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Word: Can’t open a template in Office 365

February 15, 2019

I installed Office 365 on a test Windows 10 machine and wanted to change the language setting in the normal.dotm template from US English to Australian English (this determines which autocorrect [*.ACL] file is used for any documents based on that template).

But when I right-clicked on normal.dotm and selected Open, I got a message telling me that a default app hadn’t been associated with this file type and to do so in the Default Apps settings. When I went to those settings, I found that Word was already associated with *.dotm files, and there wasn’t anything more I could do about that. I also noticed that some usual document file types weren’t associated with Word and I couldn’t associate them either, no matter what I did in the Default Apps settings.

I thought something might have got scrambled when I installed Office 365 and then (on the advice of my IT guys) uninstalled Office 2016, which was already on that PC. So I contacted my IT guys, and they told me to run a quick repair of the Office installation to see if that fixed it. It did! Once the repair had been run, I could open normal.dotm and all my other Word templates without a problem.

Just a quick note about repairing Office 365—you don’t get a Repair option in the list of programs, despite the user interface text telling you so. Instead, you have to click on Change, say Yes to allow the app to make changes (if asked), then choose Quick Repair from the list. It only takes a few minutes. Once the repair was done, my IT guys told me to reboot the PC, which I did, then I tested the repair by successfully opening normal.dotm.

Windows 10 steps for repairing Office 365:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Select Programs and Features.
  3. Select Microsoft Office 365.
  4. Click Change at the top of the list of programs.
  5. If asked, say Yes to allow the app to change the program.
  6. Select the Quick Repair option.
  7. Click Repair.
  8. When finished, restart your machine and test that what you were trying to fix has been fixed.

Update May 2019: This happened after a Windows 10 and/or Office 2016 update on my laptop too. Running the repair fixed it. But it should never have broken in the first place!

[Links last checked February 2019]

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