What exactly does the Data Key in the Registry store?

I have been told I have a corrupt Data Key in my registry and need to delete it; what settings will I lose; and can I back them up so I can restore them later?

Article contributed by Beth Melton

The Data Key is located in the Registry at:

Word 97:  


Word 2000:  


Note that 8.0 and 9.0 are Word version numbers for Word 97 and Word 2000, respectively. For detailed information about how to find version numbers of Word version numbers covering all versions incl. Word for Office 365, see How to find out what version of Word you have.

It is primarily broken into two main values: Settings and Toolbars.

Sometimes you may need to delete the key (see My menus and toolbars are missing and won't come back for details of how and why). This article covers what settings are stored in the Key, and how you can restore some of those settings if you do have to delete the key.

Settings value

The Settings value contains global user preferences not stored in Normal.dot. If deleted (renaming is preferred) Word will rebuild the Settings value and reset the preferences to the original defaults. See How to preserve your Settings preferences if you need to rebuild this value.

The Settings value stores:
(Note that only the primary preferences and exceptions have been listed)







Not WP Help and Navigation


Not Macro Virus Protection




Not Picture Editor




Not Background Printing


Not Default Tray




Not Background Save


Not Save Word Files As


Spelling and Grammar


Not Background Save


Not Check Spelling/Grammar as you type


Track Changes





Not the AutoCorrect entries (but see How can I import and export all my AutoCorrect entries, so they can be transferred to another machine?)


AutoFormat as you Type




AutoComplete tip setting only





MRU (Most Recently Used) Lists


File Menu


Address Book 


Font List


Screen Location


Tools/Templates and Add-Ins list


Work Menu List


Draw/Snap to Grid


Table/Sort Options


Other field delimiter only

Toolbars Value

(Note: The following information was gleaned from observation only. It is possible a few minor settings were overlooked)

The Toolbars value in the Data key holds built-in toolbar/CommandBar information only. If the Toolbar value is deleted, toolbar customizations including custom toolbars and their settings will be maintained since that information is stored in templates.

The Toolbars value stores (these apply to built-in toolbars only):


Which toolbars are currently turned on


Position on screen


Custom Settings in CommandBars property set via VBA (Visible, Protection, Enabled, etc.)

Deleting/Renaming the entire Data key or one of the values is recommended if:


The Toolbars and Menu Bar are missing


Global preferences are not holding/updating. (Such as your MRU list)


Word disappears from the Desktop


You want to reset User Preferences


Word hangs at startup and all other methods have been explored (see Problems opening Word)

How to preserve your Settings preferences

Before deleting the registry key:


Go to Tools/Macro/Record New Macro


Name your macro ReturnSettings and click OK


Go to Tools/Options and select each tab in the dialog box, before clicking OK


Do the same with the Tools/AutoCorrect dialog box


Once you have deleted the registry key and then recreated it by restarting Word, go to Tools/Macro/Macros and run your ReturnSettings macro.

Note that this will only return the preferences for Tools/Options and Tools/AutoCorrect. Most of the preferences in the Misc. category can not be recorded..

Word.pip files (Word 2000 and above)

In Word 2000 and above, another file that holds some user preferences is called Word.pip. This file is typically located in C:\Windows\Application Data\Microsoft\Office and holds your Personal Usage Data for the Personalized Menus and Toolbar settings found in Tools/Customize/Options. Deleting or renaming this file will set your usage back to the defaults. However this is no different than using the "Reset my Usage Data" command.

There are actually two Word.pip files. The Word.pip file typically located in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office has a read-only attribute and holds the default settings. Deleting or renaming this file invokes Detect and Repair the next time you start Word.

Word will automatically repair itself if either file is missing or corrupt. A corrupt Word.pip file will not cause menus to disappear or malfunction, as a corrupt Data Key can.