Mac Fixes

Microsoft Keeps Crashing on Mac

Microsoft Word is undoubtedly the world’s most well-known word processing app. It’s a popular tool for writers, students, teachers, and anyone who has to deal with text files on a regular basis. But like any other program, Word can occasionally freeze and stop working.

 

The introduction of auto-save means sudden crashes aren’t as devastating as they used to be, but they’re still an issue and can have an impact on your productivity. In this article, we tackle some of the most likely fixes when Microsoft Word keeps crashing on Mac—continue to learn our lifehacks.

 

Before we start

 

Corrupted cache files can cause apps like Microsoft Word to crash. You can look for these files manually and delete them, but it’s much easier to use MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup feature. It’ll search your Mac for cache files and other unnecessary data, and then delete it with a single click.

 

Here’s how to try MacKeeper’s cleaning scan for free:

  1. Download and start MacKeeper, then click Safe Cleanup on the left-hand side.
  2. Click Start Scan.
  3. Select Caches, and choose everything you want to delete.
  4. Click the Clean Junk Files button.

As you see, the app comes with one free fix, so you can properly test it, without any commitments.  

Why does Microsoft Word keep crashing on Mac?

There are many things that can cause Word to crash. If Word keeps closing on your Mac, it could be caused by any one of these factors or even a combination of them. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Your hard drive has the wrong name.
  • There’s an issue with your auto-recovery folder.
  • Word needs to be updated.
  • Your user account isn’t working.
  • A third-party driver is malfunctioning.
  • Your Microsoft Word app has become corrupted.

How to fix if Microsoft Word keeps crashing on Mac

If Word keeps quitting on your Mac, you risk losing any unsaved work, and it can cause files to become corrupted and unreadable. It’s important to solve this problem as soon as possible. Here are the most common fixes:

  1. Check the name of the hard drive
  2. Clear the auto-recovery folder
  3. Reset preferences and restart your Mac
  4. Save the Word document elsewhere
  5. Check Word updates
  6. Create a new account
  7. Enter safe mode on your Mac
  8. Start Disk Utility on your Mac
  9. Reinstall Microsoft Office for Mac

1. Check the name of the hard drive

Weirdly, the name of your Mac’s hard drive can cause issues with Microsoft Word, including random crashes. Here’s how to check your hard drive’s name:

  1. Open Disk Utility from Applications > Utilities.
  2. Select your system disk from the sidebar, and check its name starts with a letter, rather than a number. It also shouldn’t contain any special characters.
The macOS Disk Utility app can be found under Applications > Utilities. Open it, and you'll be able to see information about your Mac's various disks.
Step 1. Open Disk Utility
In Disk Utility, select your Mac's system disk in the sidebar. Check that its name doesn't include any special characters.
Step 2. Check your disk name

2. Clear the auto-recovery folder

There’s a folder on your Mac that contains all the automatically saved documents that can accumulate over time and cause Word to glitch. Clearing out that folder may solve the problem:

  1. Open Finder and select Go > Go to Folder in the top menu bar.
  2. Type or paste in ~/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Word/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery and hit Return.
  3. Delete the contents of the AutoRecovery folder.
Click a Finder window or your Mac's desktop. Then select Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar.  This will bring up another window.
Step 1. Select Go to Folder
Type in
Step 2. Go to the AutoRecovery folder
Drag the AutoRecovery folder to the Trash, or right-click it and select
Step 3. Delete the AutoRecovery folder

3. Reset Word preferences and restart Mac

Your Mac stores all kinds of settings for your apps, including Word. Resetting these preferences can help when Word keeps closing by itself. Here’s how:

  1. In Word, select Word > Preferences from the menu bar.
  2. Click File Locations.
  3. Select User Templates from the list, then click Reset. Restart your Mac.
Open Word, then select Word > Preferences from the menu bar at the top left of your screen. This will get you into the app's settings.
Step 1. Open Word's preferences
You'll see a variety of areas, from which you can edit Word's settings. Click 'File Locations', under 'Personal Settings'.
Step 2. Click File Locations
Next, you need to click 'User templates' to select it, and then click the 'Reset' button. After doing this, try Word on your Mac again.
Step 3. Select user templates and click Reset

4. Save the Word document elsewhere

Where you’ve saved your Word file could be the reason for crashing issues. Perhaps the folder you’ve stored the file in has the wrong permissions, or maybe you’ve saved your file to an external drive that’s failing. Save your document somewhere else like this:

  1. Open your Word document, and select File > Save As from your menu bar.
  2. Select a new location, and click Save.
Open your Word document, then go to the menu bar and select File > Save As. This will allow you to choose where your file will go.
Step 1. Select Save As
In the 'Save As' menu, you can change the name of your file and where it's stored. Choose a new location, then click the 'Save' button.
Step 2. Choose a new location for your file

5. Check Word updates

It’s common to experience issues with outdated software, but it’s especially critical with Office programs for macOS. Microsoft autoupdate on Mac should handle this, but follow these steps to make sure you’re using the latest version of Word available for your Mac:

  1. In Word, select Help > Check for updates in the menu bar.
  2. Click Check for updates.
  3. Click the arrow to see more details.
Open Word on Mac, then go to the menu bar, and choose Help > Check for updates. This will open AutoUpdate.
Step 1. Select Check for updates
In the Microsoft AutoUpdate window, you'll see a button that says 'Check for Updates'. Click this and the app will search for updates.
Step 2. Click the Check for updates button
Click the small arrow in the top right, and you'll expand the window, revealing which updates are available for your Microsoft apps.
Step 3. See which updates are available

6. Create a new account

Specifically, you should try creating a new macOS user account. This is because settings, drivers, preferences, and other data may be corrupted or incorrectly set up in your current user account. Here’s what to do:

  1. Open System Preferences, and select Users & Groups. Click Add User.
  2. Enter your password and click Unlock.
  3. Enter the details for your new user, and click Create User. Log into this new account and try Word again.
Open up System Settings, and click 'Users & Groups' in the sidebar. From there, click the 'Add User' button in this window.
Step 1. Open Users & Groups and add a user
You'll be prompted to enter your Mac's password. Enter this into the box, then press Return or click the 'Unlock' button.
Step 2. Enter your details
Enter all the details for your new macOS user account, including the name, password, and password hint, if you want.
Step 3. Set up your new user

7. Enter safe mode on your Mac

This is a classic way to troubleshoot problems with macOS. Safe mode boots up your Mac only with the software and drivers that come with the operating system. If Word stops crashing in safe mode, then the issue is likely caused by a third-party driver.

 

Boot an Apple Silicon Mac into safe mode like this:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Press and hold power until you see Loading startup options.
  3. Choose a volume.
  4. Press and hold the Shift key, then Continue in Safe Mode.

On an Intel Mac, get into a safe mode like this:

  1. Turn on or restart your Mac, and immediately press and hold Shift.
  2. When you see the login window, release Shift.
  3. Log into your Mac. Log in again, if you’re prompted to.

8. Start Disk Utility on your Mac

It’s possible more fundamental problems relating to your internal disk are why Word keeps quitting. Running the First Aid function in Disk Utility can help:

  1. Press Control+Space to open Spotlight and search for Disk Utility to open it. Choose your drive from the sidebar. Click First Aid.
  2. Click Run.
  3. Click Continue, and let the process run.
Open up Disk Utility from Applications > Utilities. Select your Mac's system drive, then click the First Aid button at the top.
Step 1. Click the First Aid button
A new on-screen prompt will pop up, asking you to confirm you want to run the First Aid command. Click Run.
Step 2. Click the Run button
You'll see another warning about how long it might take to run First Aid. Make sure you've saved your work, then click the Continue button.
Step 3. Click Continue

9. Reinstall Microsoft Office for Mac

This is the last resort that is likely to work if your previous installation of Word didn’t go the way it was supposed to. Go through these steps to reinstall Word on Mac:

  1. Quit all the Microsoft Office apps that you’re currently running.
  2. Open the Applications folder in Finder, and send every Microsoft Office app to the Trash.
  3. Go to the App Store and reinstall the suite.
If you have Microsoft apps running on your Mac, make sure to quit them first. You can do this in a few different ways, including from the dock.
Step 1. Quit all your Microsoft apps
Now, go to your Applications folder and find your Microsoft apps. Select them all and then delete them from your Mac.
Step 2. Move your Microsoft apps to Trash
Reinstall your apps from the App Store or using an official Microsoft installer. Now restart Word and see if it works properly.
Step 3. Install your apps again

How to recover damaged and unsaved Word documents on Mac

Word’s auto-save function only kicks in when you’ve saved a file manually at least once. However, if your Word file was never saved or if it’s damaged, you might still be able to recover it, like this:

1. Select the target location

Word has an AutoRecover function, which may help you get back unsaved data if the app crashes. Check in this AutoRecover folder on your Mac for recovered files like this:

  1. In Finder, select Go > Go to Folder in the menu bar. Type ~/Library/Containers/com.Microsoft/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery and press Return.
  2. Check the AutoRecovery folder for files and try to open them.
You might find Word has stored versions of your files in its AutoRecovery folder, which you can find using Finder. This can let you restore files.

2. Search for lost files

Using Word’s search feature, you might be able to recover damaged or unsaved files. Here’s how:

  1. In Word, select File > Open Recent > More from the menu bar.
  2. Type the name of your file in the search bar in the top right. Double-click the file you want to open.  
Open Word, then select File > Open Recent > More from the menu bar at the top. This will reveal files you've recently opened.
Step 1. Open recent files
Using the search bar at the top right of the recent files window, you can search for the file you're trying to recover.
Step 2. Search for your file in Word

3. Recover Word files

You can also try recovering text from a damaged Word file by following these instructions:

  1. Open Word, and choose Word > Preferences from the menu bar. Click General.
  2. Tick Confirm file format conversion when opening. Close the preferences pane.
  3. Select File > Open from the menu bar. Select your file, choose Recover Text from the Open drop-down menu, then click Open.
Open up your Word Preferences pane in Word for Mac. Then select 'General', under 'Authoring and Proofing Tools'.
Step 1. Select General
In the 'General' settings for Microsoft Word for Mac, make sure that 'Confirm file format when opening' is selected.
Step 2. Confirm file format when opening
Next, select File > Open from the Word menu bar. Then in the bottom right of the window, use the 'Open' drop-down to select 'Recover text'.
Step 3. Select Recover Text

How to prevent Word crashing on Mac

There are a few other things you might want to try if you find Microsoft Word keeps crashing unexpectedly on your Mac. Do these, and hopefully, you can prevent future Word issues:

  • Keep everything up to date: Not just Word or even just Microsoft apps. Keep macOS and all your third-party apps up to date, because incompatibilities can cause crashes.
  • Close unneeded apps: Running lots of apps at once can eat into your system’s RAM and tie up your processor, which may cause Word to close itself.
  • Check your Microsoft licenses: Are you using an authentic copy of Word? If you’ve bought a fake license, it could cause issues with your software’s performance. You should also check your license if you get a warning saying your account doesn’t allow editing on a Mac.

Other fixes for common Word on Mac issues

Aside from Word quitting by itself, you might also experience other issues with Microsoft’s popular word processor. If so, check out this list:

1. Word is frozen on Mac

When your Mac is processing a particularly difficult task or working on multiple things at once, you’ll see the rainbow spinning beach ball. This is usually nothing to be concerned about—it should go away fairly quickly. But sometimes it doesn’t, and Word gets frozen, in which case, follow these steps:

  1. Give it a minute. If you have an older iMac or MacBook, you might just need to wait a bit longer.
  2. If you’ve waited for a long time and nothing happens, force quit Word and try again.

Still having issues? Check out our guide on what to do when your Mac freezes.

2. How to Force Quit Word on Mac

If you can’t close a document when Word is frozen, you might need to force quit the app. This is fine as long as your auto-save has been enabled, otherwise, you’ll lose all your progress. Here’s how to force quit Word:

  1. Press Cmd+Opt+Escape to open Force Quit Applications.  Select Microsoft Word, and click Force Quit.
  2. Click Force Quit.
Press Cmd+Opt+Esc to bring up the Force Quit Applications window. Go through the list, select Microsoft Word, and click 'Force Quit'.
Step 1. Open Force Quit Applications
Confirm in the pop-up window that you want to quit Microsoft Word for Mac. Click 'Force Quit', and Word will shut down.
Step 2. Quit Microsoft Word

3. Microsoft Word not responding or won't open on Mac

You may come across an issue when Word stops responding whenever you try to launch it. If you have to use the Force Quit feature every time you attempt to start the program, Word’s preferences may have become corrupted. Fix them like in two steps:

  1. Rename your Word document
  2. Delete Word’s preferences files

Rename your Word document

You might have a problem opening a .word doc if its name contains special characters. Follow these simple steps to rename your file:

  1. Find the Word file you want to rename and right-click. Select Rename.
  2. Type in the new name. Make sure it’s just letters and/or numbers, then try launching the app again.
Renaming your Word files might help when Word is crashing or shutting down on your Mac. Right-click the file and choose 'Rename'.
Step 1. Right-click your file and select Rename
You'll now see a cursor, which indicates that you type in a new name. Give your file a name using standard characters and try Word again.
Step 2. Give your file a new name

Delete Word’s preferences file

After you’ve deleted Word’s preferences file, it will reset the app’s setup, which can clear faulty settings that may be causing Word to freeze up or crash. Here’s how to delete Word’s preferences:

  1. In Finder, select Go > Go to Folder in the menu bar. Type ~/Library/Preferences, and press Return.
  2. Delete the com.microsoft.Word.plist and com.microsoft.office.plist files if you see them. Restart Word.
In Finder, choose Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar, then type in '~/Library/Preferences' and press Return to open your Preferences folder.
Step 1. Go to your Mac's Preferences folder
Go through the contents of the Preferences folder and look for anything related to Microsoft Word. Delete it, then try Word for Mac again.
Step 2. Delete anything related to Word

4. Microsoft Word slow on Mac

Various factors can cause Microsoft's performance to become laggy. This checklist of potential slowdown fixes may help:

Turn off the spell checker

When this is turned on, Word will constantly check your content for potential spelling and grammar errors. This may cause the software to lag, particularly with larger files. Luckily, you can turn it off:

  1. Open Word’s preferences from the menu bar, under Word > Preferences. Select Spelling & Grammar.
  2. Untick Check spelling as you type. Close the preferences pane.
The auto spell checking function has the potential to slow down Microsoft Word on your Mac. Access its settings in Word Preferences.
Step 1. Open Spelling & Grammar settings
In the Spelling & Grammar section of Microsoft Word, under the 'Spelling' section, make sure 'Check spelling as you type' is turned off.
Step 2. Turn off auto spell checking

Disable your firewall

When Office attempts to connect to the internet upon startup, firewalls can block this connection, causing the program to work slowly. Although this isn’t a good long-term solution, you can temporarily disable the macOS firewall:

  1. Open System Settings, and select Network from the sidebar menu. Click Firewall.
  2. Use the switch to toggle the firewall off.
You might find Word performs better when you turn off the macOS firewall. You can find this in your Mac's System Settings, under 'Network'.
Step 1. Go to your Mac's network settings
In the 'Network' section of your Mac's System Settings, you'll see an option to turn the firewall on and off. Click the switch to disable it.
Step 2. Turn off the firewall

Close demanding background processes

Your Mac may be running all kinds of apps and processes in the background. If any of these are taking a toll on your processor or RAM, then you might find they affect the performance of Microsoft Word. Check for these processes and close them:

  1. Press Cmd+Space to open Spotlight, then search for and open Activity Monitor.
  2. In the CPU section, click the % CPU column to sort it by CPU usage.
  3. To close a process, double-click it, then click the Quit button.
You can open your Mac's Activity Monitor using Spotlight. Press Cmd+Spacebar, then type in 'Activity Monitor' to find it.
Step 1. Open Activity Monitor
In the Activity Monitor tool, click 'CPU' at the top of the window to open the CPU monitoring area. Sort by CPU usage to apps to close.
Step 2. Go to the CPU section
Double-click on an app or process in Activity Monitor, and it will bring up a new window. Click the 'Quit' button to stop a process running on your Mac.
Step 3. Quit processes to save on system resources

Alternatives to Microsoft Word for Mac

Although Word is popular, it’s not the only word processor around. There are many alternatives for Mac, and practically all of them are compatible with Microsoft Word files. Should you continue having issues with Word closing down unexpectedly, here are just a few alternatives you can try:

  • Pages: Available on macOS and iOS, Pages is Apple’s free word processor. It has the company’s design ethos stamped all over it, with a simple, intuitive interface and more of a visual focus than Word.
  • Apache OpenOffice: This free app is one of several office apps that branched off from the now discontinued OpenOffice.org. It’s completely free and open source.
  • LibreOffice: Another open-source office suite based on OpenOffice.org. Try it out if you’re having issues with Microsoft Word.
  • Google Docs: Google’s cloud-based word processor works inside your web browser. It’s nowhere near as feature-rich as Microsoft Word, but it has one big advantage—cloud storage and auto-saving by default. As soon as you start typing, Google Docs saves your file to your account, and you can access it from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Microsoft 365: Probably the best alternative to Microsoft Word is… Microsoft Word—specifically the cloud-based version. This gives you a lot of the Word features you’re used to, but with the added benefits of cloud computing. There are paid subscriptions, but you can also get free Microsoft Word for Mac.
If you're having issues with Word on Mac, then Apple's very own Pages app is a very good alternative. And it's free too.
Apple's Pages app
Apache OpenOffice is based on the open-source app OpenOffice. It's not as good as it once was, but it's free  and works okay.
Apache OpenOffice
LibreOffice is another app based on OpenOffice. It's a pretty good alternative to Word for Mac, and it open Word files too.
LibreOffice
Google Docs is free and it's cloud based. That means you can access your files from anywhere, on practically any device with a browser.
Google Docs
Microsoft also offers Microsoft 365, its cloud-based tools, which include a version of Word. It's worth trying if Word for Mac isn't working.
Microsoft 365

Say goodbye to issues with Microsoft Word

If you’re like a lot of computer users, then you rely on Microsoft’s tools practically every day. When Word keeps closing by itself, it can quickly become frustrating and a huge waste of time. We’ve looked at multiple solutions to this issue here, and hopefully one of them works for you, so you don’t keep losing your work.

 

Whenever you’re troubleshooting such issues, though, we recommend giving MacKeeper a try. Its Safe Cleanup tool can clear your Mac of junk files and other unneeded data in a matter of moments. When you’re trying to solve a problem with Microsoft Word for Mac, it could be just what you need.

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