Remove & Reinstall Office for OS X

Article contributed by Beth Rosengard

Before Removing Office | Procedure for Office 2004 | Procedure for Office X

As a rule, a removal and reinstallation of Office should be your last line of defense.  It’s not difficult, but it is time consuming, so why not try simpler procedures first.  The Troubleshooting Index will point you to various procedures for problem solving, including dealing with munged settings files, corrupt or duplicate fonts, damaged documents, conflicts with third-party software, repairing disk permissions and keeping your software updated.

There are, however, two scenarios which should make a removal & reinstallation your first line of defense:

Before Using the Remove Office Tool

Back up important files!  While a removal of Office will not touch your documents or your Microsoft User Data (MUD) folder, the wise computer user backs up all personal files regularly, and certainly before performing major disk maintenance or software removal/reinstallation of this magnitude.  (For more on “best practices” for backing up your work, click here.)  This should seem obvious.

Not so obvious are all the customized files – preferences, templates, dictionaries, etc. – that should at least be considered for backup.  Among them are your Normal template, custom templates, custom dictionaries, AutoCorrect list, and preferences/settings files for all Office applications.  For a complete rundown of these files and their locations, click here.

Other things to keep in mind before moving on to the procedure itself:

Procedure for Office 2004

  1. Launch the Remove Office tool, located in HD/Applications/Microsoft Office 2004/Additional Tools/Remove Office.  Note:  Remove Office is installed by default when you do a full install of Office 2004.  If you can’t find it in the above location, you will have to custom install it from the Office 2004 CD.
  2. Press the "Continue" button to locate currently installed copies of Office.
  3. Select the version(s) of Office that you want to remove, and press the "Continue" button.
  4. Choose to "Remove the Office 2004 folder," "Remove the selected Office 2004 system files," and "Preferences.”  There may be times when you want to remove selected Office components, but assuming you’re reading this page because you’re in trouble, this isn’t one of them!
  5. Repair disk permissions:  In OS 10.2 - 10.4, go to HD/Applications/Utilities.  Open up Disk Utility.  Select your hard disk and then click the First Aid tab.  Click the button to “Repair Disk Permissions.”  In OS 10.1, download the Repair Privileges Utility [NOTE: outdated link removed by Lene Fredborg 19-Feb-2017], free from Apple, and run it.  Do not use this Utility on later OS versions.  For more on this subject, click here.
  6. Insert your Office 2004 CD and reinstall by running the Office Setup Assistant (recommended).  If you prefer to Drag & Drop, be sure to drag to the hard drive.

    If you use the Office Setup Assistant and receive the following error message – “The installation for Office 2004 cannot complete because disk is full” – see Microsoft Knowledge Base article #841417.  After performing the workaround, repair disk permissions and try the installation again.

    If you use the Drag & Drop method and receive the following error message – “The installation for Office 2004 cannot complete because disk is full” – see Microsoft Knowledge Base article # 841419.  After performing the workaround, repair disk permissions and try the installation again.

    In any other situation, if an Office install program hangs, stalls, or gives error messages such as “bad disk” or “disk full”, stop the installation.  Chances are your hard drive needs to be repaired. Run a good disk utility such as DiskWarrior or TechTool Pro and try the installation again.

  7. Start each Office application once and quit it.  This forces each application to create its preference files.
  8. Repair disk permissions again.
  9. Run Microsoft AutoUpdate.  After installing any updates, repair disk permissions again.
  10. If everything is running properly and only if everything is running properly, reinstall backed up files.  CAUTION:  Reinstall these files one at a time and test after each to be sure that you haven’t reinstalled the source of your original problem.  Don’t reinstall files if you can avoid it; wherever feasible, just reset your preferences rather than reinstalling an old preference file.  In other words, start as “clean” as possible.  For more on reinstalling backed up files, click here.

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Procedure for Office X

  1. The Remove Office tool is located in the Value Pack folder on the Office X CD.  Install it and run it.
  2. Repair disk permissions:  In OS 10.2 - 10.4, go to HD/Applications/Utilities.  Open up Disk Utility.  Select your hard disk and then click the First Aid tab.  Click the button to “Repair Disk Permissions.”  In OS 10.1, download the Repair Privileges Utility, free from Apple, and run it.  Do not use this Utility on later OS versions.  For more on this subject, click here. Insert your Office X CD and reinstall by running the Installer (recommended).  If you prefer to Drag & Drop, be sure to drag to the hard drive.

    If an Office install program hangs, stalls, or gives error messages such as “bad disk” or “disk full”, stop the installation.  Chances are your hard drive needs to be repaired. Run a good disk utility such as DiskWarrior or TechTool Pro and start this procedure from the top.

  3. Install any Value Pack items that you may want, using the Installer.  You can always install others later but you must reapply all Office updaters if you do.
  4. Start each Office application once and quit it.  This forces each application to create its preference files.
  5. Repair disk permissions again.
  6. Download [Lene Fredborg, 11-Feb-2018: Removed outdated link to http://www.microsoft.com/Mac/downloads.aspx#OfficeX] and install the Office X 10.1.6 updater (which includes the previous updaters through 10.1.5).  While on the Microsoft download page, check for more recent updaters.  The information above was current as of the Page Updated date at the bottom of this page.  For more on updating, including information on version numbers, click here.
  7. Repair disk permissions again.
  8. If everything is running properly and only if everything is running properly, reinstall backed up files.  CAUTION:  Reinstall these files one at a time and test after each to be sure that you haven’t reinstalled the source of your original problem.  Don’t reinstall files if you can avoid it; wherever feasible, just reset your preferences rather than reinstalling an old preference file.  In other words, start as “clean” as possible. For more on reinstalling backed up files, click here.

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