How to troubleshoot issues that occur in Office for Mac on a computer that is running Mac OS X 10.2.x or Mac OS X 10.3.x

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SUMMARY

This article describes the general troubleshooting steps that you can use to resolve issues with Microsoft Office for Mac programs. The troubleshooting steps that are included in this article use the Mac OS X Safe Boot feature to remove preference files and to reinstall software.

INTRODUCTION

This article discusses general troubleshooting steps that you can use to resolve an issue that occurs when you use an Office for Mac program on a computer that is running Mac OS X 10.2.x or Mac OS X10.3.x. Use one of the following methods to troubleshoot an issue in an Office for Mac program. The methods are listed in the order of complexity and intrusiveness. Follow the steps in a specific method, and then work with the Office for Mac program for a sufficient time to determine whether the issue has been resolved before you go to the next method.

Before you perform any one of these methods, make sure that you apply the current updates for the operating system and for the Office for Mac program. All updates for Office for Mac products are located at the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com/mac/downloads
For Apple updates, you can run the software update tool by clicking Software Update on the Apple menu while you are connected to the Internet.

After you install all the required updates, try to reproduce the issue again to see if the issue has been resolved. If the issue still occurs, continue with the appropriate troubleshooting method.

Problems that occur with Microsoft Word for Mac only

If the problem only occurs with Microsoft Word for Mac only, follow these troubleshooting steps:
  1. Open the Microsoft for Mac Office folder.
  2. Click the Word icon, press SHIFT, and then click Open on the File menu. This lets Word for Mac bypass all but the default settings when the program starts.
  3. Try to create a new blank document from the Project Gallery, and then try to reproduce the issue again to see if the issue has been resolved.
If you this issue is not resolved after you use this method, you must remove the Normal file. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Quit all Office for Mac programs.
  2. Use of one the following steps depending on the version of Office for Mac that you are using:
    • For Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac, open the /Users/user_name/Documents/Microsoft User Data folder.
    • For Microsoft Office X for Mac, open the /Applications/Microsoft Office X/Templates folder.
  3. Move the Normal file to the desktop.
  4. Restart Word for Mac, and then try to reproduce the issue again to see if the issue has been resolved.
If this issue is not resolved after you remove the Normal file, return the Normal file back to the folder that you took the file from to replace the new one that was created.

Note While there is a separate file for Microsoft Excel for Mac and Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac toolbars, the Word for Mac toolbar preferences are held inside the Normal file.

Use the Safe Mode in Mac OS X

You can use the Safe Mode to troubleshoot startup issues that occur in Mac OS X 10.2 or later versions.

This method requires that you move the /Library/StartupItems folder. This folder only exists if you installed software that requires that the software start running when you start your computer. Antivirus software and font management software are the most common programs that install items in the /Library/StartupItems folder.

For example, when you try to start Word for Mac, Excel for Mac, and PowerPoint for Mac, you experience the issue where the programs do not start as expected. However, the programs may suddenly start as expected after you start the programs in Safe Mode.

To start an Office for Mac program in Safe Mode, follow these steps in the order that they are presented.

Create and move a StartupItems folder

  1. Create a folder on the desktop, and then name the folder StartupItems.
  2. Locate theMac HD/Library/StartupItems folder.
  3. Move the StartupItems folder to the General folder.
  4. Quit all open windows.

Restart your computer

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Press the power button.
  3. Immediately after you hear the startup tone, press and hold the SHIFT key.

    Note The SHIFT key should be held as soon as possible after you hear the startup tone. However, do not press the SHIFT key before you hear the startup tone.
  4. Release the SHIFT key when you see the gray Apple and progress indicator on the screen. The progress indicator looks similar to a spinning gear.
  5. During the startup, you will see the words "Safe Boot" on the Mac OS X startup screen.
    1. If the Mac OS X is configured to startup to the login screen, log on as the user who is running the Office for Mac software. Otherwise, skip this step.
    2. Immediately press the SHIFT key. This will bypass any startup items in the StartupItems folder.
  6. Start the Office for Mac program, and then try to reproduce the issue again to see if the issue has been resolved.
  7. If the issue does not occur, follow these steps to determine which startup item may be causing the issue:
    1. Open the Mac HD/Library folder.
    2. If there is no folder named StartupItems present, click File, and then click New Folder. Name this folder StartupItems.
    3. Open the StartupItems folder.
    4. On the desktop, open the StartupItems folder inside the General folder that you created earlier.
    5. Drag one or more related startup items to the StartupItems folder that you created in step b.
    6. Restart your computer.
    7. Test to see if the problem occurs.
    8. If the problem does not occur, repeat steps c through g for the next startup item.

  8. If the issue does occur, remove the last startup item that you had returned to the StartupItems folder. You may want to contact the software manufacturer of the startup item for a newer version.

After you finish performing this troubleshooting step, follow these steps to restore the startup items:
  1. Open the StartupItems folder on the desktop.
  2. Move the StartupItems folder to the Mac HD/Library folder.
  3. Restart your computer.


When you perform a Safe Boot, the following items are affected:
  • Safe Boot forces a directory check of the startup volume.
  • Safe Boot loads only required kernel extensions. For example, Safe Boot loads those items in the /System/Library/Extensions folder.
  • Safe Boot runs only Apple-installed startup items. Some of theses items are in the /Library/StartupItems and /System/Library/StartupItems folders. These items are different from logon items.
  • If your computer uses an AirPort card, the card will be disabled.

For more information about Safe Mode and Safe Boot, visit the following AppleCare article:
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=107392

The Repair Disk Permissions option

You can use the Repair Disk Permissions option to troubleshoot permissions issues in Mac OS X 10.2 or later versions. If the permissions for your Microsoft software are incorrect, the Office for Mac programs may be slow to start or may have a slower performance. To use the Repair Disk Permissions option, follow these steps:
  1. On the Go menu, click Utilities.
  2. Start the Disk Utility program.
  3. Click the primary hard disk drive for your computer.
  4. Click the First Aid tab.
  5. Click Repair Disk Permissions.
Note The Disk Utility program only repairs software that is installed by Apple. This program also repairs folders such as the Applications folder. However, this program does not repair software that is in your home folder.

For more information about the Repair Disk Permissions option, visit the following AppleCare article:
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=106712

Move the Office preferences files to the desktop

If you have an Office for Mac program that unexpectedly quits when you try to start it or that stops responding frequently, there may be an issue with that program's preference files.

To move the preference files, follow these steps.

Note If multiple programs have similar problems, move the whole Microsoft folder to the desktop instead of moving just the preference files for one program when you follow these steps. Try to start one of the programs to see if the issue still occurs.
  1. Quit any Office for Mac program that is running.
  2. Create a folder on the desktop and name the folder Preferences.
  3. On the Go menu click Home.
  4. Open the Library/Preferences/Microsoft folder.
  5. Drag the Microsoft preference files that belongs to the program that is experiencing the issue to the Preferences folder on the desktop.

    Note The Office 2004 programs use file name extension "prefs.plist" for the files that store the preference settings for each application. Additionally, the Office X programs have a "(10)" appended to name of each preferences.
  6. Start the Office for Mac program, and then try to reproduce the issue again to see if the issue has been resolved.

Office for Mac programs will re-create their preference files, using the default values for each.

If moving the preference files out of the Library/Preferences/Microsoft folder does not resolve the issue, put the Microsoft preference files back in to the Library/Preferences/Microsoft folder to replace the new preferences files that were created.

If these steps resolve the issue, you can test each preference file for the Office for Mac program that is in question until you determine which file in the Microsoft preference folder is the cause of the issue. After you find the file that is causing the issue, you can put the rest of the preference files back in to the Library/Preferences/Microsoft folder to replace the new preference files that were created.

For more information about additional troubleshooting steps for Microsoft for Mac programs, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
312209 Error message when you open Word: The application Microsoft Word has unexpectedly quit
313535 How to troubleshoot font problems in Office for Mac programs

Move the "com.microsoft.program_name.plist" files to the desktop

If the issue is not resolved after you move the preference files, you can move the "com.microsoft.program_name.plist" files to the Preferences folder that you in the "Move the Office preferences files to the desktop" section. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. On the Go menu click Home.
  2. Open the Library/Preferences folder.
  3. Locate the preference files that start with "com.microsoft."
  4. Move the "com.microsoft.program_name.plist" file in the Preferences folder on the desktop. In this step, the placeholder program_name is the name of the Office 2004 for Mac program that you are troubleshooting.
  5. Start the Office for Mac program, and then try to reproduce the issue again to see if the issue has been resolved.
If this method does not resolve the issue, put the "com.microsoft.program_name.plist" file back into the Library/Preferences folder to replace the new one that has been created.

Create a new user

You may notice that every time that you start an Office for Mac program, the computer will stop responding or the program will quit. If you have tried removing the preference files and are still receiving the errors, creating a new user will help determine whether the error is limited to just the user or is system wide. To do this, follow these steps.
  1. On the Apple menu, click System Preferences.
  2. If some settings are unavailable, click the lock icon, and then type an administrator name and password.
  3. Click Add (+), and then type the user's name.
  4. Type a short name if you do not want to use the short name that is automatically generated.
  5. Type the user's password in the Password and Verify boxes.
  6. Click Limitations, and then give that user permission to administer the computer.
  7. Log off from the current account.
  8. Log on to the new user account.
  9. Start the Office for Mac program, and then try to reproduce the issue again to see if the issue has been resolved.

If the issue no longer occurs, the issue exists within the user’s home folder. If you think that the user account was responsible, you can continue troubleshooting by using the new user account.

Note You should contact Apple if you need help with moving your user files to the new account.

Remove and then reinstall the Office for Mac program

If the following conditions are true, you will have to remove all copies of Office for Mac from your computer:
  • All your Office for Mac programs are unexpectedly quitting.
  • You are receiving an Office Test Drive error message.
To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Run the Remove Office utility in the Additional Tools/Remove Office folder on the Office 2004 for Mac CD or Office X for Mac CD.
  2. Select the appropriate versions of Microsoft Office for Mac from the Results list.
  3. Empty the Trash.

    Note If you receive any error messages when you empty the Trash, repeat this step until you no longer receive any error messages.
  4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 until the Remove Office utility no longer finds Office components.
  5. Run the Remove Office utility again, let the utility finish, quit the utility, and then run the utility again.
  6. Restart the computer.
  7. Install Office for Mac.
For more information, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
312172 How to remove Office v. X for Mac and Office 2004 for Mac Standard Edition from your computer
871018 Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Installation Read Me
311939 How to install Office v. X for Mac OS X (10.1)

Install a clean version of Mac OS X

You should install a clean version of the Mac OS X if the following conditions are true:
  • When other troubleshooting steps cannot resolve the issue.
  • When the issue appears to be operating system related.
You may notice when that you open an Office for Mac program, that you may receive an error message that states that a carbon file or a framework file is required and is missing. You may also notice that other Office for Mac programs are experiencing issues also.

Before you install a clean copy of Mac OS X, use the Remove Office utility to remove Office for Mac from your computer. This utility also removes any preferences from the Library/Preferences folder in your home folder that pertain to Office for Mac. This include the Microsoft Office folder and the Microsoft preferences folder.

If you more information about how to install a clean copy of Mac OS X, contact Apple. You can contact Apple support at 1-800-275-2273 or visit the Apple Care support Web site for more information:
http://www.apple.com/support

Properties

Article ID: 892428 - Last Review: July 10, 2012 - Revision: 5.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Entourage 2004 for Mac
  • Microsoft Excel 2004 for Mac
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2004 for Mac
  • Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac
  • Microsoft Office X for Mac Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Excel X for Mac
  • Microsoft PowerPoint X for Mac
  • Microsoft Word X for Mac
  • Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac Version 6.1
  • Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac Version 7
Keywords: 
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