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SharePoint: Won’t open a Word document in Office 365

March 15, 2022

I need to state upfront that I HATE SharePoint (SP) with the passion of a thousand burning suns!

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’m hoping someone reading this can help me find a solution as to why I can’t open a Word document in SP using my installed Office 365 version of Word (NOT Word Online, which I hate almost as much as SP!)

A bit of background…

  • My client sent me a link to a document stored on their SP server. I couldn’t access it and let them know.
  • They added me as a legitimate user, using my standard email address (firstname.lastname@domain.com.au), and I got a welcome message from their SP server, with a link to the area containing the documents I needed to access.
  • I have several Microsoft (MS) accounts as I work for different clients who need me to access their SP servers, AND I’m a member of the Microsoft Partner Network for the Action Pack Subscription. I tried the first two I have and the one that uses my email address (as above) got me in. (NOTE: Microsoft seems to think that everyone only has ONE ID and only works for ONE employer/client—freelancers are really in a bind with the multiple credentials they may have to access anything from MS via the internet)
  • I could see the client’s folders and documents (yay!).
  • I opened the Word document they wanted me to look at but Word Online has limited functionality and I needed to get in deep, so I found the option for opening in the desktop app. I wanted to do that in preference to downloading the document as it would remain in SP, whereas with downloading it, I’d have to either upload it again (and I likely didn’t have permission for that), OR I’d have to email it to my client or put it in Dropbox if it was too big to email and then they had to upload it to replace the original. Clunky.

It’s at the desktop app step that I ran into a big issue that I can’t resolve. What happened? Well, when I said to open in the desktop app, SP ONLY offered the option of opening the doc in Office 2010, which I still have on my PC but which I never use (I held onto it when I went to Office 365, just in case I needed to go back to it). There was no option to open it in Office 365, which is what I use. My only other option was to cancel, which is what I did.

I let my client know, and headed off to Google to see if others have had similar issues. I found all sorts of horror stories about uninstalling Office 2010 well after Office 365 was installed, other info about repairing Office 365, and almost nothing on the interaction between SP and an old version of Office when a new one is installed. I may well have been clutching at straws with my search terms… However, I did find one website that offered a possible reason (#6 in their list): https://windowsreport.com/sharepoint-wont-open-excel-word/

And that possible reason was to do with the account you’re signed in with. I mentioned earlier that my email address (and one of my MS accounts) is firstname.lastname@domain.com.au, but my Office 365 account ID is firstname@domain.com.au. (i.e. no lastname). I then asked my client to add me with that email address, which he did, hoping that would be the answer. But then he got error messages from SP on his end. And the link he sent me didn’t work either (different error messages to those I got initially—something about my address not being valid!). So he’s given up too.

I can still go old school and download the documents to my local machine and email them back.

I also still think it’s related to the account I’m signed in with in Office, but I don’t want to try anything else in case I break it and can’t get back to where I was. Has anyone come across this and solved it? If so, please share your solution in the comments below.

Thanks!

[Link last checked March 2022]

2 comments

  1. Hey, Rhonda! SharePoint really hates when you have more than one Microsoft account and when you don’t work in Word Online. I’ve had numerous problems when working in it for clients. Like you, I have a few log-ins and work in more than one SharePoint.

    The best solution I’ve found is to download the file from SharePoint, lock the file from being edited in SP, and edit the document on my desktop. It does mean uploading it again (I don’t change the file name so that it replaces the older version of the file) and unlocking the file. And I always have to open the uploaded file to ensure the tracked changes are present.

    It’s not the solution you’re looking for, and I hope someone else has a better option. But this is what’s been working for me. HTH!


  2. Thanks Erin! That at least shows that I’m not alone in dealing with multiple MS accounts. I ended up downloading it, doing my edits, then emailing it to my client to check before he uploaded back into SP under the original name. Locking it while I’m working on it sounds like a good idea—I’ll try that next time.

    –Rhonda



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