What to Do When Word Document Does Not Open on Mac

Quick Fix

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Microsoft Office is compatible with Big Sur and has been optimized to work smoothly with the latest macOS version. Users often rely on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office apps for work and school projects. Here are some of the Microsoft Office changes for Big Sur users:

  • Updated Notification Center
    A redesigned Notification Center puts all your notifications and widgets into a single, dedicated column. Notifications are automatically sorted by most recent, and redesigned Today widgets deliver information at a glance.
  • Optimized Battery Charging
    Optimized Battery Charging is designed to reduce the wear on your battery and improve its lifespan by ensuring that your Mac notebook is fully charged when unplugged. Optimized Battery Charging learns your daily charging routine and activates only when your Mac predicts that it will be connected to a charger for an extended period of time. For PowerPoint, there are some improvements in photo/video editing before importing into a presentation.
  • Photos
    More video editing options to change exposure, add filters or rotate a video. Retouch tool has been improved to fix blemishes, dust marks and other nuisances from photos. Add Captions to photos to photos or videos. Captions is the new name for Descriptions.
  • More Fonts
    20 new document fonts with the current 18 fonts upgraded with more weights and italics. Messages in any of the 23 Indian languages can now add a matching effect.
  • More Emoji
    Big Sur updates the emoji font to include the same 117 emoji just added to iOS 14.2. In other words, the Apple Color Emoji font changes in Big Sur.

These new features bring more excitement to Microsoft Office users, given that the app works fine. Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy these features because according to some reports, Word document does not open on Mac. After upgrading to Big Sur, Finder does not indicate it opened Word.

How to Open Word document on Mac

Normally, opening a Word document on macOS Big Sur should be the same as opening it on other versions of macOS. You can simply double-click on the file and it should open with Microsoft Word if it is set as your default app for documents. Or you can right-click on the file and select Word to open it with.

Word Document Does Not Open on Mac

After the release of macOS 11, a number of Microsoft Office users complained about issues when opening a Word document on macOS Big Sur. Whenever the user tries to open a Microsoft Word file in Finder, the file does not automatically pop up. In other words, nothing happens. The Word icon on the dock does not even bounce, which indicates that the document is being opened.

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However, when the user clicks on the Word app, he or she finds that the file is already open. This doesn’t happen all the time. There are times when the user can open the document normally. But half of the time, Finder does not indicate it opened Word and the user needs to click the app to check.

The case is different for other users. There are those who can’t open the files totally using Microsoft Word even though the app is the default program for that kind of file. Other users experience the problem not just with Microsoft Word but other Microsoft Office apps as well, such as Excel and PowerPoint, making it so frustrating for Office users.

How to Fix Microsoft Word Issue in Big Sur

Both Office 2019 and Microsoft/Office 365 for Mac works with Big Sur. Just upgrade to Big Sur and Office should keep on working normally. Microsoft recommends updating Office before updating to Big Sur. This ensures you have the latest Office build with anything necessary for Big Sur compatibility.

Warning: Office 2016 for Mac is not supported by Microsoft (no bug fixes or OS compatibility updates after October 2020). Office 2016 should work on Big Sur but Microsoft does not guarantee its performance and Microsoft won’t help with troubleshooting errors encountered using this version.

If you’re running the updated version of Microsoft Office and you encounter issues when opening files, here are some fixes you can try:

Fix #1: Run Repair Disk Permissions.

You might be having problems opening Word files because of permission errors. To fix this:

  1. In Finder, open the Go menu, click Utilities.
  2. Start the Disk Utility program.
  3. Choose the primary hard disk drive for your computer.
  4. Then, click the First Aid tab.
  5. Click Run to repair the disk volume errors and permissions.
  6. When it finishes, click Done.

You can also repair permissions via Terminal by using this command: diskutil resetUserPermissions / `id -u`

After doing the steps above, try opening Microsoft Office documents and see if you can now open them normally.

Fix #2: Delete Word Preferences.

  1. Open Library by clicking Go > Go to the folder, then type ~/Library.
  2. Locate a folder named Preferences.
  3. Find a file named com.microsoft.Word.plist. Move the file to the desktop.
  4. Start Word, and check whether the problem still occurs.
  5. If the problem still occurs, exit Microsoft Word, and then restore the com.microsoft.word.prefs.plist file to its original location.
  6. If the problem seems to be resolved, you can move the file to the trash.
  7. If the problem still exists, exit all Microsoft Office for Mac programs.
  8. Then, click the Word icon. On the left, click Preferences.
  9. Click File Locations.
  10. Select User templates.
  11. Locate the file that is named Normal, and move the file to the desktop.
  12. You can also find the file named as Normal through this way: Library > Application Support > Microsoft > Office > User Templates > Normal.

Start Word, and check whether the problem still occurs. If the problem seems to be resolved, you can move the Normal file to the trash. Make sure all files have been deleted completely by sweeping your system using a Mac cleaner.

Fix #3: Try to Open and Repair Word.

  1. Start Word. On the File menu, click Open.
  2. In the Open dialog box, select the file that you want to open.
  3. Click the down arrow on the Open button, click Open > Repair.

Wrapping Up

Microsoft Office is an important suite for most computer users, especially Word. If you’re having issues opening Word documents or other Microsoft files, you can try the fixes above to get it working again.

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