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Chapter 3. Help! > What to Do When Office Crashes

What to Do When Office Crashes

Office applications are relatively stable, but sooner or later, one will crash while you are using it. When an application crashes, it generally locks up and becomes unresponsive. You can click the application all you want, but it remains frozen.

You can use the Microsoft Office Application Recovery tool, shown in Figure 3.18, to make sure your work is saved in the event that the Office application you are working in hangs. In Office 2003 you use Application Recovery instead of the old method of ending processes from the Windows Task Manager.

Figure 3.18. Application Recovery enables you to close a hung Office application without losing your work.

To use Application Recovery, you select the hung application from the list of running Office applications and click either Recover Application or End Application. Clicking Recover Application forces the hung application to close, at which point you can choose to send a report to Microsoft about the crash. Application Recovery then automatically recovers the document you were working on and opens it in the application again. Clicking End Application button simply forces the hung application to close. In either case, Application Recovery closes automatically when it’s done.

What happens to your data when an application crashes depends in part on the application and in part on how the application is configured. For example, Access saves most changes as you make them, so you are not likely to lose any data if Access hangs. Outlook is similar, in that changes typically take place immediately, so there is little chance of data loss if Outlook hangs.

Word, Excel, applications and PowerPoint include an AutoRecover feature that by default saves recovery information every 10 minutes. When the application restarts after a hang, it displays an AutoRecover pane that enables you to select the document to recover. The most you lose is the work done on the document since the last AutoRecover save. You can configure the AutoRecover period on the Save tab of the application’s Options dialog box (which you open by choosing Tools, Options).

In many cases, a hung Office application will restart in Safe mode, which disables certain features that could have caused the application to hang and enables the application to start. The application prompts you to verify that you want it to open in Safe mode; you click Yes to do so or No to open the application normally.

If you are unable to open an application or if it crashes repeatedly, you can open the application in Safe mode and repair it. When you do this, any missing or corrupted application files are replaced:

Hold down the Ctrl key when you start the application to start it in Safe mode.

Choose Help, Detect and Repair to open the Detect and Repair dialog box (see Figure 3.19).

Figure 3.19. You can choose options for repairing an application.

Click Start to start the repair process.

The Absolute Minimum

All the Microsoft Office applications provide a consistent Help interface that gives you information about each program feature and how to accomplish specific tasks. In almost every case, Help is just a key away—you can just press F1 to open Help.

This chapter lists other sources of information to help you learn to use Office effectively and what to do when an Office application crashes so you don’t lose your document.

Now that you have a good understanding of how to work in Office applications and get help when you need it, you’re ready to dive right in. Chapter 4, “Keeping Track of People and Places by Using Contacts,” introduces you to Microsoft Outlook, which you can use to manage email, contacts, a calendar, and more.

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