Why does the hour glass keep flashing when I run Word?

Posted on 2006-10-26
Last Modified: 2010-07-27
I have been using Office 97.  An annoying problem recently came up whenever I run Word.  The hour glass keeps appearing over and over.  This does not happen when I run Excel.
I just finished upgrading to Office 2003 thinking it was time to upgrade anyway.  The hour glass problem still persists.  I have McAfee virus software which I continuously keep updated, and nothing ever comes up.  What is my problem?
Question by:eastert
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Expert Comment

ID: 17818769
What are your save settings (Tools > Options > Save Tab)?
LVL 66

Expert Comment

ID: 17822670
I would check this program out, when you are having the problem...

Process Explorer.

Also, from thier site, is Filemon and Regmon. You can see if there are mising files the install is looking for, and also missing reg entries...Just search thier site for them....

Author Comment

ID: 17824209
I checked the save settings and the following items are checked:  Allow background saves, embed linguistic data, Save autorecovery info every 10 min, embed smart tags.
I unchecked each box to see if it would make a difference.  It did not.  The hour glass flashes on roughly every couple of seconds or if I type anything.

I tried Process Explorer, but I can't make sense out of anything.  I get a list of processes, but I don't understand what I am looking at.

Author Comment

ID: 17824268
I experimented a little more.  It turns out that there is a pattern.  The hour glass comes on every 10 seconds and flashes twice.  I watched Process Explorer to see if I could find a correlation (I could not).  What I did notice is that my CPU usage fluctuates alot in the 92-100% range.  It seems to me that I may be running way to many processes - many I am sure that are "uninvited".  Is this making any sense?
LVL 80

Expert Comment

ID: 17824452
Hi eastert,
If you start Word in Safe mode, does the problem still occur? This will determine whether the problem is an addin (they are disabled), or other start-up problem. If the problem continues in Safe mode, then I suspect some application outside of Word is trying to run.

To start in Safe mode:
1) Open the Start...Run command line
2) Click the Browse button, then find your Word application. In my computer, it is in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\WINWORD.EXE
3) Click the "Open" button. This will put the complete path for Word in your Start...Run command line, surrounded by double quotes. Add a single space and /a after this. The result should resemble:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\WINWORD.EXE" /a
4) Click the Run button

If the problem goes away in Safe mode, then proceed with the following steps:

While Word is not running, try finding and renaming your template to normal.old. Renaming it causes Word to create a new one to factory specifications the next time it launches. Location varies, but on my computer it is in C:\Documents and Settings\my Windows log-in name\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates   Please use the Search tool in Windows Explorer to find your file(s)--and note that you may have more than one. You may need to turn on viewing of system files in order to find your To do so, open Windows Explorer, and go to Tools...Folder Options...View, and choose "Show hidden files and folders". I suggested renaming the file rather than deleting it outright just in case you have some macros (or other useful customizations) stored there and renaming the file didn't fix your original problem.

Try resetting Word's registry settings to factory specifications. You can do this with the RegServer switch. Open the Start...Run command line, then click the "Browse" button. Locate your copy of WINWORD.EXE (mine is in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\WINWORD.EXE). Select the WINWORD.EXE file, then click the "Open" button. This puts the path in the Start...Run command line, surrounded by double quotes. Use your scroll arrow to move to the right of that command, add a single space and then /RegServer. The finished command may look like this:
"C:\Program Filesa\Microsoft Office\Office\WINWORD.EXE" /RegServer

With Word closed, use Windows Explorer to find the Word Startup folder, usually something like C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\Startup. Make sure there are no files in there that you did not intentionally put in there yourself. If this solves the problem, put the files back in one at a time until you have identified the culprits.

Two other sources of problems are corrupted video and printer drivers. As unlikely as it seems, both of these drivers affect what you see on the screen and printed page. It is best to download new copies from the manufacturer's web site, because the locally cached copy may be corrupted.

For an excellent summary of Word start-up troubleshooting tips, see

And all about

Hoping to be helpful,

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Author Comment

ID: 17828690
The problem persists in safe mode.  I tried uninstalling Office and reinstalling it.  I still have the problem.  Does anyone have any other ideas?

LVL 66

Expert Comment

ID: 17829597
In process explorer, you should be looking for a service in the main page that eats CPU.  when you dint it, double click it and try to isolate the exact .dll or .exe by looking at the threads, and then we need to identify the owner of that offending file.

Can you take some screenshots, , and upoad them to ? It is a fre portion of this site to upload fuiles to assist the helper experts...

Expert Comment

ID: 17833816
   Is there any macro in your file?
LVL 20

Expert Comment

ID: 17836219
Its this office 2003 with no SP????if so i would recomend that you update to SP2 there were several bugs fixed on SP2 that fix memory leaks on word excel and outlook....

Expert Comment

ID: 17916626
Hi eastert

The hourglass is probably caused by some background processes eating up memory usage... as you mentioned, "CPU usage fluctuates alot in the 92-100% range".

I suspect it's caused by malware running in the background. These malware may not necessarily be picked up by antivirus software. Can you do a scan on your system with spyware removal tools? You can d/l a couple from these links:

Spybot Search & Destroy:
Ad-Aware SE Personal Ed:

You should also do a full system scan with McAfee. The scans should hopefully remove any "uninvited guests" from your system and free up your memory, which means your hourglass should stop appearing so often - it'll still do when you're saving and such, can't do much abt that ;)

All the best!
LVL 20

Accepted Solution

jimmymcp02 earned 250 total points
ID: 17916826
Did you try installing SP2?

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