Logo of Microsoft Office software on the product key package.
Image: wachiwit/Adobe Stock

You’re using or trying to use Microsoft Office and are bumping into technical glitches. Maybe certain features aren’t working properly or one of the Office applications itself is freezing or crashing. Perhaps you’re running into trouble installing, activating or signing into Office. How can you fix the problem?

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One option is to run a repair of Office. If that doesn’t work, then reinstalling Office may be necessary. But Microsoft can also help via a free program called the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant. Known as SaRA for short, this utility scans your Office configuration and tries to resolve specific glitches.

The steps I describe here will work with any desktop version of Office, either the subscription-based Microsoft 365 or the one-time license edition. I’m also running Office in Windows, so these tips apply to Windows 10 and 11.

First, try to repair Office. To do this in Windows 10 or 11, go to Settings and then Apps. Select the option for Apps & Features. Scroll down the list of apps until you see the entry for your version of Office. In Windows 10, click that entry and select Modify. In Windows 11, click the three-dot icon for that entry and select Modify (Figure A).

Figure A

A window pops up asking how you’d like to repair your Office programs. The Quick Repair option is the fastest and simplest, so select that one first and then click the Repair button (Figure B).

Figure B

You’ll be prompted to start the repair, so click Repair at the prompt. Windows then runs the quick repair of Office. After it’s finished, open the Office application that’s giving you trouble and see if you can replicate the problem. If the glitch still exists, return to the Apps & Features screen and choose a Repair for Office. This time, select the Online Repair option. Make sure you have a good internet connection and then click Repair again (Figure C).

Figure C

After the online repair has completed, again open the troublesome Office application and attempt to replicate the problematic behavior. If the issue remains, your next step is to uninstall Office and then reinstall it. The drawback here is that you’ll lose certain customizations for Office and will have to recreate them.

Make sure you have the media for Office or availability to its online source, such as your Microsoft account page. Go back to the entry for Office at the Apps & Features screen, select it, and choose Uninstall. When prompted, click Uninstall again. You’re told that the program and files will be removed. Click Uninstall to confirm (Figure D).

Figure D

Afterwards, reinstall Office and run the misbehaving program to see if it now behaves. Whether or not you go through the uninstall process and whether or not it resolves the issue, there is another step you can take.

Microsoft’s free Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant can sometimes pinpoint and fix certain glitches in Office. Not all types of troubleshooting options are supported by the tool, so your experience with it will likely be hit or miss. But it’s still worth trying, especially if you’re experiencing hiccups installing or activating Office.

Browse to the SaRA product page and click the Download button to grab the program. Extract the downloaded ZIP archive and run the SaraSetup.exe file to install the tool. At one point during the setup, SaRA will ask you which app is giving you problems. Select Office or Outlook depending on the source of the issue. You can also choose Advanced Diagnostics for a deeper analysis. Click Next (Figure E).

Figure E

At the next screen, select the specific problem. Click Next (Figure F).

Figure F

The tool asks if this is the affected machine. Assuming it is, click Yes and then click Next. Log into your account if prompted. The tool runs several checks to try to diagnose the problem. SaRA may direct you to take certain steps to assist with its troubleshooting. Follow its directions.

If the tool is successful, it should ask if the problem has been resolved and present a form for you to fill out. Try replicating the issue once more to confirm that it has been fixed (Figure G).

Figure G

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