Fix: Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable.

The “Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable” error occurs when the user is saving, opening, or previewing a Word document. This indicates that the temp environment variable was either wrongly added or was not present all along.

The main cause of this error message is corrupted or incorrectly located temporary internet files. If this is the case, then MS Word will not be able to process them, and hence your documents won’t get saved or opened.

To solve this issue, firstly, you can easily change the location of the temp internet files to C:\Users\(Your Username)\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache. Replace (Your Username) with the one you have on your PC.

Secondly, users can repair corrupt files by running the SFC and CHKDSK scans.

This also happens when a user installs 64-bit Office and then uninstalls it to install the 32-bit version. Therefore, it’s recommended to keep 64-bit MS Office on 64-bit Windows.

That being said, there are a total of 8 fixes for this problem, and all of them guarantee the complete elimination of this error.

1. Run the SFC and CHKDSK scan

The SFC command will do a thorough scan of your PC and look for any corrupt or faulty files to repair or replace them. This process will be automatic, so the users just have to execute the command.

Similarly, the CHKDSK (Check Disk) command will scan your SSDs and hard drives to prepare them for better performance. It will basically repair the bad sectors on the hard disks that could be the reason for the “Word could not create the work file” error.

Here’s how to run the SFC and CHKDSK scans:

  1. Type CMD in the Windows search bar.
  2. Select Run as Administrator below the command prompt.
  3. Now press Enter after typing:

  1. Wait for the scan to complete.
  2. Afterward, again press Enter after typing:
    chkdsk C: /f



  1. This will scan your C drive. For other disks, just replace the C with their alphabet.
  2. Open the Word file after the scan is complete.

2. Add a New Environment Variable

Environment variables are certain values that are an important aspect to run any program. These variables store data that is used by these programs and decide how a process will work on your operating system. They are also responsible for locating the place where temporary files will be stored.

Therefore, if there’s something wrong with the environment variables, the doc files will neither open nor get saved. In this case, you should add a new environment variable, and here’s how to do that:

  1. Open Run by pressing down the Win + R keys at the same time.
  2. Click OK after typing: sysdm.cpl

  1. Navigate to Advanced > Environment Variables.

  1. Click New in the User Variables section.

  1. Next to the Variable name, type: %userprofile%
  2. Next to Variable value, type: C:\Users\”username” (Replace “username” with your username on the computer)

  1. Click OK to add the new environment variable.
  2. Restart your PC or laptop and try to open or save a Word file now.

3. Create a Temporary Internet Files Folder

The temporary internet files folder is also a cache folder where the temporary work files are stored while you’re using Microsoft Word. If the folder has gone missing by any chance, then it’s evident that Word won’t be able to save the files, and you’ll get the “Word could not create the work file” error.

Here’s how you can create a temporary internet files folder:

  1. Run the command prompt as administrator.
  2. Hit Enter after typing the following commands sequentially:
    cd /d %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache
    MD Content.Word

Note: Here, the Content.Word folder was already present. However, If it wouldn’t have been, this command would have created a new one. 

  1. Restart your PC and access the Word documents now, without any problem.

4. Change the Location of Temporary Internet Files

Setting the correct location for the temporary internet files is necessary; otherwise, Word cannot locate them and will give the work file error.

Fortunately, the steps for this method are pretty straightforward and are as follows:

  1. Open Run with Win + R and type: inetcpl.cpl
  2. Click on OK to open the Internet Properties menu.
  3. Click on Settings under the Browsing history section in the General tab.

  1. Now the dialog box of Website Data Settings will open.
  2. Click on Move folder in the Temporary Internet Files tab.

  1. Navigate to C:\Users\”user name”\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows in the Browse for folder window. Here “username” will be replaced by your username folder.

  1. Expand the Windows folder and click on INetCache to select this location.

  1. Click on OK and exit the settings.
  2. Restart your computer and the error will be gone now.

5. Increase the Disk Space for Temporary Internet Files

Low disk space for temporary internet files is sometimes insufficient, and hence MS Word is unable to create the work files. To overcome this, the users need to simply increase the disk space in the Internet Explorer settings.

Go through the following steps for this method:

  1. Open Run and type: inetcpl.cpl

  1. Click OK.
  2. In the General tab, select the Settings option under the Browsing history portion.


  1. Now increase the Disk space to 1024 MB.

  1. Click OK to save the changes and exit the settings.
  2. Now open, save, or preview the Word documents to see whether the error has disappeared or not.

6. Disable Preview for MS Word

Disabling preview for Microsoft Word requires you to delete a specific registry subkey from the registry editor. This will fix the “Word could not create the work file” issue; however, make sure to back up your registry settings in case something goes wrong. Incorrect registry settings can lead to many problems.

Anyway, here are the steps to disable preview for MS Word:

  1. Open Run and hit Enter after typing: regedit

  1. Press Ctrl + F to open the search console.
  2. Click on Find Next after pasting the following subkey: HKCR\CLSID\{84F66100-FF7C-4fb4-B0C0-02CD7FB668FE}

  1. Wait until the search is complete.
  2. Delete the subkey if it is found and close the Registry Editor.
  3. Finally, restart your computer, and the Word files will open and get saved normally now. You’ll have to compromise on the preview option though.

7. Change the Value Data of MS Word from Registry

If the value data of AppData or Cache has been modified in the registry or wrongly entered, the work file error will take place. Its value should be set right in order for Microsoft Word to function normally. For this method, we’ll again utilize the Registry Editor to make the changes as follows:

  1. Open Run and hit OK after typing: regedit

  1. Click Yes on the next dialog box to open the Registry Editor.
  2. Enter the following address in the address bar: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders
  3. Now look for AppData and double-click on it.
  4. If its value date has been changed, then enter this: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming

  1. Similarly, double-click on Cache and make sure the value data is: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache

  1. Click OK and exit the Registry Editor.
  2. Lastly, restart your PC and check whether the error has been addressed.

8. Re-register the Word Files

Executing this method will re-register the Word files and fix the issues related to them. Once the registration is done, you’ll be able to work with the Word documents without any issues. Secondly, this isn’t a time-consuming process and will only take a minute or two.

  1. Press Win + R to open Run.
  2. In the Open: box, type: winword.exe /r

  1. Wait for the registration to complete and start working on Word conventionally like before.

Abdullah Iqbal

Abdullah is a Google IT certified Help Desk Technician with extensive experience in providing technical support to system users. He has a proven track record of effectively resolving IT issues, and is adept at working with tools like Jira and ZenDesk to efficiently manage support tickets. Abdullah is committed to staying up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and constantly seeks to improve his skills and knowledge through professional development opportunities.
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Fix: Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable.

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