Fix "Word could not create the work file" error in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10

Technical Level : Basic

Summary

When you save a document in Microsoft Word, you may receive the following error message:

            Word could not create the work file. Check the Temp environment variable.

Workarounds for the problem are described in the article at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2285187, but they are valid only for Windows 7 and earlier. They are not correct if your operating system is Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. The correct procedure is provided here.


Details

Please Note:

This article is intended only to correct an omission from the article at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2285187. It is not meant to imply that it is the only possible solution to the "work file" error, and it doesn't list any other solutions. Please don't post any more comments about "this didn't work for me".

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Microsoft Word uses the path of the Temporary Internet Files folder that is stored in the registry by Internet Explorer. The error shown in the Summary may occur because the Temporary Internet Files folder is set to a location where you do not have permission to create new temporary files, or to a location that does not exist on your computer.

The Temporary Internet Files folder in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 is in a different location than in Windows 7 and earlier.

The procedure given as Method 1 in the KB2285187 article is not usable in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 because the new location does not appear in the Browse for Folder dialog box in Internet Explorer. The procedure below is based on Method 2 of the KB article.

Preparation

This article contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

            322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

Procedure

This procedure changes the path of the Temporary Internet Files folder that is stored in the registry.

1.  Start the Registry Editor program.

In Windows 8.1, at the Start screen, type regedit. When regedit.exe appears in the Search pane, click it.

In Windows 10, click in the Search box in the task bar and type regedit. When regedit appears in the Search pane, click it.

2.  In the pane on the left side of the Registry Editor window, navigate to and click on the key

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

3.  In the pane on the right side of the Registry Editor window, double-click the Cache entry. The Edit String dialog box opens.

4.   Copy and paste the following into the Value data box and click OK:

%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache

5.   Close the Registry Editor.

Note

The expression %USERPROFILE% is an environment variable that is automatically created by Windows. It always evaluates to the path that contains the profile of the current user, typically "C:\Users\<user name>". To verify that it has the correct value, open a command window and type echo %USERPROFILE%, and press the Enter key.

 

Forum Article Info


Last updated December 12, 2019 Views 19,806 Applies to:

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Thanks very much for this Jay. I was having temp environment errors on Word and Outlook. Changed the registry as you suggested and and now all working fine

Regards.

I was getting that same error when trying to open word. Then did the above steps. I no longer get it when I open up word. I noticed before that the documents folder is read only for some reason and when I try and change that it looks like it goes through then I click on a word file in the documents folder and it throws up that same error that I was getting before, 

"Word could not create the work file. check the temp folder for an environment variable."

I believe it has to do now with permissions to change things but I am not sure.

 Thank you so so much! It worked!! 
Even though the string appeared to be the same, it worked! Thank you!
Excellent!!!
Does not work on Word 2016/Windows 10 

I have Windows 10 and Office 365 Pro Plus subscription through work. Word 2016, Outlook 2016, and Publisher 2016 all gave me the same error message. I was also unable to attach pictures in Word and Publisher.

THANK YOU! (yes, I'm yelling)...took too many calls to Microsoft to get this fixed. Finally.

THANK YOU SO MUCH! I finally found an answer after an hour of searching! Thank you!

I didn't work for me, still have the same problem

Jay, I don't know what CaptainA178 found that solved the problem. I followed yours and it didn't take care of the problem I still get the error which has caused other problems with word.

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