is another name for a paging file.
  • Virtual memory
    Temporary storage that is used by a computer to run programs that require more memory than it has in RAM. For example, programs can have access to 4 gigabytes (GB) of virtual memory on a computer's hard disk, even if the computer has only 32 MB of RAM. The program data that does not currently fit in the computer's memory is saved in paging files.

References

For more information about other ways to improve how applications perform, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
328237 Some programs do not work as expected when large files are opened
313937 The program stops responding when you try to open or to save a file in an Office 2002 program and in an Office 2003 program
280821 Word is slow to start, print, or load documents
For more technical information about Word and about other Microsoft Office 2003 products, visit the Microsoft Office 2003 Support Center at the following Microsoft Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com/ph/2488

Properties

Article ID: 827101 - Last Review: September 4, 2012 - Revision: 7.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Word 2002
  • Microsoft Word 2000
Keywords: 
kbhowtomaster KB827101

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