Word 2008: Existing Issues, Some with Workarounds

compiled by Beth Rosengard and Daiya Mitchell

These issues are compiled from reports on the newsgroups. We expect that updates will fix them.


In general, you can find updates at Mactopia Downloads, or you can select Help>Check for Updates in any Office program. Each update is also linked from the Description in the MS Knowledge Base.

HOWEVER, please click on the Mactopia link for Additional Information for best practice on installing it.


  1. Can't Save This is our current hot seller, sadly.  Changes to OS X in Snow Leopard (OS 10.6) have bought this issue back with a vengeance.
  2. Crash on Launch or Quit
  3. Translation Can't Find the Internet
  4. Can't Change the Default Double-Spacing
  5. My Printer Only Prints Blank Pages!
  6. File>Open Menu Causes Crash/Freeze
  7. "This Picture is an Unsupported Graphics Format or May Be Damaged"
  8. Messages about Full Memory and Work File
  9. Can't Paste into Dreamweaver (or other programs)
  10. "A File Error Has Occurred..."
  11. GoBack Command Fails
  12. Word Doesn't Print Graphics
  13. Things Missing from the Status Bar: Line Number, Section Number, Overtype

1. Word Crashes on Launch or Quit

Microsoft has confirmed that a possible cause for Word 2008 crashing on launch (or quit) is the presence of preference files from previous versions of Word. If you have this problem, try one of these workarounds:

Look for Old Preference Files

Quit out of all versions of Word and trash (or rename) all Word preference files prior to Word 2004:

[username]/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Word Settings (10)

Hard Drive/OS 9 System Folder/Preferences/Microsoft/ Word Settings (9)

Hard Drive/OS 9 System Folder/Preferences/Microsoft/ Word Settings (8)

Hold Down the Shift key while Launching Word.

This bypasses the First Run Update process so Office doesn't go looking for previous version preference files. Unfortunately, this tells Word not to load any preferences and templates at all ­ even Word 2008 prefs ­ and you will need to do this on every launch, so it's not a long-term workaround.

If shift-launching Word works for you, but deleting the above files didn't help, then also test the preferences from Word 2008 and 2004. If that still doesn't work, then test the Normal template, both for Word 2008 and for any earlier versions you may have installed.

If that still doesn't work, see if you might have any old settings files in any other locations. Clearing out AutoRecovery files may be necessary. For instance, one newsgroup poster found that a crash on quit appeared to be caused by the presence of a copy of the 2004 Normal template in an AutoRecovery folder, which Word was finding and importing.

A newsgroup poster reported crash on launch was caused by enabling Quartz GL in Quartz Debug. If you had done this, you would probably know it, so this is just to jog your memory. If you have never heard of this, it is highly unlikely to be causing your problem.

2. Translation Can't Find the Internet

This has been tracked down to an issue caused by not having a proxy specified.

There is a potential workaround: In Network Settings, under Bypass proxy settings for these Hosts & Domains, try entering a wildcard (i.e. "*.*") or an exception for mso.worldlingo.com.

3. Can't Change the Default Double-Spacing

Because it isn't really double-spaced! MS changed the default Space After (which controls the space between paragraphs, not between lines). This isn't actually a bug, either, but it is a FAQ, so we'll put it here.

To change it in just the active document, select all, go to Format | Paragraph. Look down to the find the Spacing: After field, and change 10 to 0.

To change this in all documents created from now on, you'll need to change the Normal style.

First, select Format | Style. Normal should be selected.

Click on Modify—make sure "add to template" is CHECKED. You'll see a Format menu in the bottom of the dialog—select Paragraph from it, and change the Spacing: After setting from 10 to 0.

4. My Printer Only Prints Blank Pages!

When running on Leopard, Word 2008 and Word/PowerPoint/Excel 2004 may produce blank output for some printers. Microsoft, Apple, and various printer manufacturers are working on this issue and have resolved it in an issued update to Office 2008 and Office 2004.

5. File>Open Menu Causes Crash/Freeze

Problem: you are able to open Word documents if you double-click a Word doc in the Finder, but when you use the File>Open menu, Word locks up, or freezes.

This is due to corrupt preferences, specifically the UserName/Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.Word.plist . Quit Word, drag that file to the desktop, and relaunch Word.

If the problem persists, try the instructions here.

6. "This Picture is an Unsupported Graphics Format or May Be Damaged"

Several newsgroup posters have reported getting this error when using Insert>Picture>From File, while drag and drop works fine.

The current solution is to make sure that the Styles section of the Formatting Palette is closed before inserting the picture, or temporarily close the Formatting Palette all together. The misleading error message appears to be related to Word's inability to automatically substitute the Styles section for a Format Picture section, as it is supposed to do when a picture is inserted.

7. Messages about Full Memory and Work File

If you get the following error messages:

"Word could not create the work file. Check the amount of space on your startup disk"
"You are working without a Word work file, and memory is nearly full. Save your work. "

Some newsgroup posters have reported that Repairing Permissions solved the problem. Use the system Disk Utility program. Another person reported that using the utility AppleJack in single user moder for a more extensive system repair solved it.

8. Can't Paste into Dreamweaver, etc.

Word 2008 changed the information that it puts on the clipboard, and some programs are having problems handling it, most notably Adobe Dreamweaver, but also InDesign, Fireworks, and apparently iChat. Please send feedback to both companies to increase the priority on this problem—the more complaints, the more likely to get a quick fix. I believe Adobe will need to make the fix, as GoLive and other programs have no problem handling what appears to be a standard format. Certainly the 12.1 update to Office 2008 did not improve this issue at all.

Complain to Adobe

Complain to the MacBU at Microsoft

Potential Workarounds

You can copy into Word 2004 and then re-copy. I have not tried using TextEdit or Pages as an intermediary yet.

A newsgroup poster suggested printing to PDF and copying from the PDF.

In Dreamweaver, you can use Edit>Paste Special and select Text Only to get the basic text into Dreamweaver, but you'll have to reformat it.

Pasting from a clipboard utility sometimes produces different results than a simple cmd-V. When you copy, Word puts several different formats on the clipboard. When you hit cmd-V, the program you are copying into picks a format. Using a clipboard utility may let you pick that format yourself, for programs lacking Paste Special options. (In my tests, using the Pasteboard module of YouControl produced better results with InDesign and Fireworks, allowing me to paste unformatted text rather than a picture. In Dreamweaver, it produced different but not especially better results.)

9. "A File Error Has Occurred..."

Newsgroup posters have reported getting the following error message on closing Word. The symptom appears to be that Word does not save preferences or changes to the Normal template.

"A file error has occurred. Check your network connections or make sure the disk is properly inserted and not defective."

One person solved the problem by trashing all versions of the Normal template. See the instructions here, and be sure to look for the Normal template for Word 2008, Word 2004, and any version of Word you ever had installed on the computer.

10. GoBack Command Fails

The GoBack command, which cycles you through the last three edit points, fails in Word 2008. It works while a document is opened, but the bookmarks are cleared when you close the document.

Increase the priority on this issue by letting the MacBU know it causes problems for you.

11. Word Doesn't Print Graphics

First, in Word>Preferences>Print, under Include With Document, make sure that "drawing objects" is checked.

If that doesn't work, one newsgroup poster solved the issue by grouping all of the graphics with their text box labels.

14. Things Missing from the Status Bar: Line Number, Section Number, Overtype

Word 2008 redid the status bar, the line at the bottom of each document window.

MS removed information on the line number and section number. Try to convince MS to return it by letting the MacBU know it causes problems for you.

You can recover the Overtype command by customizing the toolbar (click for directions). The command you need is named "Overtype".