WD2000: "Word Cannot Create the Work File" Error Message When You Open a File


When you attempt to open or edit documents in Microsoft Word, you may receive one or both of the following messages:

Word cannot create the work file, check the TEMP environment variable.
Warning: You are working without a Word work file, and memory is nearly full. Save your work.


This behavior can occur under any of the following conditions:

  • The Data subkey in the Windows Registry is corrupted. Many of the Word settings that you customize when you click Options on the Tools menu are stored in the Data subkey.

  • If you are running Word in a Terminal Server session using Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Server, Terminal Server Edition and Citrix Metaframe, incorrect TEMP variables may passed from Terminal Server and Citrix Metaframe to Word. As a result, Word is unable to create a Temp file.

  • The files that you are attempting to open or edit are very large. The default internal cache size of Word is 64 kilobytes (KB). By opening or editing very large documents, you can generate large temporary files that may tax the internal cache. This behavior can occur especially when you are working with multiple documents and using features such as Autocorrect and Print Layout.


To resolve this issue, use one of the following methods as appropriate to your situation.

Method 1: The Data Subkey in the Windows Registry Is Corrupted

Use the /a command switch to start Word. The /a switch allows you to start Word without loading the Data registry subkey.

For additional information about how to start Word by using the /a command switch, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

232605 WD2000: How to Ignore User Settings When You Start Word
If the error messages described in the "Symptoms" section of this article do not appear when you start Word with the /a command switch, delete the Data subkey, and then rename the Normal.dot file. These actions reset all options to their default settings. Word rebuilds the Data subkey by using the default settings the next time that you start Word.

Method 2: Incorrect TEMP Variable from Terminal Server and Citrix Metaframe

Check the TEMP variable on Terminal Server, and ensure that the variable is correctly configured.

For additional information about how to determine the TEMP variable on Terminal Server with Citrix Metaframe, please refer to the following Citrix Knowledge Base document:

CTX885230 How to Determine a Temp Directory from a Session ID
To view this document, browse to the following Citrix Web site, click Search by Document ID, and then type CTX885230:
For additional information about configuring temporary folders on Windows Terminal Server, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

272464 How Windows Terminal Server Uses Temporary Folders
243555 Terminal Services Temporary Folder Configuration Is Stored in Multiple Registry Locations

Method 3: The Files That You Are Attempting to Open or Edit Are Very Large

Increase Word's internal cache size by using the RegistryOptions macro in the Support9.dot file. The RegistryOptions macro can be used to modify Word settings that are stored in the Windows registry, including the size of the Word file cache.

For additional information about how to install the Support9.dot file and use the RegistryOptions macro, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

237356 WD2000: How to Access Sample Macros for Word 2000

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