Word prompts me to save changes to the Normal.dot template

Applies to
Microsoft Office Word 2003
Microsoft Word 97, 2000, and 2002

By Beth Melton, Microsoft MVP

If you see the following message each time you exit Word, you might be encountering a third-party add-in, a Norton option called the Office Plug-in, or a macro virus.

Prompt to save Normal template

This article covers all of the primary causes for encountering the prompt to save the global template (Normal.dot) each time you exit Word 97 or any later version of Word. Options that are version-specific have been noted. If you are using Norton AntiVirus, see the section titled Norton AntiVirus Office Plug-in option first.

Third-party add-ins

Many third-party manufacturers create an add-in and place it in either the Word Startup folder or the Office Startup folder, or they create a Component Object Model (COM) add-in to integrate their software with Word.

Occasionally you might encounter an add-in that modifies your Normal template each time Word starts. Typically, this modification is due to the add-in's creation of a menu item, toolbar, or toolbar command.

This sounds harmless enough, but unfortunately this type of modification is not the best programming practice. The add-in could start displaying virus-like qualities, such as adding numerous occurrences of the menu or toolbar item, and there is speculation that this can lead to the corruption of the Normal template.

Although it is not advised, you can allow Word to automatically save changes to the global template (Normal.dot) when you exit Word. However, you could encounter the issues previously described, so perform the following steps at your own risk!

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. Click the Save tab.
  3. Clear the Prompt to save Normal template check box.

How can I determine all the add-ins that Word loads when it starts?

If you want a quick method to determine the add-ins that are loaded when Word starts, and to obtain information to assist you in troubleshooting, use the following steps:

  1. On the Tools menu, point to Macro, and then click Security.
  2. On the Security Level tab, set macro security to Medium.

In addition to the previous steps, for Word 2000 and later, do the following:

  1. On the Trusted Publishers tab, clear the Trust all installed add-ins and templates check box.
  2. Select each Trusted Publisher in the Issued to column, and then click Remove.
  3. Exit and restart Word.

When Word starts, you will be prompted to enable or disable macros for each add-in. The message box will also provide the file name and location.

 Note    Although this method can help you determine the file names and locations of the add-ins, you should follow the troubleshooting steps provided in this article to safely disable the add-ins. In some situations, removing or renaming add-in files can result in additional errors.

The file extension will help you determine the type of add-in:

  • Global template or add-in     (.dot or .wll)
  • Dynamic-link library     (.dll)
  • COM add-in or smart tag     File names for Microsoft smart tags typically start with the letter F, such as FPerson.DLL, FDate.DLL, FPlace.DLL, or FStock.DLL, and the files are located in the Microsoft Shared\Smart Tag folder. File names for third-party smart tags vary. However, smart tags have not been known to cause modifications to the Normal template at this time.

Global templates and add-ins

Global templates (.dot or .wll) are the most common form of third-party add-ins. To determine if you are using global templates, click Templates and Add-Ins on the Tools menu.

If any files are listed under Global templates and add-ins, they are usually located in either your Word Startup folder or your Office Startup folder.

To prevent a template from being loaded when Word starts, exit Word and move the template out of its respective Startup folder. If you find more than one file, you should move the files one at a time to determine which file is causing the problem.

 Note   You can also rename the files in the Startup folder; however, you must rename the file extension and not the file name. Otherwise the files will still be loaded but under a different name. If in doubt, move the files; you can move them back into the folder at any time.

How to find the location of the Word Startup folder

You can determine where the Word Startup folder is located by using the following steps:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the File Locations tab, under File types, select Startup.
  3. Click Modify.

If you are using Word 2000 or earlier, you can view and copy the path in the Folder name text box and paste it in the Address bar in an Exploring window, such as My Computer, to easily navigate to the folder.

Modify Location dialog box

For Word 2002 and later, use the following additional steps:

  1. Click Up One Level in the Modify Location dialog box.
  2. Right-click the Startup folder, and then click Explore.

    Startup folder shortcut menu

How to determine the location of the Office Startup folder

The Office Startup folder is typically located in the installation path for Office. For example, for Office 2003, the installation path is:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\STARTUP

 Note   You can also use Windows Search and search for the file names listed in the Templates and Add-ins dialog box. Some COM add-ins may manually add a global template, in which case using Windows Search is the only means of locating the file.

COM add-ins

As of Word 2000 and later, Word can have COM add-ins (.dll files), which are added through the registry rather than the Startup folders. To check for COM add-ins, you can use the COM Add-Ins command to access the COM Add-Ins dialog box:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Customize.
  2. On the Commands tab, under Categories, click Tools.
  3. Under Commands, click COM Add-Ins.

    Customize dialog box with COM Add-Ins command selected
  4. Drag the COM Add-Ins command to a toolbar location of your choice.

 Note   To prevent an add-in from being loaded, clear its check box in the COM Add-Ins dialog box.

For more information about COM add-ins, click the link in the See Also box.

Microsoft Works Suite add-in for Word

If Word is installed on your computer as part of the Microsoft Works Suite, it includes an add-in that is known to cause the prompt to save the Normal template each time you exit Word. The add-in can cause multiple Mail Merge commands to appear on the Tools menu.

It is recommended that you uninstall the Works Suite add-in if you are not using the following features:

  • Works Task Launcher
  • Works Mail Merge functionality (if you are using the Works address book or Works database as a mail merge data source)
  • Word to Works Converter

To remove the Works Suite add-in

  1. On the Start menu, click Control Panel.
  2. Click Add/Remove Programs.
  3. Select Microsoft Works Suite Add-in for Word.
  4. Click Uninstall.

 Note   Not all COM add-ins will display in the COM Add-Ins dialog box, because the dialog box displays only the add-ins that are installed for each individual user. Add-ins that are installed for all users (by computer) are not displayed. Additional add-in information can be found in System Information under Microsoft Office 2003 Applications, Microsoft Office Word 2003. To view System Information from Word, on the Help menu, click About Microsoft Word , and then click System Info.

Norton AntiVirus Office Plug-in option

If you have Norton AntiVirus installed, the Office Plug-in option used by Norton AntiVirus is causing the message to save the Normal template. Word typically exhibits behaviors based on the setting of the Prompt to save Normal template option (Tools menu, Options command, Save tab), which are detailed in the following scenarios.

Scenario 1: If "Prompt to save Normal template" is turned off

When you exit Word, you encounter the following message:

The file Normal already exists. Do you want to replace the existing file?

  1. If you answer No, you are prompted with the Save As dialog box.
  2. If you click Cancel in the Save As dialog box, you return to Word.
  3. When you attempt to exit Word a second time, you encounter the following message:

Changes have been made that affect the global template, Normal. Do you want to save those changes?

  1. If you click Cancel, Word closes.

Scenario 2: If "Prompt to save Normal template" is turned on

When you exit Word, you encounter the following message:

Changes have been made that affect the global template, Normal. Do you want to save those changes?

  1. If you answer Yes, you are prompted with the following message:

The file Normal already exists. Do you want to replace the existing file?

  1. If you answer No, you are prompted with the Save As dialog box.
  2. If you click Cancel, you return to Word.
  3. When you attempt to exit Word a second time, you encounter the following message:

Changes have been made that affect the global template, Normal. Do you want to save those changes?

  1. If you click Cancel, Word closes.

Resolutions for both scenarios

Method 1     If Norton AntiVirus is installed, use the following steps.

 Note   If you are not using Norton AntiVirus, or if you use Norton CE or Norton System Works, see Method 2.

  1. Exit Word, and exit Outlook if you are using Word as your e-mail editor.
  2. Open Norton AntiVirus.
  3. Click Options, click Miscellaneous, and then clear the Enable Office Plug-in check box.

Office Plug-in option

Method 2     If you do not use Norton AntiVirus but it was previously installed, the Office Plug-in could still be registered. For example, maybe you upgraded Norton Antivirus to Norton System Works or Norton Corporate Edition.

  1. Use Windows Search and search for the OFFICEAV.DLL file.
  2. If OFFICEAV.DLL is found, click Start, click Run, and then enter the following command in the Open box:

regsvr32 /u "C:\Program Files\Norton Antivirus\OFFICEAV.DLL"

 Note   Use the file location for your OFFICEAV.DLL file if it varies from the example provided.

  1. Click OK.

If the command runs successfully, you will be prompted with the following message:

DLLUnregisterServer in "C:\Program Files\Norton Antivirus\OFFICEAV.DLL" succeeded.

Unregister confirmation

For additional details about using the Unregister command, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base article "How to use Office programs with the Norton AntiVirus Office plug-in" by clicking the link in the See Also box, which is available when you are connected to the Internet.

A macro virus

If you suspect that a macro virus is causing you to be prompted to save the Normal template each time you exit Word, update your virus scanner and perform a full scan on all files.

About the author

Beth Melton instructs computer classes for local area colleges and develops custom solutions for businesses and nonprofit organizations. She has been a Microsoft Office Systems MVP since 2000 and is a Microsoft Office Specialist Master Instructor.

 
 
Applies to:
Word 2003