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Windows 7: Can’t use CTRL-F6 in Word when open multiple files f/ Windows Explorer

29 Jan 2012   #11

Windows 10 Pro x64

OK, after awhile I was finally able to reproduce this, but note it did not always reproduce, so it seems like a timing issue. When it worked, I was able to close all documents opened (I had 5 in a folder) without issue, but when it reproduced the issue and I was unable to CTRL+F6, I got a message (on every document but the last I tried to close) that normal.dotm was open in another session, and did I want to save anyway. It would seem that opening each document separately from explorer in your case avoids this, but on your systems you have apparently a timing issue that causes each instance to open too fast, and thus normal.dotm is probably still locked by the winword.exe process. I also noticed during process startup (via procmon) that if the file is locked, it appears Word spawns a new instance of winword.exe, which would explain why CTRL+F6 doesn't work across documents (you can only CTRL+F6 in documents opened within the same winword.exe process).

It's not a bug, it does this to make sure you can open the documents you requested - the issue comes down to the fact that Word does do a file lock request on normal.dotm for template data when you open a Word document, and if you open too many too fast, you will end up with multiple processes (rather than all documents in a single winword.exe process) to avoid document layout or corruption issues. The real "fix" is "user education", aka "don't do that" :).

My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2012   #12

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

Yaayyy! You finally could see what I see! And you go further by grasping some of the mechanics behind the scenes. Thanks for not dropping the issue, and for coming back to it!

Of course, as you’d expect, I don’t want to accept, “don’t do that”. I’ve used lots of different versions of Windows operating systems with their respective Windows Explorers, and they all could “do that” (i.e., open multiple files in Word, Excel, etc. from Windows Explorer). If a more modern Windows can’t “do that”, then it needs to “learn” to “do that”. The real "fix" is "OS education". (I realize I’ve performed somewhat of a context switch. Your “don’t do that” pertained to, don’t try to lock normal.dotm when it’s already locked.)

You offer some clues that could be very helpful (thanks :)). “[E]ach instance... open[s] too fast”. Maybe there is a way to tell Windows Explorer to not be so fast.

This reminds me of an annoyance I used to have with Internet Explorer when, upon starting up, it would bug me by telling me that I might want to disable the add-ons that I purposefully added in there. (Of all the nerve! ) I tracked down the help I needed; I then “told” Internet Explorer to wait longer before asking such a silly question. Viola -- it doesn’t bug me anymore. So, I need to find an equivalent method for Windows Explorer.

You noticed that “it appears Word spawns a new instance of winword.exe”. Yeah, that’s what I was suspecting when, in my first post, I said it’s “as if Windows Explorer is starting multiple copies of Word”. I didn't think to look in the Task Manager; that was a good idea of yours.

I don’t suppose there’s a way to tell Word the following: If you can’t lock normal.dotm, just get a read-only copy (and, don’t even think about spawning a new instance of Word). I only update normal.dotm every once in a while, but I read from it often.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Jan 2012   #13

Windows 10 Pro x64

There's not a way to force it to do that, but it could be a request you make of the product team via email ( may still work, I don't know - otherwise, you would open a support case to have a bug filed). In all reality though, file locking behavior isn't something the Office team can necessarily change, they can only change the way they attempt to open the file itself (that's the behavior you would want changed, I would assume). Unfortunately, it isn't going to be fixed in this version, and if you don't submit soon and get a change approved, it's not likely to make the next version either (unless they change the behavior on their own outside of your request, which is always possible, just not probable). So, if CTRL+F6 is important to you, I submit the fix (at least for now) is a behavioral one, and not a technical one .
My System SpecsSystem Spec

02 Feb 2012   #14

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

Good idea for me to make that request. I think you’re right that the read-only DotM file will probably not be something “they” want to work on.

However, since the ability to have W.Explorer properly open multiple files was something that worked in many previous Windows O/S’s, but Win 7 can’t do it, I consider that a bug, not a design wish.

Thanks so much for exploring this issue with me. Your efforts have been valued!
(I don't know what that pink elephant is supposed to mean, but I've been wanting to use it. So you get the honor.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Can’t use CTRL-F6 in Word when open multiple files f/ Windows Explorer

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