Microsoft Word Not Responding on Mac? 7 Fixes and 1 Recovery Way!

Peter William
time January 25, 2019 Preview 11.8K
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Microsoft Word, coming with a series of edit features, is mainly for writing text, TPS reports and formatting the word documents efficaciously. If you were using Word 2008, 2011, 2016, or 2019 on Mac, it wouldn’t be a surprise that you stuck with issues, like Microsoft Word not responding, MS Word won’t open, Word keeps crashing on Mac, etc.. The usual scenarios and questions are:

“What to do when Microsoft Word is not responding on Mac and I didn't save?”

“Word can’t load an add-in despite restarting Mac and reinstalling the software.”

“When opening Word, it keeps bouncing, but stops and nothing happens later.”

Microsoft Word not responding Mac” issue can be an awful drag, but fortunately, there are some fixes and data recovery tool available. Follow this tutorial and drive the frustration banging your head out of the door.


Possible Reasons behind MS Word Not Responding on Mac

When your Microsoft Word won’t open or has stopped working on Mac all of a sudden, the possible reasons could be:

  • The third-party add-ons or the plug-ins hinder the software
  • MS Word preferences are corrupted
  • The virus or malware infected the operating system of your Mac (Install an anti-virus program)
  • Unexpected power disturbance or sudden closing of Word document
  • Programs or hardware bugs interfere with Mac Word

How to Force Quit Word on Mac When Not Responding?

If your Word document continually freezes, hangs or gives you a spinning rainbow ball of death, you need to just shut it down. You have 4 ways at your disposal when Microsoft Word is not responding or keeps crashing on Mac.

Way One: Dock

  1. Find Word icon on the dock.
  2. Right-click (or hold down Ctrl key + click) the icon.
  3. A contextual menu appears, choose “Force Quick” option from the list.

Way Two: Finder or Shortcut

  1. Click on the apple icon in the upper-left corner of your screen select “Force Quit” from the drop-down menu. (Or press and hold Ctrl + Alt+ Esc on the keyboard.)
  2. This brings up a dialogue box that showcases your running items. You should select Microsoft Word and click on “Force Quick” button.

Way Three: Activity Monitor

  1. Open Activity Monitor app.
  2. Select Microsoft Word in the process list.
  3. Click the button “X” in the upper-left of the window to force quit unresponsive Word on Mac.

Way Four: Terminal

  1. Open Terminal app.
  2. Type the command “ps -ax | grep "Microsoft Word”, and press Enter key.Force Quit Word on Mac Terminal 1
  3. Before the line which ends in “/Contents/MacOS/Microsoft Word”, there is a PID number. The number I got is 1246.Force Quit Word on Mac Terminal 2
  4. Use the force quit command on Mac: type “kill 1246” to shut down crashed Word.Force Quit Word on Mac Terminal 3

How to Fix "Microsoft Word Not Responding on Mac" Issues?

Fix 1. Remove Adds-Ins

If your Word won’t open or keeps crashing on Mac, it might be the problems of incompatibility third-party add-ins. Many Add-Ins will not work on Office 64-bit version but on the 32-bit version. To remove add-ins on the Word for Mac, I will show you an example.

e.g. Disable add-in on Microsoft Word 2016

  1. Open Word > navigate to Preferences > select Ribbon and Toolbar.
  2. Choose "Add-in" or "Complements" in the Developer tab, and then click the add arrow.
  3. At the top of the ribbon, click the new options icon.Disable add-in on Microsoft Word 2016
  4. Deactivate "xxxx.dotm" file and delete it in Finder.
Program Old Add-In File Extension New Add-In File Extension
Word .dot .dotm
Excel .xla .xlam
Powerpoint .ppa .ppam

Fix 2. Update Your Word to Latest Version

  1. Open Word for Mac.
  2. On the top Menu, choose Help > Check for Updates.Update Your Word to Latest Version
  3. Select “Automatically Download and Install” from the pop up AutoUpdate window.

Fix 3. Open Word in Safe Mode

Safe Mode enables you to safely use Microsoft Word when it has encountered frozen, crashing and not open on Mac.

  1. Restart your Mac computer, at the same time, Press and hold the Shift key.
  2. Release the key when computer is turned on. You will see the Safe Boot on Mac startup screen.
  3. Open Mac Word in Safe Mode.

Fix 4. Delete Invalid Characters from File Name

MS Word not responding on Mac may be caused by the file name which contains invalid characters and symbols.

Office 2011 was rewritten basing on the features of Office 2007 and Office 2010. There are some accidental PC codes in 2011 that don’t permit certain forbidden characters, such as “<>”, “<< >>”, “{}”, “\”, “|”, “/”, superscript/subscript, the number before the name, etc.. So, if your file was created in Word 2016, 2019, or other versions, it won’t open in Microsoft 2011, unless you remove the invalid characters from Word file name.

Fix 5. Reset the Default Settings of Word

You can troubleshoot various components of Microsoft Word by resetting or deleting its preference file. Apart from solving the Word not responding on Mac issue, it can also fix Word crashing problem or certain features not working. Resetting preference is not the ultimate solution for all Word problem, thus do not perform this operation too often.

e.g. Reset Microsoft Word 2016 preferences

  1. Quit Word document on Mac.
  2. Right-click Finder icon in the dock and select “Go to Folder”.
  3. Type ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/User Content/Templates command in the dialog box.
  4. Locate the files Normal.dotm and move it to the desktop.
  5. Go to folder again, and type ~/Library/Preferences.
  6. Find out and files, and then move both of them to your desktop. Reset the Default Settings of Word
  7. Re-open your Word and check if the Mac Microsoft word not responding solved or not.

Fix 6. Repair Disk Permissions

  1. Open Disk Utility app on Mac.
  2. Select the volume that you need to repair permissions from the left sidebar menu.
  3. Click on the “First Aid” tab.
  4. Click “Run” to start the disk repair process.

Fix 7. Uninstall Word, and Then Reinstall It Again

  1. Go to Finder > Applications.
  2. Select Microsoft Word, and right-click it.
  3. Choose “Move to Trash” from the context menu.
  4. Reinstall Word on

Reinstall the software could be helpful for solving Word not responding Mac issue. But before that, make sure you have completely uninstalled it.

Tips 1. Remove all library files created by Microsoft Word

Check the following directories:

  • ~/Library/Containers/
  • ~Library/Application Support
  • ~Library/LaunchDaemons
  • ~Library/PrivilegedHelperTools
  • ~Library/Caches
  • ~Library/Preferences

Tips 2. Remove Microsoft Word from the dock

  1. Locate Microsoft Word in the dock.
  2. Hold Ctrl + click, and select Options.
  3. Choose Remove from Dock.

The Best Way to Recover Unsaved, Lost, and Corrupted Word Documents

That will be terrible if the Microsoft Word is not responding and you didn't save your file. In the first place, please try to retrieve your file from the sources below:

1. Look for the content in the trash.

2. Check the Word AutoRecovery folder.

The path for newer version: ~/Library/Containers/

The path for Office 2011: ~/Library/Application Support/ Microsoft/Office/Office 2011 AutoRecovery

3. Find it in TemporaryItems folder: Launch Terminal > Type “open $TMPDIR” command > Press Enter.

Still nothing? That means your file was permanently lost after Microsoft Word not responding issue. The ultimate rescue, I think, is to install a powerful data recovery program.

Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac is a superb file undelete program. It goes further than others in restoring data from all kinds of devices, ranging from digital cameras to hard disks. Besides Word documents, it also recovers any file types, like videos, audios, photos, emails and so on.

Meanwhile, this software works for different file lost situations: not responding, formatted, virus attacked, accidental deletion, system crashed, etc.

Free Download

Step 1Select Unsaved Files Recovery Mode

Launch Cisdem Data Recovery on Mac. To recover unsaved file after MS Word not responding, you can select the option Basic Data Recovery or Advanced Recovery to start.

If your Word file was removed from the trash, then simply choose Trash Recovery.

Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac 1

Step 2Choose the Location

You should select a location where you lost your Word file, and next begin a quick scan to search your target files.

 Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac 2

Step 3 Preview and Retrieve Word File

Preview all detected files during or after the scan. The files will be displayed in various catalogs.

At last, click "Recover" button to get your Word document back.

 Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac 3

Write in the End

That’s all for fixing Microsoft Word not responding, not open and keeping crashing on Mac. As for recovering unsaved Word document, you’d better reply on Cisdem Data Recovery to retrieve it. My advice would be to backup your Word file regularly. In Word Preference setting, there is an AutoSave option, changing the interval of AutoSave from every 1 minute to every 5 minutes.

Peter William
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Peter has always had great enthusiasm for writing, programming and web development. He likes writing about software and technology, his works are featured on some tech blogs or forums like Tom's Hardware, CNET, etc.

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