Simple task - a job application requires the abstract of my PhD dissertation.  So I find the file, double click, and … ERROR.


(Yes, I hear you cry!  I knew where the files were!)

You see, about 5 years ago I spent a couple days pulling stuff off boxes of floppies before the data puddled into magnetic goo.  Surrounded by mostly 3 1/2’s and many 5 1/4’s (and several disk backup tapes), I found my dissertation and with mixed memories (yes, the terror does fade with time), I tried to open the files.

Back then, Microsoft presented me with a different, although more frightening message when I attempted to open the files.  Something about not being able to read the old Word file format at all (Yikes!).

Had the ghost returned?

How old are those files?

Jumping into the WayBack machine, my dissertation and thesis files were originally saved in Word 1.0.  In 1993.

With some significant effort 5 years ago, I was able to grab the raw text, reformat it, reinsert all the figures (grrr) and then save it in Word 2000.  And then from there (I think) to Word 2002/XP.  After that mess, I happily backed up the files and moved along thinking All was Well.

Errors for stuff that shouldn’t apply to me

But now, the Registry Police have me pulled over, cooling my heels as I prepare an application package (yes, package) that includes not only my dissertation abstract, but my master’s thesis abstract as well.

So off to Google and I’m corralled to:

922849 You receive an error message when you try to open a file type that was blocked by your registry policy settings in Word 2007 or in Word 2003.

Now, I have Word 2003, which is the first version in which an administrator can block the ability to open or save files created in versions before Word 2003.  However, I’m the administrator of this computer, and I didn’t specifically initiate the download of security update 934181 which allows this. In fact, it’s not on my computer and not listed as required or missing.

Okay, fine.  So to fix this, I’m encouraged to create and muck with several registry settings amid many dire warnings of possible impending doom, and recommendations about downloading Office System Administrative Templates to add file restrictions, contacting the administrator (ahem), etc.

Sigh - I don’t usually muck with the registry, and don’t particularly want to. And Microsoft knows what misfortune awaits even those who pause at the Door of Registry, as it insists - FIRST, you must backup the registry!

Yeah, I’m cool with that.

So Microsoft sends me to:

322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

This page shows me pretty straightforward instructions but admonishes me that I must have Service Pack 3 installed first.


I have Service Pack 2.  And for reasons I don’t recall, I either can’t, shouldn’t, or decided not to upgrade.


But come on, there has to be a way to save the registry correctly without all this, right?  I know I’ve done it before.  So, I ignore the SP3 thing and save a restore point anyway by running %SystemRoot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe.

So it’s saved.  Not sure if it could recover from it.  But live dangerously, right?

So I wander back to 922849 and am directed now to visit:

938810 Information about certain file types that are blocked after you install Office 2003 Service Pack 3.

Ahhhh, but AGAIN!  I never INSTALLED SP3, remember?

Stubbornness pays off?

But I continue on my dangerous path of willful insolence, and for the first time in any of the Microsoft bulletins I’ve seen, I find “a downloadable update to automatically re-enable all file types.”

** jaw drops in wonder **

To re-enable Word file types only, save the following file to a folder on the computer:

I saved it, double-clicked to run it, confirmed I really wanted to, and viola!  Now I can open my (really not that old) Word files!

For once, I have to give Microsoft credit for just automating the process of changing/adding certain registry keys, rather than asking the user to do it manually.

(Now it’s now again time for me to open each file and re-save it in the latest-greatest version of Word - which happens to be Word 2003 on my machine - and wait for the next time I’m denied access to my own stuff to do this all over again.)

Lather, rinse, repeat.

And in the end

PS - And magically, it fixes another minor annoyance I’ve noticed over the last year or so - if I click on a hyperlink in a Word document, I get an error that the administrator has blocked this action.  But alas no more!

Two bugs smashed for the price of one!

And (yes I’m really saying this) props to Microsoft.  For supplying a pretty easy fix, even if it’s for a roadblock of their own making.