How to fix "Word could not create the work file" error in Windows?

Issue: Hello. When I try to open Word documents, I get the error “Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable.” How can I fix this?

Solved Answer

The “Word could not create the work file” error is a common issue encountered by users of Microsoft Word on Windows PCs. This issue can be particularly annoying because it prohibits users from previewing, opening, or saving documents and is frequently accompanied by the phrase “Check the temp environment variable.” Corrupted files, disk problems, or issues with environment variables within the Windows operating system are just a few of the potential root causes of this error message.

Users may be significantly impacted by this problem, particularly those who use Microsoft Word frequently for work or school. When they are unable to access their documents or complete necessary duties, it might interfere with productivity and lead to frustration. This issue may cause delays, lost work, and even possible data loss for professionals, students, and anyone else who uses Word to create, edit, and manage documents.

One of the main issues with this error is that it can be very unclear, which makes it difficult for users to pinpoint the underlying reason. Corrupted files, which are a common trigger for this error, can lead to data loss if not addressed promptly. Disk issues, such as a failing hard drive, may result in more extensive problems, potentially affecting other applications and system stability. Additionally, problems with environment variables can cause issues not only with Microsoft Word but with various other applications as well.

While correcting this issue can be challenging and frequently necessitates a specialized troubleshooting procedure, some potential fixes include repairing or reinstalling Microsoft Word, checking for and fixing disk issues, or configuring environment variables to ensure they are set up properly.

In this guide, you will find 9 steps that should help you fix “Word could not create the work file” error in Windows. You can also run a maintenance tool like FortectMac Washing Machine X9 that can fix most system errors, BSODs, corrupted files, and registry issues. Otherwise, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

How to fix Word could not create the work file error in Windows

Solution 1. Fix Corrupted System Files

Use Command Prompt commands to repair system file corruption:

  • Open Command Prompt as administrator
  • Use the following command and press Enter:
    sfc /scannow

Fix Corrupted System Files

  • Reboot your system
  • If SFC returned an error, then use the following command lines, pressing Enter after each:
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

Solution 2. Check Disk

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  • Open Command Prompt as administrator
  • Use the following command and press Enter:

chkdsk c: /r /scan /perf

Check Disk

  • Restart your PC.

Solution 3. Turn off the Preview Pane

If you are only getting the “Word could not create the work file” error while previewing documents in File Explorer, you can turn off the preview pane temporarily.

  • Press the Windows key + E keyboard shortcut to open File Explorer.
  • Click the View menu,
  • Go to Show, and disable the Preview pane option.

Turn off the Preview Pane

Solution 4. Add an Environment Variable

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  • Press the Windows key + I keyboard shortcut to open the Settings app.
  • In the System tab, scroll down to select About.
  • Click on Advanced system settings.

Add an Environment Variable

  • Click the Environment Variables button.
  • Then, under User variables, click the New button.
  • In the Variable name field, enter %userprofile%.
  • In the Variable value field, enter the following command and click OK:

C:\Users[YourUsername]

  • Replace [YourUsername] in the above command with your actual username.
  • Restart your PC.

Solution 5. Create a Temporary Internet Files Folder

  • Press the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run dialog box.
  • Paste the following path in the text box and press Enter:

C:\Users[YourUsername]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache

  • Replace [YourUsername] in the above command with your actual username.
  • In the File Explorer window, press Control + Shift + N keyboard shortcut to create a new folder.
  • Name it Content.Word and press Enter.
  • After creating the above folder, restart your PC.

Create a Temporary Internet Files Folder

Solution 6. Check the Default Location for Temporary Internet Files

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  • Press the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run dialog box.
  • Type inetcpl.cpl in the box and press Enter.
  • In the Internet Properties window, click on Settings.
  • Then, click the Move Folder button.
  • In the Browse for Folder window, navigate to the following folder:

C:\Users[YourUsername]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows

  • Within the Windows folder, select INetCache and click OK.

Check the Default Location for Temporary Internet Files

Solution 7. Check OneDrive Location

  • In Microsoft Word, press F12 to bring up the Save as dialog.
  • Navigate to a different location in the OneDrive directory and click Save.

Check OneDrive Location

Solution 8. Open Word in Safe Mode

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  • Hold down the Control key and double-click on the Word shortcut.
  • Select Yes to confirm.

After Word opens in safe mode, try opening or saving your documents and see if you get any errors. If you don't, it means one of the add-ins you disabled was causing the problem.

  • Open Microsoft Word and click the File menu at the top-left corner.
  • Select Options from the left sidebar.

Open Word in Safe Mode

  • In the Add-ins tab, select COM Add-ins from the Manage drop-down menu and click the Go button next to it.
  • Clear all the checkboxes to disable your add-ins and hit OK.
  • Restart Word and enable your add-ins one by one until the error pops up again.
  • After you find the problematic add-in, consider removing it.

Solution 9. Re-register Word Files

  • Press the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to access the Run dialog.
  • Type winword.exe /r and press Enter.
  • Wait for the command to run, and try using Microsoft Word again.

Re-register Word Files

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About the author
Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate computer expert

Gabriel E. Hall is an expert troubleshooter who has been working in the information technology industry for years.

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