Top 8 Fixes for ‘Word Could Not Create the Work File’ Error on Windows

Using Microsoft Word on Windows may not always be a trouble-free experience. At times, Microsoft Word may prevent you from previewing, opening, or saving documents by displaying the ‘Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable.’ error on your Windows 10 or 11 PC.

Top Fixes for Word Could Not Create the Work File Error on Windows

This seemingly cryptic error message may appear for a variety of reasons, including corrupted files, disk issues, or problems with the environment variables. In this article, we will discuss the relevant solutions for resolving this error on your PC.

1. Turn Off the Preview Pane

If you are only getting the ‘Word could not create the work file’ error while previewing documents in File Explorer, you can turn off the preview pane temporarily. Press the Windows key + E keyboard shortcut to open File Explorer. Click the View menu, go to Show, and disable the Preview pane option.

Disable Preview Pane

Of course, this is just a temporary solution to prevent the error message from appearing. If you want to fix the underlying issue for good, continue with the fixes below.

2. Run SFC and Check Disk Tool

Corrupted system files or disk errors can trigger such errors on Windows. You can try running the built-in System File Checker (SFC) and Check Disk tools to see if that fixes the issue.

Step 1: Right-click on the Start icon and select Terminal (Admin) from the list.

Open Terminal (Admin) on Windows 11

Step 2: Select Yes when the User Account Control (UAC) prompt appears.

Open Terminal UAC Prompt

Step 3: In the console, type the command given below and press Enter.

SFC /scannow
SFC Scan on Windows

Step 4: Wait for the SFC scan to finish, and then execute the following command to run the check disk utility.

chkdsk c: /r /scan /perf
Running Check Disk Utility

Restart your PC after running the above commands, and check if Microsoft Word still shows errors.

3. Add an Environment Variable

The %USERPROFILE% environment variable on Windows allows programs like Microsoft Word to access user-specific data and settings. If this environment variable is missing, Word may not be able to create a work file on your computer. Here’s how you can fix that.

Step 1: Press the Windows key + I keyboard shortcut to open the Settings app. In the System tab, scroll down to select About.

About Menu on Windows

Step 2: Click on Advanced system settings.

Open Advanced System Settings on Windows

Step 3: Click the Environment Variables button. Then, under User variables, click the New button.

Add New Environment Variable

Step 4: In the Variable name field, enter %userprofile%.

Step 5: In the Variable value field, enter C:\Users\[YourUsername]. Then, click OK.

Note: Replace [YourUsername] in the above command with your actual username.

Create a New Environment Variable

Restart your PC after this and check if the error still occurs.

4. Create a Temporary Internet Files Folder

Such errors can also arise if Microsoft Word is unable to create temporary files for the document you are working on. To resolve this, you can manually create a temporary internet files folder using these steps:

Step 1: Press the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run dialog box. Paste the following path in the text box and press Enter.


Note: Replace [YourUsername] in the above command with your actual username.

Run Dialog Box 9

Step 2: In the File Explorer window, press Control+ Shift + N keyboard shortcut to create a new folder. Name it Content.Word and press Enter.

Create a Temporary Internet Files Folder

After creating the above folder, restart your PC one more time and use Microsoft Word again.

5. Check the Default Location for Temporary Internet Files

If the error persists even after creating a folder for temporary internet files, you will need to check the set location of those files. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Press the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run dialog box. Type inetcpl.cpl in the box and press Enter.

Open Internet Properties on Windows

Step 2: In the Internet Properties window, click on Settings. Then, click the Move Folder button.

Change the Default Location for Temporary Internet Files

Step 3: In the Browse for Folder window, navigate to the following folder:

Browse Folder for Temporary Internet Files

Step 4: Within the Windows folder, select INetCache and click OK.

Change the Location for Temporary Internet Files

After you complete the above steps, the error should not appear again.

6. Check OneDrive Location

Are you getting the error message ‘Word could not create the work file’ when saving a document to OneDrive? That could happen if the specified OneDrive location is unavailable. You can try saving your Word document to a different location and see if that helps.

In Microsoft Word, press F12 to bring up the Save as dialog. Navigate to a different location in the OneDrive directory and click Save.

Save Word Files on OneDrive

7. Open Word in Safe Mode

It’s possible that one of your Word add-ins is misbehaving and triggering this error. You can use Microsoft Word in safe mode to check for this possibility. To do so, hold down the Control key and double-click on the Word shortcut. Then, select Yes to confirm.

Open Word in Safe Mode

After Word opens in safe mode, try opening or saving your documents and see if you get any errors. If you don’t, it means one of the add-ins you disabled was causing the problem. To find the culprit, you’ll have to disable all your add-ins and re-enable them one at a time.

Step 1: Open Microsoft Word and click the File menu at the top-left corner.

Word File Menu

Step 2: Select Options from the left sidebar.

Word Options

Step 3: In the Add-ins tab, select COM Add-ins from the Manage drop-down menu and click the Go button next to it.

Open Word Add-ins

Step 4: Clear all the checkboxes to disable your add-ins and hit OK.

Disable Word Add-Ins

Restart Word and enable your add-ins one by one until the error pops up again. After you find the problematic add-in, consider removing it.

8. Re-Register Word Files

If nothing else works, you can consider re-registering Word files on Windows. This will reset the file associations and registry settings for Word documents, resolving any issues. Press the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to access the Run dialog. Type winword.exe /r and press Enter.

Re Register Word Files

Wait for the command to run, and try using Microsoft Word again.

Solving Word Woes

Experiencing errors like ‘Word could not create the work file’ while working or accessing an important document can easily disrupt your experience. Hopefully, one of the fixes above has resolved the issue. If not, you may want to consider using the web version of Microsoft Word for a while.

Last updated on 11 September, 2023

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