Windows

Office challenge: Double-click won't open Word file in Windows Explorer

This week, the Challenge Queen has stumped herself and issued a new Word challenge!
A client called a few days ago because she could no longer open a Word document by double-clicking it in Windows Explorer. How would you troubleshoot this problem and what's the most likely culprit? In the last challenge, we asked… How would you create a dynamic Data Validation range? Time to 'fess up folks -- I've stumped myself! I was counting on you guys to solve this one for me, and you... you called me out on my deception. A couple of you suggested the Offset() formula for creating a dynamic range. Initially, I too had the Offset() solution in mind, but it doesn't work. Okay, I'll say honestly -- I can't make it work. This happens to me occasionally; the idea works in my head, but not in practice! Here's where I'm stumped: The Data Validation feature works with a selected range and that range is static. I can find no way to update it without using code that must be executed with each new entry. That's not very dynamic. If you can turn that original static range into a dynamic range that requires no macro for updating, please post step-by-step instructions so we can all grovel at your feet. I mean... acknowledge your superior Excel skills! My suggestion, for now, would be to route the data input process through a user form where code maintains the list or checks the validity of each new entry and to not use the Data Validation feature at all! It certainly wasn't the first time (and surely won't be the last time) that my initial strategy failed me.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

49 comments
jessicabosari
jessicabosari

I tried all of these solutions. Only repair worked. Save yourself some time and just do that.

fledis
fledis

May be I don't get the problem correctly, but: 1. Let's say cells A1:A5 contain a list of possible values, while C10:C20 is the table area which should be filled with them. 2. Select C10:C20. 3. Data- Validation- Allow- List. Source: $A$1:$A$5 4a. When I have to add new values to the list of allowed values, I insert and fill a new cell inside the block A1:A5. Source address $A$1:$A$6 changes automatically. 4b. When I have to add new row to my table, I insert it inside existing table, let's say, inside block C10:H20. New cell obtains validation conditions automatically. 5. In case it's hard to remember about performing commands Insert- Cells (or Insert - Row) I add one extra cell (row) to my initial list and table (e.g. A1:A6 and C10:C21) and mark it with a message: "for adding new values place active cell here and choose Insert... (Cell/Row).

mmoran
mmoran

Had this on a friend's machine recently. Double-clicking the icon for a Word doc would bring up the Open With... dialog, but if she first fired up Word then opened the file, it worked. Same behavior with a number of other file types. Eventual solution was to download and run the REG files from this site: http://www.dougknox.com/xp/file_assoc.htm

jswed
jswed

Check for missing file association for extensions .doc and .docx

jy76
jy76

I know this might be completely out of left-field, but you could try doing for Word what we have had to do for a couple of users of Excel in the past, which is to re-register it like so: regsvr32 /u "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Excel.exe" regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Excel.exe" Obviously, in your case you would have to replace the Excel reference with Word. Just a thought.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

and reverse it. Failing that... 1. In Windows Explorer (aka My Computer), right-click on a document file and see which action is in bold. 2. If it's "New", we've found the problem and the fix is simple. If it's "Open", I'm afraid I can't help you. 3. Click the Tools->Folder Options menu item. 4. Click the File Types tab. 5. After the list box fills, scroll down and find the file type you're looking for (.doc for Word versions prior to 2007, .docx and .docm for 2007. .xls for Excel prior to 2007, probably .xlsx and .xlsm for 2007) 6. Click the Advanced button. 7. New should be in bold; Open should not. Select Open. 8. Click the Set Default button. 9. Click OK.

m5ernel
m5ernel

Sorry, it is the previous topics, but I don't know where else I can post. I just want to say that Dynamic ranges work fine with Data Validation in my Excel (2003). NO macro, just a formula.

dwdino
dwdino

1) Remove user 2) Acquire new user 3) Tell new user not to screw it up 4) Test if issue is still present

itguy1981
itguy1981

Reset your Internet Explorer (yes, Internet Explorer) security settings to default.

michael.laib
michael.laib

Try C:\ MY Path\Word.exe /unregserver Then do the same thing, but type C:\MyPath\Word.exe /regserver Replace MyPath with the actual path to Word.exe. Neither of these will start Excel, but they will rewrite the registry items associated with Word.

Groovyman
Groovyman

Assuming Word is running properly and the file association is correct. If the document opens when copied off the network to a local drive, I'd guess that the network path to the file is too long. I've ran into this before where the network path to a file is over 256 characters, the file will not open.

Joaquim Amado Lopes
Joaquim Amado Lopes

The space reserved for the list is A1:A25 The elements of the list are contiguous, starting on A1 (no empty rows). The data validation list source is =INDIRECT("A1:"&ADDRESS(COUNTA(A1:A25);1;4)) It works on Excel 2007.

melekali
melekali

...it's a program association problem. Right-click on the file, Properties, click the change button and associate with MS-Word.

Magpie_IT
Magpie_IT

Delete the Normal.doc file. It is corrupt. Word will re-create the file on start-up. I have had a similar case of no matter which doc file is selected the same one is always opend.

wwgorman
wwgorman

If the Word "Open File" box is open then double clicking a file name in Windows Explorer won't open the file and an error message should appear. I assume that the "Open File" task is not open in Word and this points to a corrupt program which requires repair/reinstall. One of the above comments advocates deleting the "Normal.DOT" might correct the problem and this is worth a try.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Sounds like a lost file association. Can other files still be opened by double-clicking them? If so, re-associate .doc/.docx files with Word. If no other files can be opened by double-clicking, there are major registry problems and it's probably time to go back to the last restore point...or reinstall/reimage.

swedishcancerboi
swedishcancerboi

If you are referring to the issue of double-clicking file opens Word, but not the Word document, and the user can open Word documents by using Word's File -> Open, then: Go to the File Associations (Within Windows Explorer, Tools -> Folder Options -> File Types Tab) Scroll to problem association (.doc and .docx) Click 'Advanced' Select Action 'Open' then click 'Edit' Uncheck 'Use DDE' Click 'OK' then 'OK' then 'OK' Usually fixes it for me.

NexS
NexS

!troubleshooting! 1- Test a "right-click" open(assuming we're on a Windows platform) 2- Check Word is installed correctly 3- When was the last time it worked? !possible culprits! 1- Brokened moose(mouse) 2- Corrupt file/not a "Word" file 3- Software not installed or corrupt

neoprime
neoprime

Is it just that one particular word document or all of them?

frostbit_ak
frostbit_ak

First thing to try is exit Word and delete the Normal.dot file usually located at C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates Re-launch Word this will create a new template. Now try to open a document with double click

kipmalone
kipmalone

Right click and select 'Open'

seickhoff
seickhoff

Is the user able to open any Office files by double clicking in Windows Explorer? Is she able to double click on Word files saved on desktop? Can she right click and open Word files? just throwing out the first things I would check....not sure what the cause would be as of yet

si
si

@jessicabosari 

Same for me. Tried all the techy solutions and finally did the obvious - went to Control Panel/Programs and Features and right clicked Microsoft Office - Change - Repair.  Repairing Office has solved the problem for me.

joldham
joldham

Open regedit. Go to HKEY_CURRENTUSER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Word Delete the Data key. Back it up first if you wish. This has always fixed the Word problem for me.

wolterl
wolterl

I upgraded about 60 PCs with Win XP from Office 2003 to Office 2007 and about 1/3 of them were unable to double click to open various Office files after the upgrade. Upon right click and choosing "Open with", the necessary Office program was not listed and could not be browsed to in order to open. I used OpenWithAdd to register the programs that were not listed. (See http://windowsxp.mvps.org/openwithadd.htm ) I then set the file type associations appropriately. Most users can now double click to open Office files. There is still one PC that refuses to cooperate, but that user now knows to open Excel first and use file, open to get to her spreadshets.

Jtempys
Jtempys

Using windows XP or Vista (7?), the user can right click the problem file, choose open with, and select MSWord from the list, at the same time can restore associations by making sure the box is checked "Always use this program for this file type"

Zahra B.
Zahra B.

Does the file have a .doc or .docx extension? (Or any other extension that should primarily be recognized by Word.) Does double-clicking in general work? (I know, it's on the level of "Make sure your computer is powered on", but there are reasons why it is a clich?. Jumping to more complicated troubleshooting may make you bypass the simple problem with a simple solution.)

MEESYA
MEESYA

hi, after in uncheck 'Use DDE', i click 'OK,' then 'OK'. but i can't click OK third times coz only 'CANCEL' box i can click. Can u help me. Thanks

swedishcancerboi
swedishcancerboi

I had the problem with Excel earlier today. You could also edit the registry: Excel: HKCR\Excel.Sheet.8(or .12 for 2007)\shell\Open Word: HKCR\Word.Document.8(or .12 for 2007)\shell\Open Delete (or rename) the key \ddeexec and within the \Open\command key, delete (or rename) the command string. and as mentioned, adding the "%1" to the end of the (default) string would probably help. It also enables Excel/Word to open in multiple instances.

lsangree
lsangree

If you are referring to the issue of double-clicking file opens Excel 2007, but not the Excel document, and the user can open Excel documents by using Excel's File -> Open, then follow the instructions in the link below. Works for all our users!. Sometimes get reset with an Office update - just reapply... http://martin.von-gagern.net/howtos/excel2007load

VosaBz
VosaBz

I have Word 2003 and WinXP, all with latest updates. This problem occurs to me when I installed MathType v6. Word takes about 30 seconds to open and a message is displaed "File not found". However, after Word is opened, files can be opened from its File menu. Another problem is that Paste Options Button does not appear. It is a nuisance one can live with. I used MathType v5 two or more years ago without any problems. However, I think the culprit is not MathType but MS updates. When I now tried MathType v5, problems are the same as with v6. No remedies helped, neither ones listed here, nor instructions from MathType Help Site. Would be grateful if anybody can help me, Vosa

IAmLegend
IAmLegend

Suppose you verify that Word is correctly installed and operational, and the Word extensions are associated with the correct executable file. The default action may have been changed. On the Folder Options File Types tab, click the Advanced button. Set Open to the default action. Verify this by right-clicking a Word document, and on the context menu, ensure Open appears in bold type.

rbotha
rbotha

I have the problem, unfortunately. Scenario: Win XP SP3 32 Bit Office 2010 Beta with update-kb980028 Problem only applicable on files opened over network. Local from desktop works fine. Deleting the template file does not work. Setting the file association does not work either.

TheShadowKnows
TheShadowKnows

I would check the program association of the extension type.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I have users that double click on any file and expect one of the MS Office apps to open. And, for the basics, I made the [possibly invalid] assumption that all hardware is operating properly.

seickhoff
seickhoff

I was reading through the replies and I had just said to myself that the easy steps need to be looked at first. We also need more info on this issue, i.e. what version of word, can word docs be double clicked if they are on the desktop, does Excel or Powerpoint have the same issue, does the left click button on the moose working.. before going through any farther in depth steps.

pauldesmondwhite
pauldesmondwhite

Had a very similar problem in Office 2000 after a very amateurish attempt to use OLE automation from Access VBA to create and populate an Excel workbook. Had lots of false starts and errors trying to do everything invisibly (can't remember the details) and at one point had lots of Excel instances running in Task Manager. Never solved it until reinstallation!

ianm
ianm

Have you tried running the office diagnostics tool.

dhays
dhays

On a locked down setup as we have here, the advanced option is not available to a non admin. However, the Tools->Folder Options->General Tab (O-2003 or older), has an option for single clicking or double clicking, that would be my first place to look.

rbotha
rbotha

Re-Install Fixed

Jtempys
Jtempys

Make sure your permissions on the network location are allowing you to open and manipulate files. If your permissions are correct, make sure the file is question is not locked by another user (e.g. sharepoint type data locks) If worst comes to worst, permissions are correct, file is not locked, then I guess the easiest workaround is to pull the file down, do your thing and push the file back up either as a new version or replacing the old version. I personally think this is the way network files should be handled anyways, to eliminate lost data issues of multiple users updating a file and overwriting other work in progress when networks files dont have locks on them.

fgecme
fgecme

I absolutely agree. Word association has changed or has the .doc, .docx missing and should be checked. Open control panel-Default Programs-Associate a file type or protocol with a program and check if ,doc or .docx is in the list or see which, if any programs are associated with them. Ref Office 2007 word

RGSmith
RGSmith

I am using the release version of Office 2010 and can open .docx files across my network in Word 2010 with no problem. Same goes for Excel, Powerpoint, Access, etc.

rbotha
rbotha

Cheerfull morning to you too. If you red the whole thread, it doesn't look like just a beta problem / might be a different problem all together, granted. Thanks for your suggestion, sure MS will fix right away... same with the non Beta prob...

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

Do you know what beta software is? Report this issue to Microsoft. If you want to complain about a program not working correctly then use one that isn't in beta. Bill

rbotha
rbotha

Hi Jtempys Not convinced its a permissions issue, Opening Excel docs work fine. Also that I checked and reapplied the permissions already. Can open Word and brows to the folder and open the doc without any hassles & edit and save. Attempting MS Office repair and reinstall inevitably. Good job MS, I concede, your incredible talent to program inexplicable bugs has baffled us all.