The “The server couldn’t complete this action” error in Microsoft Word typically occurs when a user attempts to access a file or perform an action that requires communication with a server or network, but the server or network is unavailable or unresponsive.
There are several possible causes of the error in Microsoft Word, including network connectivity issues, firewall or antivirus software, corrupted user profile or Office installation, or conflicting files. In this troubleshooting guide, we will provide solutions to help you resolve the “The server couldn’t complete this action” error in Microsoft Word.
1. Restart Microsoft Word
The first thing that we recommend doing is restarting Microsoft Word. This is will clear any temporary issues or errors that may have occurred during its current session. When Word is restarted, it creates a new session and loads all the required components and settings, which can help resolve any issues that were present in the previous session.
Here is how you can restart Microsoft Word in Windows:
- Close all Word documents and windows.
- Choose the File option in the ribbon menu.
- Choose Exit or Close to exit Word completely. Wait a few seconds, then open Word again.
You can now check if the error has been resolved successfully. If this persists, move to the next method below.
2. Check your network connectivity
As we mentioned earlier, when a user attempts to access a file or perform an action that requires communication with a server or network, but the server or network is unavailable or unresponsive, Word may be unable to complete the action and display the error message.
In this case, ensure that the network connection is active and stable and that the server is online and reachable. You can also try restarting the router or modem to resolve network issues and restore connectivity. If this scenario is applicable, clearing the DNS cache can help resolve DNS issues and improve connectivity.
3. Close potentially conflicting documents
The error can also occur when two or more Word documents are trying to access the same server or network resource simultaneously, causing a conflict or collision. In such cases, Word may be unable to complete the requested action and display the error message.
If this scenario is applicable, you can close the conflicting documents to fix the problem:
- Save all Word documents and close them.
- Reopen the document that was generating the error message and perform the same action that initially triggered the issue.
If the error message was caused by a conflict between two or more Word documents, closing the conflicting documents should resolve the issue.
4. Modify the OneDrive location
Another possible cause of this error is an incorrect location of the documents in OneDrive. If the targeted files are stored in an unrecognized or incorrectly labeled folder, Word may not be able to access them properly, resulting in an error message.
If this scenario is applicable, you can resolve the problem by ensuring that your targeted file is stored in the correct folder.
Here is how you can check if the location is accurate and modify it if it is not:
- Head over to the File Explorer and look for any OneDrive folders that aren’t recognized or labeled differently from others and look for the affected documents in OneDrive.
- If you notice any unrecognized, new folders, check if the targeted file is located in them and move it to the correct folder labeled Documents in OneDrive.
- Once the files have been safely moved, delete the unrecognized folder and try performing the action that initially triggered the error. Hopefully, you will no longer face the error once this is done.
5. Repair Office
Another fix you can try is repairing the Office, which will work by fixing any corrupted or missing files or settings that may be causing the error. When you repair the Office software, it will scan the installation for errors or issues and attempt to fix them automatically.
During the repair process, Word will be closed and all Office programs will be stopped. The repair process will then attempt to repair any damaged or missing files, settings, or components of the Office software that may be causing issues with Word. Once the repair process is complete, users can reopen Word and check if the error message has been resolved.
Here is how you can repair the Office installation to fix the issue at hand:
- Close all Office applications.
- Press the Win + R keys together to open a Run dialog.
- Type control in the text field of Run and click Enter.
- In the following window, click on Programs and Features.
- You should now see all the programs installed on you computer. Find Microsoft Office in the list of installed programs and right-click on it.
- Choose Change from the context menu.
- In the Microsoft Office Setup wizard, select either Repair and click Next.
- Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the repair process and once the repair is finished, restart your computer.