How to Quickly Reset Microsoft Word Back to Default Settings

Many of us use Microsoft Word every day. But sometimes, you may run into trouble as you work in Microsoft Word. This is where it pays to know how to get Microsoft Word back to default settings. 

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Learn how to get Microsoft Word back to default settings for a fresh start in the app. (Background graphic source: Envato Elements.)

When you learn how to reset Word to default settings, you can work with a clean slate. Your copy of Word will perform just like it did when you first installed it. Any changes you made later will be rolled back. Let’s learn how to reset Microsoft Office Word to default settings in this tutorial.

When to Reset Microsoft Word Back to Default Settings

Microsoft Word is a popular and versatile word processing tool used to create documents quickly. Word is part of the Microsoft Office suite of apps, which also includes Excel, PowerPoint, and more. 

You may have changed settings or used add-ons that negatively impact your daily work. And from time to time, merely reversing your changes doesn’t go far enough.

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Sometimes, it’s useful to reset Word to default settings to troubleshoot and solve problems. (Image source: Placeit.)

Let’s imagine times when you’ll need to know how to reset Microsoft Office Word to default settings:

  • You’ve installed Add-ins that aren’t working well. These are tools that expand Word’s features. But some may cause unwanted problems as you work. 
  • Files become corrupted. If you’re having serious issues with your computer, your Word install may become unstable or even unusable. 
  • You don’t remember what settings you’ve changed. If you’ve forgotten the custom settings that you’ve applied, a reset can help. 
  • Certain features don’t work. If options vanish or are grayed out, a reset to default settings may be your only fix. 

As you can see, it can often be useful to know how to reset Microsoft Word. It helps you get your work and productivity back on track.

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Download the beautiful Resume Word template to use in our tutorial.

While we work, you’ll see a premium template in use. We’ll be working inside the Resume Word template. Download it today to follow along.

Now, let’s get started learning how to get Microsoft Word back to default settings. 

What Does (And Doesn’t) Get Reset in Microsoft Word When You Revert to Default

Before you learn how to reset Word to default settings, it pays to know exactly what you’re doing. You need to know what will be reset and changed, and what won’t. This helps you decide if resetting Word to default settings is truly the right move for you.

When you go back to default settings, Word will reset:

  • custom font design settings
  • user-applied defaults
  • interactions from add-ins

But you won’t see changes to the following:

  • Word’s own defaults, which work as the baseline that Word will reset to.
  • basic layouts
  • built-in designs that install automatically with Word

In essence, resetting Word returns the app to its “normal” layout. It reverts your install back to the basics, without having to actually reinstall Word.

Keep in mind, resetting Word to default settings isn’t always your best option. It’s a good idea to try and reverse changes that you know you’ve made to see if your problem is resolved. 

Often, a few clicks can roll back unwanted changes and get you back on track. But sometimes, you’ve got no other choice. Now, we’ll learn how to reset Word to default settings on both macOS and Windows. 

How to Reset to Default in Word for macOS

The steps in this section were written using macOS Monterey and Microsoft Word via Office 365. If you’ve got a different a version of the operating system or a different version of Word, your steps may be slightly different.

When you think of how to reset Microsoft Word, it’s vital to understand that Word doesn’t have a “reset button.” There’s currently not an option to reset Word to default settings with a single click. 

To get started, we’ll learn how to get Microsoft Word back to default settings using macOS. Imagine that you’ve got Word installed on macOS, and you want to revert to default settings. The first step you need to take is to close out Microsoft Word, along with all other Office apps. 

That means that if you’ve got Excel running in the background, you need to close it out too. The same goes for PowerPoint slides, and even your emails in Outlook. For good measure, it’s a smart idea to Force Quit the apps to ensure they’re fully shut down.

Then, you’ll need to open Finder, which is the file browser on macOS. On the menu bar at the very top of your screen, hold Option on your keyboard, then choose Go, and then click on Library. Here, you’ll see a lengthy list of files and folders that power your Mac. 

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By deleting Word files from your Library folder, you’ll return Word to default settings on macOS.

Scroll down, until you find the Group Containers folder. Open it up, and find the folder titled UBF8T346G9.Office. Inside it, go to User Content, then Templates. Find the file labeled Normal.dotm. Click and drag the file into your Desktop folder.

Next, return to the Library folder. This time, open the Preferences subfolder. Inside, click and select the two files labeled:

  • com.microsoft.Office.plist
  • com.microsoft.Word.plist
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Moving the com.microsoft.Office.plist file to your desktop is how to reset Word to default settings on Mac.

Repeat the earlier step of dragging them into your Desktop folder.

Now, all you need to do is reopen Word. The files are replaced automatically, resetting you to Word’s default settings.

How to Reset to Default in Word for Windows

The steps in this section were written using Windows 11 and Microsoft Word via Office 365. If you’ve got a different version of the operating system or a different version of Word, your steps may be slightly different.

You’ve just learned how to reset Word to default settings using macOS. Now, we’ll learn how to do the same when you’ve got Word installed on Microsoft Windows.

On Windows, Word stores user settings in a similar fashion to macOS. Specifically, many of them sit in a file called Normal.dot. This may sound familiar from our macOS example. By deleting the Normal.dot file, you can revert Word to default by reverting changes that you may have made. 

Once again, you’ll need to close out Word and all other Microsoft Office apps that you’ve got open. This step ensures that the reset will work correctly. It also helps you guard against unwanted changes and potential further damage. 

These settings live in the hidden AppData folder. The easiest way to find it is to click the Windows icon and type in %appdata%. You’ll see a pop-up for the AppData folder. Press Enter on your keyboard to open it.

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On the Windows menu, type in %appdata% and press Enter to find the hidden AppData folder.

With this complete, it’s time to find the Normal.dot file. In the AppData folder, find Roaming/Microsoft/Templates inside. In this folder, you’ll see Normal.dot listed. Select it, and press Delete on your keyboard.

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On Windows, you’ll need to delete the Normal.dot file that controls MS Word user settings.

If you don’t see this file listed, make sure Hidden Items is ticked on the View menu

As you do on Mac, now you can re-launch Microsoft Word. The deleted file will be rebuilt, and factory default settings will be restored. Just like that, you’ve learned how to reset Microsoft Office Word to default settings on Windows. 

5 Tips for Custom Settings in Word

Now that you know how to reset Microsoft Word, what’s next? What else should you do to get back on track? Once you’ve done a reset, it’s time to get your copy of Word working the way you need.

Again, you’ve got a clean slate. You can apply custom settings to work more efficiently. Let’s look at five great ways to make Word work great for you.

The tips in this section were written using macOS and Office 365. If you’ve got a different operating system or a different version of Word, your steps may be slightly different.

1. Default Spacing

Text spacing really controls the look and feel of your Word document. And chances are, you may find yourself using the same settings over and over. It’s a good idea to set defaults. This means that Word automatically uses the settings you prefer most often.

Of course, you can still manually change them. But you’ll find your favorite presets ready to use each time you open a new document.

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Using the Format > Font menu, you can control default spacing in Word.

To set default spacing, find the Format > Font menu. Spacing options sit on the Advanced tab, and you can edit them here. At the bottom, you’ll see the Default button.

When you’ve applied your favorite spacing settings, click Default. Now, Word will use these settings each time you launch a new document. 

2. Grammar and Spelling Checks

By default, you can have Word check your grammar and spelling. These are great options to leave on automatically. They save you from embarrassing mistakes with no time or effort needed on your part. 

To ensure Word runs these important checks, click on the Word dropdown menu in the upper left of your screen. Then, go to Preferences > Spelling & Grammar. Ensure that Always Suggest Corrections and Check Spelling As You Type are both checked. This lets Word check your grammar each time you start typing.

3. Custom Margins

Margins control how text is positioned on a page, relative to the sides of each page. By default, Word uses 1-inch margins. But you can set your own default.

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Set custom margins to default to in Word using the Format > Document menu.

To do so, go to Format > Document. A menu appears. You can click on the Margins tab. In the boxes, you can specify custom margins for your Word documents. To use them on every new file, click Default at the bottom of the menu. 

4. Set Default Fonts

In Word, you can also set default fonts. This means you can use the same font style and size each time you work with a new document. 

To do that, go back to the Format > Font menu. On the Font tab, specify your font preferences. Then, click Default.

5. Edit the Startup Layout

Layouts in Word control the document orientation, footers, headers, columns, and more. To apply a default startup layout to each document, return to the Format > Document menu.

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On the Layout menu, you can apply custom layouts for MS Word to default to each time you open a new document.

This time, choose Layout. Set the specific settings that you want to use each time you launch MS Word. Choose Default to set them as your standard layout.

The Best Microsoft Word Document Templates for 2022 Projects (With Unlimited Use)

When you work in Microsoft Word, premium templates are your best friend. They help you make a winning impression every time.

The best source for premium MS Word templates is Envato Elements. For a flat monthly rate, you get access to thousands of stunning premium designs. You can download and use as many of them as you want.

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Envato Elements: millions of templates, one flat monthly rate.

Plus, Envato Elements offers countless other digital assets for your use. As a member, you’ll enjoy stock photos, music, fonts, and more. All of these are included in the Elements unlimited-downloads offer.

When you use premium MS Word templates from Elements, you’ll enjoy:

  • Ease of use. With fill-in-the-blank template designs, you’ll save time getting documents written.
  • Professional styling. Each template is built by a creative expert, and you’ll benefit from their design prowess.
  • Inspiring designs. With pre-built layouts, you’ll find design inspiration on every page.

What are you waiting for? Check out the vast Envato Elements library and join today! Then, download your favorite templates and start building stylish Word docs in moments. 

You Learned How to Reset Microsoft Office Word to Default Settings

Microsoft Word acting up? It’s time that you use your knowledge of how to get Microsoft Word back to default settings.

Bookmark this page for those times when your app doesn’t feel quite like new. Whether you’re on macOS or Windows, use these tips of how to get Microsoft Word back to default settings for a quick reset.

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