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Issue #340: January 26, 2014

Q:  I have an inconvenience rather than a problem, but I’m hoping I learn something computer maintenance by fixing it. I’m running Word 2002 on Windows 7. Until recently when I held the mouse on it in the Start menu a list of the documents I had used most recently was displayed and I could quickly return to one of them if I chose to do so.  Now when I hold the mouse on Word in the Start menu the list is still displayed but when I click on one of them Word opens but on a blank (gray) screen. I can then open my list of documents and get where I want to be; but I have lost the ease of getting there from the Start menu.  What happened to cause this and is there a way to fix it?

– Dick M.
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

A:  Gosh, you got me, Dick.  It sounds almost as if it’s not finding your files.  I tried to test this theory, but all I have available with which to test is Office 2010.  That version sure seems to have a knack for finding files, because I actually renamed files and moved them to totally new directories, and Word 2010 still found them somehow.  So I switched gears, and tried to do a web search for your problem, to see if others are having similar issues.  Unfortunately, the search keywords for this problem are tough to narrow down, and apply to lots of issues besides yours, leaving way too many results for the search to be particularly useful.  One thing I did notice was a lot of discussion about questionable compatibility of Office XP (your version) with Windows 7.  There doesn’t seem to be any real consensus of whether they are fully compatible.

So, it’s back to basics.  First things first: Do you have the latest patches and updates installed, for both your operating system, and for Office?  Visit for Microsoft’s page on Support for Word 2002.  Pay particular attention to the Service Packs, and make sure you have SP3 installed.  “But what about us?” I can hear all you non-Office XP users crying out.  Fear not! The Geek has a gift for users of nearly all versions of Office.  Visit for links to the current service pack for every version of Office all the way back to Office 2000.  If you’re still using something older than that, I’m sorry.  My gift for you is this advice: for goodness sake, consider an upgrade!

If the problem still persists once you’re up to date on everything, Dick, it’s possible that an add-in that Word is running is somehow interfering with Word’s ability to load the file.  You can disable add-ins by running Word in Safe Mode (much like you run Windows in Safe Mode).  You start Word in Safe Mode using the “/Safe” command line switch.  You can find instructions for using command line switches with Word  If you find an add-in is responsible, disable or delete it.  If you still can’t find anything causing the problem, there must be a deeper-rooted cause, such as file or registry corruption.  You might need to re-install the software to correct it.  Or it’s possible, that since compatibility between Windows 7 and Office XP was never guaranteed, that a patch released for Win7 has broken a previously working feature of Office XP.  If that turns out to be the case, about all you can do is say “Thanks, Bill!” and finally upgrade your Office.

Q:  My PC won’t make new folders anymore. Sometimes it will make suitcases. I think you had an answer to this. I can’t find the article I clipped from the paper, and guess I am not using the right search words in this site.

– Sandra S.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A:  You have a good memory, Sandra – to a point.  I did cover this issue way back last July (I.G.T.M. Issue #312 – July 14, 2013) .  Where your memory failed you is that they are called “briefcases” not “suitcases”.  So in a way, you are kind-of correct in that you’re not using the right search words.  I used the correct words to search and verified that the article is in the archives on my website at (not .com).  I also tested the hyperlinks contained in the article for you.  Everything is still out there and just waiting for you to come along and fix your computer’s problem.

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