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How to Turn On/Off Safe Mode in Word (The Ultimate Guide)

Safe Mode in MS Word is a useful feature that allows users to troubleshoot issues, recover documents, and resolve conflicts that may arise while working in the application. Understanding how to turn on/off Safe Mode is crucial for maintaining a smooth and uninterrupted workflow. 

In this article, we will explore the concept of Safe Mode in Word, discuss its importance, and provide detailed instructions on how to enable or disable it.

What is Safe Mode?

Safe Mode is a diagnostic mode in MS Word that starts the application with limited functionality, disabling add-ins, customizations, and certain features. 

By running in Safe Mode, users can identify and resolve problems caused by incompatible add-ins, corrupt templates, or other issues that may prevent Word from functioning properly.

The primary purpose of Safe Mode is to provide a clean and stable environment for troubleshooting. 

By temporarily disabling potentially problematic elements, such as add-ins or macros, Safe Mode helps isolate the cause of issues and allows users to resolve them effectively.

Difference between Safe Mode and Normal Mode

Safe Mode and Normal Mode in Word differ in terms of functionality and behavior. While Normal Mode provides the full range of features and customizations, Safe Mode runs with minimal settings to prevent conflicts. 

In Safe Mode, certain advanced features, add-ins, and customizations are disabled, ensuring a more stable environment for troubleshooting and resolving problems.

Reasons to Use Safe Mode in MS Word

Safe Mode can be beneficial in various situations, including:

  1. Troubleshooting: When encountering unexpected errors, crashes, or performance issues in MS Word, Safe Mode helps identify and isolate the cause, allowing for effective troubleshooting.
  2. Add-in conflicts: If MS Word crashes or behaves unexpectedly due to conflicts between add-ins, running in Safe Mode can help pinpoint the problematic add-in and disable it.
  3. Template issues: Corrupt or incompatible templates can cause problems in Word. Safe Mode helps identify and resolve template-related issues by temporarily disabling them.
  4. Document recovery: In cases where a Word document fails to open or becomes corrupted, running in Safe Mode can enable the recovery of unsaved or damaged files.

Turning On Safe Mode in MS Word

There are up to 3 easy ways one can turn on safe mode in Word. Let’s explore these options one after the other.

Method 1: Using a Keyboard Shortcut to enable Safe Mode in Word

Obey the following instructions to start MS Word in Safe Mode using a keyboard shortcut:

  1. Close all instances of MS Word.
  2. Press and hold the “Ctrl” key on your keyboard.
  3. Double-click the MS Word shortcut icon or click on the application’s executable file.
  4. Release the “Ctrl” key when prompted to start Word in Safe Mode.

Note: once you press Ctrl and click on the Word Executable file, Word will prompt you with this message: “do you want to start word in safe mode?”. Select Yes.

Method 2: Using the Run Command to turn on Safe Mode in Word

Obey the following instructions to launch MS Word in Safe Mode with the Run command:

  1. Press “Win + R” on your keyboard to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type “winword /safe” (without quotes) in the Run box.
  3. Click “OK” or press “Enter” to start MS Word in Safe Mode.

Method 3: Accessing Safe Mode from the Start Menu

To open MS Word in Safe Mode from the Start Menu, obey the below instructions:

  1. Click on the “Start” button or press the “Win” key on your keyboard.
  2. Search for “Word” in the search bar.
  3. Press and hold the “Ctrl” key on your keyboard.
  4. Click on the MS Word application icon while holding the “Ctrl” key.
  5. Release the “Ctrl” key when prompted to start Word in Safe Mode.

How to confirm if MS Word is running in Safe Mode

Follow the following instructions to confirm if MS Word is running in safe mode:

1. Look for the words “Safe Mode” in the program title bar.

2. Check the appearance of the ribbon menu for any differences.

3. Verify if certain features or options are disabled or unavailable, indicating the activation of Safe Mode.

Limitations and restrictions in Safe Mode

While running in Safe Mode, MS Word operates with limited functionality. Some features and options may be disabled or unavailable, including:

  1. Add-ins: Most add-ins are disabled in Safe Mode, which may affect certain functionalities or customizations.
  2. Advanced features: Some advanced features, such as macros, may be disabled.
  3. Visual elements: In Safe Mode, certain visual effects, graphics, or rendering options may be turned off to enhance stability.

Tips for troubleshooting common issues in Safe Mode

When troubleshooting issues in Safe Mode, consider the following tips:

  1. Disable add-ins: If you suspect an add-in is causing problems, disable them one by one to identify the problematic one.
  2. Check templates: Examine the templates used in your documents and ensure they are not corrupted or incompatible.
  3. Update software: Keep MS Word and its associated add-ins up to date to minimize compatibility issues.
  4. Seek online resources: Consult official Microsoft support articles, forums, or communities for guidance on specific problems you encounter.

Exiting Safe Mode in MS Word

Method 1: Restarting MS Word

To exit Safe Mode by restarting MS Word:

  1. Close MS Word completely.
  2. Open MS Word again as you would normally.
  3. The application should start in Normal Mode.

Safe Mode in MS Word vs. Other Applications

Safe Mode is not exclusive to MS Word but is also available in other MS Office applications, such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. 

Each application’s Safe Mode operates similarly and aims to provide a stable environment for troubleshooting and resolving issues.

While the overall concept of Safe Mode remains consistent across MS Office applications, there may be slight differences in terms of specific features or settings that are disabled in each application’s Safe Mode. 

Familiarizing yourself with the Safe Mode implementation in each MS Office application can help troubleshoot problems more effectively.

Precautions and recommendations for a smooth Safe Mode experience

To ensure a smooth Safe Mode experience in MS Word, keep the following precautions and recommendations in mind:

  1. Backup important files: Before entering Safe Mode, save your work and create backups of important documents.
  2. Update MS Office: Regularly update MS Office and its components to benefit from bug fixes and compatibility improvements.
  3. Disable unnecessary add-ins: Disable unnecessary add-ins when not in use to minimize the chances of conflicts.
  4. Test changes in Normal Mode: Make changes to settings, templates, or add-ins while in Normal Mode to assess their impact before entering Safe Mode.


In conclusion, knowing how to turn on/off Safe Mode in MS Word is essential for troubleshooting and resolving issues effectively. 

This feature provides a stable environment by disabling potentially problematic elements, allowing users to identify and isolate the causes of issues. 

By following the instructions provided in this article, users can confidently utilize Safe Mode in MS Word, troubleshoot problems, and ensure a smooth and productive Word experience. These techniques works for both Windows and Mac.