Word: Very slow to load and respond. Solved.

April 21, 2011

Word 2007 — and now Word 2010 — on my Vista laptop has often been very slow to load a document and to respond to a document command (like Save). I’ve been blaming Vista…

But when I started to edit a 300+ page Word 2010 document on my Vista laptop, the unresponsiveness was going to be a huge productivity drain. So off to Google to see if there was an answer to this problem. And there is! And it’s not related to Vista at all, but to how a Word document interacts with the default printer. If the default printer is a networked printer, then there can be response issues.

In my case, the default printer is not only a networked printer, but when I opened this 300+ page document, the printer was turned off (it was a Sunday and I don’t use the printer all the time, especially on weekends).

After following the advice of people in this forum thread, I changed my default printer on the Vista laptop to Adobe PDF (Microsoft EPS works well too, I believe). And guess what? The document responded beautifully! No more achingly long Not responding messages in the Word 2010 title bar; no more watching the ‘spinning wheel of death’ (as I like to call it) while waiting and waiting for the Word document to respond because it was trying to talk to my network printer.


But I have to question WHY Microsoft still ties things like Word documents so closely to the default printer. Most of us have many ‘printers’ listed these days — many of which aren’t even printers, but instead are printer drivers. If a network printer is set as the default and it can’t find it, then why don’t we get a message to tell us to change to another printer driver so we can work in a fully responsive document?

[Link last checked April 2011]


  1. Exactly the same happened to me. Win 7, Word 2010, networked printer. Changed to CutePDF as the defualt and Bam! up it came.

    many thanks

  2. This didn’t work for me at all

  3. Ultimate thanks, you saved my day.

  4. Sort of helped – still lagging though.

  5. Worked like a charm. For me the big problem occurred when selecting the TOC. Word would just start spinning its wheels for an annoying eternity [30 seconds]. Another Microsoft Mystery solved!

  6. Worked like a magic wand which I was searching for quite some time !!. Thanks a lot

  7. Well when I would click on MS Word 7, it would take almost 2 minutes to open! So I changed my networked default printer to the Microsoft XPS Writer and man my word opens like in 2 seconds flat! I dont understand what the printer has to do with opening a program??? Thanks for the tip.

  8. Thanks for the tips. My default printer was my home printer, but I’m at work and don’t have access to it. I set my default printer to Microsoft XPS Writer and – blammo – updating my table of contents in Word now takes < 1 second. Sweet!

  9. work for me . thank you for your support

  10. Fantastic… I was trying to shrink, text wrap and move lots of photos within a document… it was taking an age. This solution worked like a dream! I set my printer to Microsoft XPS and everything works as it should with no delays at all. Many thanks!

  11. “Word would just start spinning its wheels for an annoying eternity [30 seconds]”

    The damned will be happy to learn that their eternity of torment and punishment is only going to last 30 seconds!

  12. Thank you. This worked for me. Microsoft needs to do something to rectify this issue as Word was unusable otherwise.

  13. Not just network printers. I have a Canon MX880 printer (fax, copy, scan, etc) and noticed this happening every so often. Changed the default printer to PDF and the (I like the description) spinning wheel of death went away and typing became immediately responsive, I changed back to the printer and the wheel popped up again, went back to PDF and it was all good again. But this doesn’t seem to affect Excel and it doesn’t happen all the time. Very odd. Thanks for the hint.

  14. Thank you so much. This worked. Neither of the computer shops in town could fix word being slow for me, but with your help, I have fixed it. I am so happy!

  15. wow! are you superman? you just saved my day. thanks sir!

  16. Thanks a lot for your tip. It was a great help. Much appreciated.

  17. What if this does not work. Do you have any other solutions?

  18. Does not work for me gang. Any other solutions.

  19. Same issue. Mine was defaulted to OneNote but switched the default. Fixed my Word 2013 hanging issues. Saved my day..

  20. I am so happy I stumbled upon this newsletter! I have been googling for weeks trying to find a fix to my slow Word… I am working on a 350+ page document and it takes forever to save or do a text wrap around one of the many photos. This works! I set my home printer default to Microsoft XPS and wow! Don’t have a network printer. Thank you SO MUCH!

  21. Thank you, thank you. I have had this trouble with word 2013 and it was killing me. I have a labtop and at home my printer is connected to a another computer. I connect to this printer over home network and it is my default printer since I don’t have another. I didn’t imagine this was a problem. Why does word have to connect with a default printer every time it opens a document. I cahnged default to Microsoft XPS and problem solved. Unbelievable.

  22. Thanks a million! Was going crazy with the sluggishness, and I have to use track changes in Word for my job as copy editor for publishing companies. I changed to doPDF, and now no problems! Thanks again!

  23. This has been driving me crazy. I checked on permissions which is the usual thing that stuffs everything up. Then I chanced upon your solution which works even now in 2015. Some things about Microsoft Word never change – the bits that stuff up. Thank you.

  24. thank you very much

  25. […] Change default printer: Word: Very slow to load and respond. Solved. | CyberText Newsletter. […]

  26. It seems to work. If it does, you have solved one of my worst office nightmares.

  27. Thank you! ;) It kinda helped! I think you should also mention that we should restart the whole document.. If we were currently doing something.. ;D Thanks again!

  28. Fantastic Solution! Thank you! Fixed the issue for me 100%

  29. I have Win 7, and I changed my default printer to MS XPS Document Writer,, a non-network device. (I don’t have a Adobe device or printer. BUT, I still have the same problem. Any suggestions? E. Lee

  30. Hi Ernest

    Have you got other printers/printer drivers you can try? (they’ll be listed under Devices and Printers — perhaps try the Fax one, or OneNote, if you have Microsoft Office installed)

    Of course, if another one also doesn’t work, your slowness may not be related to the printer at all — very large and complex documents can respond slowly, especially if you’re opening them over a network and not from your local machine. And having auto saves on for the default ‘every 10 mins’ can cause issues too, so try increasing the auto save time to 30 mins.


  31. Holy Cow! This worked. I had a document that had several sections and it would take me 5 minutes to scroll to the end (only 60 pages). I changed from the network printer to PDF and I can fly through the document now. Thanks!

  32. mine was also very slow to respond .. I changed my networked default printer to the Microsoft XPS Writer … Thanks a lot .. it is absolutely fine now ..

  33. In 2017, this still works (Word 2010, Windows 10). Wow, that is pretty bad.

  34. I didn’t think this would still work in 2017, but it did!

  35. incredible… microsoft word should be ashamed of itself… unbelievable that this causes so much problems

  36. This is simply brilliant !!! Solved my problem in seconds. Many thanks to the author.

  37. Yes! This solved a problem where machines on a slow link was unable to use the Office programs because of totally taxed down by their default printer. Documents with just a few pages they were able to use, but it was painfully slow. In my case it was KONICA MINOLTA Universal PCL drivers and printers. Affected more than Office 2010, also 2013 and 2016 was suffering.

    Great find indeed.

    The core of the problem here maybe that every time the printer is activated from the client it tries some kind of auto config, asking the printer of it capabilities, this takes a couple of seconds. If the Office programs is triggering this repeatedly and then waits for answer, that could be the answer why everything comes to a grinding halt.

    I’ve just disabled the Auto config option on the printers, centrally on the server (which I presume the client picks up and honors), and it solved the problem. Now client can have these printers as default and still use the Office programs. Success and solved!


  38. Worked me me to, many thanks. Super slow Word was a major problem, now fixed.

  39. Thank you very much.

  40. This did not work for me, but I found that reverting to the older *.DOC format instead of using *.DOCX format makes things considerably better.

  41. PS: If the document has a ToC things are worse than with no ToC….

  42. How does Word still have this exact same issue in 2019? Exact solution remains valid and entire 8+ years later!

  43. Yeah, I follow the contributor who changed his docs. from .doc.x to .doc. Worked for me too.
    Thanks for the heads up.

  44. I have been plagued by this kind of problem on one of my computers for nearly a year.

    Although I haven’t found a solution (I suspect registry corruption, or perhaps some left-behind 32-bit dlls that are still active after upgrading to Office 2010 from Office 2007), one thing I have discovered may be helpful to others here.

    I have been doing detailed comparisons between two nearly identical Lenovo E560s (of which one is the problem machine), and a totally different desktop machine. All three have Win10 and Office 2010, fully updated.

    Using the same test.docx file with text and several problematic photos, only Lenovo #1 has the painful scrolling and photo resizing problems. On the other machines, scrolling is fast and smooth, as is photo resizing.

    On the good machines, I just noted that there is NO default printer set. So, if Word is polling the printer driver with every scroll or keystroke, how is it operating when no default printer is selected?

    On the bad machine, setting the XPS printer as default didn’t help, nor did turning off Windows default printer service (and rebooting). If you want to disable having a printer default, here is how, with RegEdit:

    Hkey Local Machine\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Windows — Set (or create as a DWord) LegacyDefaultPrinterMode to 0. A value of 1 will enable the service.

    From what I have read in this and other forums, I think there are several differing causes to these kinds of problems folks are experiencing. In my case, I think I will have to reinstall Win10 (after having done continuous upgrades since WinXP and Office-whatever). I think my registry has accumulated errors, and may be accessing outdated DLLs. (Not looking forward to OS install from scratch; will take days to my setup back to snuff.)

  45. Are you working in “Print Layout”? If so, then it is necessarily tied to the printer because of the margins. Does it improve if you go to Draft view?

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