Microsoft KB Archive/168964

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DECLINED: WD97: File/Open Causes I/O Error or Folders Appear Incorrectly

The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft Word 97 for Windows

IMPORTANT: This article contains information about editing the registry. Before you edit the registry, make sure you understand how to restore it if a problem occurs. For information about how to do this, view the "Restoring the Registry" Help topic in Regedit.exe or the "Restoring a Registry Key" Help topic in Regedt32.exe.


When you click Open on the File menu, one of the following may occur:

  • When the current folder has subfolders, all subfolders except the last may be displayed as question marks or squares. If you double-click any of the subfolders that appear as question marks or squares, the following error message may appear:
  • You may receive the following error message:

NOTE: Word documents may open correctly if you select them from the most recently used (MRU) list on the File menu, or if you double-click the file in Windows Explorer.


These problems are caused by corruption in the Windows registry.


WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

For information about how to edit the registry, view the "Changing Keys and Values" Help topic in Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) or the "Add and Delete Information in the Registry" and "Edit Registry Data" Help topics in Regedt32.exe. Note that you should back up the registry before you edit it. If you are running Windows NT or Windows 2000, you should also update your Emergency Repair Disk (ERD).

To correct this problem, do the following methods as appropriate for your situation.

Method 1: Delete the Word Data Key

To delete the Data key, follow these steps:

  1. Quit all Windows applications.
  2. On the Windows taskbar, click the Start button and click Run.
  3. In the Open box, type regedit, and click OK.
  4. Locate the following key by double-clicking the appropriate folders.
  5. With the Data folder selected (on the left), click Delete on the Edit menu to delete the key.
  6. Click Yes when you are prompted to confirm the deletion.
  7. Quit the registry editor and restart Word normally (without using the /a switch).

When you start Word and click Open on the File menu, if you do not encounter the problems described in the SYMPTOMS section of this article, you have resolved the problem. The problem was a damaged Data key. You may need to change a few settings to restore your favorite options in Word.

For additional information, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

Q181471 WD97: How to Reset User Options and Registry Settings

Method 2: Reset the Open Dialog Box Settings

To reset the Open dialog box, follow these steps:

  1. Quit Word 97 and all other open Windows applications.
  2. On the Windows Start menu, click Run.
  3. In the Open box, type RegEdit, and then click OK.
  4. In the Registry Editor, select the following registry key:
  5. On the Edit menu, click Delete.
  6. On the Registry menu, click Exit.

NOTE: When you quit the Registry Editor, the changes are saved automatically.

  1. Shut down and restart Windows.
  2. After you restart Windows, place your Office 97 or Word 97 CD in the CD-ROM drive.
  3. On the Start menu, click Run.
  4. In the Open box, type the following line, and click OK.
  5. Click Reinstall, and allow Setup to complete. Setup does not copy any files to the system. Running Setup with the /y switch only updates the Windows registry settings.

For additional information, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

Q161631 WD97: How to Reset Word 97 MRU Lists

Additional query words: I/O error question questionmark questionmarks mark marks fileopen ? directories subdirectories subdirectory filename name square dialog

Keywords : kbother kbusage kbdta winword word97
Version : WINDOWS:97
Platform : WINDOWS
Issue type : kbprb
Technology :

Last Reviewed: April 17, 2000
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