How to use a "clean startup" to determine whether background programs are interfering with Office for Mac

This article describes how to start your computer by using a minimal set of drivers and startup programs so that you can determine whether a background program is interfering with Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 applications. This kind of startup is known as a "clean startup" or "Safe Boot."

When you start your operating system by using a normal startup, several applications and services start automatically and then run in the background. These programs include basic system processes, antivirus software, system utilities, and other software. These applications and services can sometimes cause interference when you install or run Office for Mac. The steps in this article may help isolate the problem if you receive an error message when you install or start the product or if the application crashes or closes unexpectedly.

This article is intended for the beginning to intermediate computer user.

You may find it helpful to print this article before you follow the steps.

More information


You must be logged on as an administrator or as a member of the Administrators group on the computer to perform the methods that this article contains. If this is your personal computer, you are likely already logged on with an administrator account. If this is a computer that is part of a network at work, you might have to ask the system administrator for help.

Perform a Safe Boot

To start an Office for Mac application in Safe Boot mode, follow these steps in the order in which they are presented.

Note These steps are for Mac OS X 10.4.x or a later version of the Mac operating system.

Step 1: Restart your computer in Safe Mode

  1. Shut down the computer. To do this, click the Apple icon, and then select Shut Down.
  2. Start your computer by pressing the power button.
  3. Immediately after you hear the startup tone, press and hold the Shift key.

    Note Press the Shift key 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 the progress indicator on the screen. The progress indicator resembles a spinning gear. This might take a while (up to two minutes). Wait and do not restart the computer again. During startup, you will see Safe Boot displayed in the login window. (This appears even if you normally log in automatically.)
    1. If Mac OS X is configured to start up 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 bypasses any startup items in the StartupItems folder.

Step 2: Determine whether the problem is resolved

After the computer starts, try to start the affected program or installation to determine whether the problem is resolved.
  • If the problem does not occur after the clean startup, the interference is occurring because of a background program or service. In this case, see the "Determine what is causing the problem" section.
  • If the problem continues after you perform the clean startup, the interference is not occurring because of a background program or service. In this case, this article cannot resolve your problem. Restart your computer again to return to normal operation.

Step 3: Determine what is causing the problem

To do this, follow these steps:
  1. On the Apple menu, click System Preferences.

  2. Select Accounts.

  3. On the left side of the window, the account is displayed and is selected. On the right side of the window, select Login Items.

    • All the items that are displayed here are set to start during a normal startup of the operating system. If the item is marked with a check mark, that item will be hidden and will not be started during a safe restart.
    • If you cannot make changes, click the lock icon at the lower-left corner of the window. Enter your Mac user password at the prompt, and then click OK to toggle the lock to the unlocked position. After the lock is toggled to the unlocked position, you can make changes.

  4. To remove an item, select the item, and then click the minus sign (-) that is below the list.


    Note When you remove the item, this does not remove the application. You can add the item later by clicking the plus sign (+) on this screen. However, you must know the path of the item (the application) to be able to add it back.
  5. Remove the items one at a time, and then restart normally to test whether the problem still occurs.

If you determined which item is causing the problem, you may want to contact the manufacturer of the startup item for a newer version or an update.

For more information about Safe Mode and Safe Boot, see the following AppleCare article:

Article ID: 2398596 - Last Review: 05/14/2015 20:57:00 - Revision: 17.0

Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Business 2011, Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Student 2011

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