A Guide to the MS Office Safe Mode and How It Helps

Safe Featured
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We’ve all bumped into Windows Safe Mode either accidentally or by necessity. We have also experienced how Windows loads with minimal functionality when in safe mode. The idea behind such a setup is to allow the user to debug and fix issues in the machine that are stopping it from booting normally.

Now, did you know that the MS Office suite has a safe mode of its own? Yes, it’s different from the Windows Safe Mode. However, the fundamentals remain the same and it allows you to do with Office applications what Windows Safe Mode allows you to do with Windows.

Again, the idea here is to start Office programs that have run into issues (and are not starting normally) so that you may debug and fix them.

Cool Tip: Firefox users may find it intriguing to learn about the Safe Mode in Firefox and how it can help.

In safe mode most features remain disabled. Here are few snapshots from the MS Word program in safe mode.

Word Safe 1
Word Safe 2
Word Safe 3

The most important and usable item that’s open is Options. This is where you debug the various settings and disable customizations if required.

Automated Safe Mode

Office programs automatically check for issues and problems when you start them. If they encounter any, it tries fixing them before launching.

At times it may need to disable the function causing the problem. If so, it will ask you first and then do what’s needed.

User-Initiated Safe Mode

When the automated safe mode cannot do enough, you must resort to the user-initiated safe mode. Here, you will have to find and fix the problems by yourself. The most common place to look for issues is add-ins and/or extensions.

But before you get into debugging you must know how to open an Office program in safe mode. We will show you three ways.

Using Run Dialog: Open the Run dialog by simultaneously pressing the Windows key and R. Then type winword /safe to launch MS Word in safe mode. For other tools, here are the commands to use:

  • MS Excel: excel /safe
  • MS PowerPoint: powerpnt /safe
  • MS Outlook: outlook /safe
Run Winword Safe

Using Search Dialog: The commands remain the same, except that you type them in the Search box as shown below.

Search Winword Safe

Using Ctrl Key: Locate any MS Office file or application shortcut. Then double click on it while holding the Ctrl key. Before it proceeds to launch the application in safe mode, it will ask for confirmation.

Ctrl Winword Safe

Note: In order to exit the safe mode you just need to close the application you have opened. Then start the application in the normal way.


Being aware of the safe mode on MS Office suite is really helpful. Sometimes the programs just fail at startup for unknown reasons. The safe mode at least takes you through. And then, you can debug a few things; disable third party add-ins/plugins, remove templates from external sources, disable macros, etc.

Last updated on 02 February, 2022

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