Word

Microsoft Word – Show all formatting marks

Microsoft Word 2016 and earlier versions have a handy toggle for ‘Show/Hide paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols’. It’s that backwards P looking thing in the Word ribbon:

… but also choosable from Word’s options under the Display section, called ‘Show all formatting marks’:

By default, this option is off. I had a business requirement to have it on by default, which proved harder to work out than I thought.

Normally for Word and Office, a user option is controlled by the registry. Procmon is great for capturing those changes, but I couldn’t see anything when toggling this option.

Jeremy Moskowitz from PolicyPak gave me a hint on finding the solution on this one; Word sets some of it’s user settings at the time of closing Word, rather than changing an option and pressing ‘OK’.

Once I knew that, the setting was easy to find.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Word\Options

DWORD Value - ShowAllFormatting

1 - Enabled / On

0 - Disabled / Off

Word will read this setting at startup, and write to it at shutdown based on what the setting was last set to.

Using Group Policy Preferences and setting the option ‘Apply once and do not reapply’ to push out the registry setting will make it the default, but let users change it as they please.

Mail Merge Crashes When Opening Data Source

word crash

Sharing another problem and resolution I came across.

Recently, staff started complaining about Mail Merge crashing at the point of selecting a data source use. It was easily recreatable, and caused this event viewer error:

Faulting application name: WINWORD.EXE, version: 14.0.7113.5001, time stamp: 0x52866c04
Faulting module name: mso.dll, version: 14.0.7106.5003, time stamp: 0x5231bdf1
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x00c23ab0
Faulting process id: 0xe48
Faulting application start time: 0x01d204e6d69112b6
Faulting application path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\WINWORD.EXE
Faulting module path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\office14\mso.dll
Report Id: 3bf6bbe2-70da-11e6-bd32-b8763fabbff5

Pretty standard for a crash. In our environment, we had changed from Lync 2010 to Skype for Business 2016, and installed Skype for Business through the Office 2016 installer rather than standalone, to make future Office product updates easier (Skype for Business standalone won’t co-exist with an Office 2016 suite install).

For some reason, this upgrade process has broken the mail merge function for Microsoft Word. The quick fix was to do a repair of the Office 2010 suite after the Office 2016 install, and mail merge worked again.

It’s worth noting that a computer that had Office 2010 suite and Office 2016 (Skype for Business only) worked fine, it was only if Lync 2010 was installed first and then removed, then Office 2016 installed.

Excel and Word Macros Broken with Windows Update

A problem popped up recently where an Excel Macro file wasn’t working – there was a button to run the macro, but the button wouldn’t even click. This is despite all the security settings being their lowest – e.g. Enable all macros (not recommended; potentially dangerous code can run).

A friend pointed me in the right direction for this one, and the cuprit was Windows Update KB2553154 which I don’t think has actually been pulled yet (although InfoWorld reports others have). The patch is designed to fix a vulnerability.

There’s a great post on StackOverflow about this, along with a fix from user John W  that I can confirm works:

From other forums, I have learned that it is due to the MS Update and that a good fix is to simply delete the file MSForms.exd from any Temp subfolder in the user’s profile. For instance:

C:\Users\[user.name]\AppData\Local\Temp\Excel8.0\MSForms.exd

C:\Users\[user.name]\AppData\Local\Temp\VBE\MSForms.exd

C:\Users\[user.name]\AppData\Local\Temp\Word8.0\MSForms.exd

Of course the application (Excel, Word…) must be closed in order to delete this file.

I actually just deleted everything in the Temp folder. The user didn’t need to log off or anything, just opened up the Excel Macro template and it instantly worked.

You could use group policy preferences to delete these .exd files if you don’t want to manually remove it, but hopefully you don’t have too many people in your company affected by this. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to hold off on 2553154 as MS may release a hotfix or re-patch the patch.

Updated: Affects Word also.