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Normal template wiped, again

AlexanderHowardAH asked on

I use Word 2016, running on Windows 10.  I use vast numbers of Macros, autocorrects and autotext, all saved in the Normal template.  The template has just been wiped without my intervention and reset to a factory default, losing all my settings, macros etc.  This has happened before (I saved a spare 'Normal' after that, which seems to have vanished.)

Why is this happening and how can I stop it?  Is there a keypress perhaps which I inadvertently used?  (Erm, it has changed the keyboard to an American one too!)

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Rob_L [MSFT] replied on

Please note that the following applies to both Word the application as well as Word when used as the email editor in Outlook.  Whenever “Word” and “Normal.dotm” is referenced, it also applies to “Word in Outlook” and “NormalEmail.dotm” respectively.

We (the product team) have identified a problem that occurs after the latest update (version 16.0.6366.nnnn) to Office is applied. After the update, Word will rename the existing Normal.dotm to “Normal.dotm.old” during startup (or NormalEmail.dotm in the case of Word as the email editor for Outlook).

This means that all of the content in that original Normal.dotm (macros, autotext entries, styles, etc.) will no longer be loaded by Word, and when Word shuts down, a new “clean” Normal.dotm will be created.

All of the original customizations/content that was present in Normal.dotm are preserved, but they are now in a different file in your Templates directory. To recover this content, you need to restore the Normal template. Here’s a walkthrough on how to restore your Normal.dotm in your templates directory.

1.    Close Microsoft Word.

2.    Press Windows + R and type in %appdata%\Microsoft\Templates and press Enter.

You are now looking at the Templates that Word (and other Office apps) use. (Note that if you “file extensions” turned on, then you may see slightly different names). You should see a file named “Normal” of type “Microsoft Word Macro Enabled Template”. This is your current Normal template (which is missing the data you want). 

Let’s save a backup of this normal template just in case.

3.    Rename the "Normal.dotm" file to "NormalBeforeRestore.dotm". You can rename the file by right-clicking it, selecting "Rename," and typing in the new name.

Now we have to determine which file to restore. The issue we identified typically results in a file called “Normal.dotm.old”, but under some circumstances, there could be other saved versions of your Normal template in that directory as well.

You should see at least one of the following: “Normal.dotm.old”, “NormalPre”, “NormalPre15”, “NormalOld”, or “OldNormal”.  If you see more than one of these files, then you will need to choose the correct file to restore; this is likely the file with the most recent “Date modified” value, which should be “Normal.dotm.old”. Don’t worry if you choose the wrong one, you can repeat steps 4-6 as many times as necessary to find the right file.

4.    Select the file you want to restore. Right click and select “Copy”.

5.    Now create the copy of the file by clicking the Home tab and choosing “Paste”. (or press Ctrl + V)

6.    Now select the new file you just created and rename it.  Right-Click and select “Rename”.

    • If you have file extensions turned on, or if the file you are renaming is called “Normal.dotm.old” or “Copy of Normal.dotm.old”, then you will need to rename the file to “normal.dotm”. You may be warned about changing the file extension – this is OK.

    • If you do not have file extensions turned on and the file is not called “Normal.dotm.old” or “Copy of normal.dotm.old”, then rename the file to “Normal”.

7.    Close File Explorer and launch Word. Your AutoText blocks, Styles, Macros, etc. will now be available for use in your documents.

8.    If you still cannot find your content, and there were other templates in your Templates folder to choose from, then shut down Word, go back to your templates folder, delete Normal and go back to step 4. (we are only making copies in step 5, so you won’t be losing anything when you delete Normal here.)


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Mike Maxey replied on

We now have a Knowledge Base article that walks you through the renaming process.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3129969

Thanks,

-Mike

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This really should not be happening (unless you're on a corporate system where it's SOP), but instead of saving a backup of Normal.dotm, you can save macros and AutoText (and other Quick Parts) in another template. Save it in Word's Startup folder, and it will load on startup and be available to all documents (global). I don't believe it's possible to save formatted AutoCorrect entries anywhere but in the Normal template (and the unformatted ones are saved in .acl files by language), but you can back them up with the AutoCorrect add-in you can get at http://jay-freedman.info.
Microsoft MVP (Word) since 1999
Fairhope, Alabama USA
http://sbarnhill.mvps.org
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One thing that I would do would be to go to Settings in Windows and then double click on Update and Security and the with Windows Update selected, click on Advanced options and change the setting under "Choose how updates are installed" to "Notify to schedule restart".

Then, make sure that Word is NOT running when you do choose to restart the computer after receiving such a notification.

Hope this helps,
Doug Robbins - Word MVP
dkr@mvps.org
dougrobbinsmvp@gmail.com
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AlexanderHowardAH replied on

Thanks.  I have rescued the immediate situation as I found the old copy of "Normal" and copied it to the Templates folder to replace the "factory settings" one.

I will certainly explore the other option you suggest. (I do have documents with embedded macros, such as the one which I used to add all my autocorrects to this machine when I bought it.)

The odd thing is that it happened at all.  I do not recall there being an update yesterday.  It might be a key press I did not know about:  I trigger a lot of macros with multiple key presses, for example [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[Shift]+A runs the macro which reformats the spacing in documents.  A slip of the finger and I could be pressing a combination of keys which does something dramatic.  (There is something I do which switches the keyboard from UK to US - switching off and on again resolves that one.)

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Charles Kenyon replied on

Back in the day of Word 97 I learned to limit the resources I kept in the normal template. It is fragile. Windows 10 messes with stuff, I don't know that this is one of them.

Many of the things you might store in the normal template can be kept in one or more separate Global Templates. You can keep your AutoText and other Building Blocks, macros and keyboard shortcuts there. Your unformatted AutoCorrects are kept in separate language-specific .acl files. You can back up the autocorrect entries that are in your normal template. Moving (Sharing) Customizations in Microsoft Word

At a minimum, keep a backup of your normal template, with a different name.

Charles Kenyon
Attorney at Law
Madison, Wisconsin
word@addbalance.com
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In 30+ years of using Word, including 2016 on Windows 10, I have never had a Normal.dot or more recently Normal.dotm template simply disappear.

The only issue that I have had is that in Word 2010, the VBA Replace() command ceased to work, but I overcame that issue by opening that template and saving it as a Word 97-2003 template, closing it, deleting the .dotm version and then opening the .dot version and resaving it as a .dotm Macro Enabled Template.

There is one thing that users of Windows 10 should do and that is go to Settings>Update and Security and with Windows Update selected, click on Advanced options and then under "Choose how updates are installed" change the setting from "Automatic (recommended)" to "Notify to schedule restart" and then make sure that you do not have any applications running when if you do elect to restart as a result of that notification, rather than just letting it happened the next time you shut down your computer and then later start it again.

Hope this helps,
Doug Robbins - Word MVP
dkr@mvps.org
dougrobbinsmvp@gmail.com
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Are you sure that the Normal template hasn't been renamed to, for example, NormalPre? That may happen, at least in some versions of Word, if you start the program in Safe mode. If so, you can restore macros etc. from that "backup."

Stefan Blom, Microsoft Word MVP
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AlexanderHowardAH replied on

Normal.dotm did not disappear or change its name:  it was simply still there but apparently saved over with what appears to be a factory default:  Calibri 11pt, English US (neither of which I ever use) and of course no macros etc.  The file list showed Normal.dotm as last saved on 17 Dec 15.  I retrieved the situation by replacing it with an old version I had saved just in case.

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Whenever the Normal template is renamed, or deleted, it will be recreated by Word (with factory default settings), so your observation is consistent with what I said in my previous post.

I'm surprised that you didn't find a file called NormalPre.dotm or Normal1.dotm or something similar in the User Templates folder, though. That would be your original Normal.dotm file renamed.

Stefan Blom, Microsoft Word MVP
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Charles Kenyon replied on

In 30+ years of using Word, including 2016 on Windows 10, I have never had a Normal.dot or more recently Normal.dotm template simply disappear.

***

I've never had the normal template disappear. I've had it corrupted. I've had it rewritten. I've had it messed with both by Word installations and by other software. The most recent was with the "upgrade" to Win 10 when I lost not only the normal template but all of my custom settings for a period of about four hours during a work day without warning. There were later recovered automatically. I got my work done on a different computer.

These days when migrating to a new Version of Office, for me it is simpler to transfer my Add-Ins. They need to be checked each time but are modular. I've still got a bunch of macros in my normal.dotm in a module called resources. Most are set as private macros and are intended to be run manually through the vbe rather than through the Word interface.

Charles Kenyon
Attorney at Law
Madison, Wisconsin
word@addbalance.com
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AlexanderHowardAH replied on

It's just done it again!  The file list shows the Normal.dotm file last saved at 16:14 today, and it has gone back to a factory reset.  I don't know what I was doing at that point - probably one of the children playing an on-line game, but no programming happening.  This is getting beyond a joke.

I have found a "Normal.dotm.old":  I have removed the .old suffix to restore it as the Normal template (having deleted the Normal.dotm of 16:14 today.  This seems to have restored the settings and macros.  Whether it will survive another 48 hours, we shall see.

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