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Q160068: WD97: Optimizing Microsoft Word 97

Article: Q160068
Product(s): Word 97 for Windows
Operating System(s): 
Keyword(s): word97kbfaq
Last Modified: 20-FEB-2002

The information in this article applies to:

- Microsoft Word 97 for Windows 


The following issues affect overall Word performance.

If you are unfamiliar with a term used in this article, see the glossary at the
end of this article.


System Requirements for Word 97

To use Microsoft Word 97, you need the following:

- Personal or Multimedia computer with a 486 or higher processor.

- Microsoft Windows 95 operating system or Windows NT Workstation 3.51 with
  Service Pack 5 or later (will not run on earlier versions). To use Microsoft
  Word 97 with Windows NT Workstation 4.0, you must install Service Pack 2
  (SP2) or later.

- 8 megabytes (MB) of RAM for use on Windows; 16 MB of memory for use on
  Windows NT Workstation.

- 20-60 MB of hard disk space required; 46 MB required for typical
  installation, depending on configuration (use the Office Upgrade Wizard
  during Setup to maximize free disk space).

- 8 MB of additional memory required to run WordMail.

NOTE: See the product literature or the Ofread8.txt and Wdread8.txt files for a
complete list of requirements. Both files are included on your CD in the Office

Increase RAM

The amount of memory Word 97 needs to run at top speed depends on a variety of
factors, such as how many other applications are running at the same time and
what types of operations Word performs. When other applications are competing
for memory, you can usually improve performance significantly by running with
more than the required amount.

Word requires 8 MB of memory for use on Windows 95 (8 MB of additional memory
required to run WordMail). However, for best performance on Windows 95, if you
plan to run additional applications simultaneously, additional memory may be

If you regularly work with large documents (50 pages and larger) or use many
graphics or embedded objects in your documents, adding RAM will yield the most
dramatic improvement to Word's operating speed. If your computer has 16 MB or
more of RAM, Word will run faster, and you will also be able to run another
large application (such as Microsoft Excel) at the same time and interact with
it from Word.

TIP: Make sure that you aren't using any of your RAM for a RAM drive.

Use Disk Defragmenter to Speed Up Your Hard Disk

You should occasionally use a utility such as the Windows Disk Defragmenter to
defragment the hard disk. You can use Disk Defragmenter to rearrange files and
unused space on your hard disk so that programs run faster. This and other
third-party disk optimization software helps to minimize the area on the disk in
that Windows 95 needs to look for information. As with any such utilities,
always make back up copies of important files before you run the program. For
more information about using Disk Defragmenter or other third-party disk
optimization software, see your Windows or third- party documentation.

Optimize Virtual Memory Use

NOTE: Unless you are an advanced user, it is recommended to let Windows 95 manage
your Virtual Memory Settings option on the Performance tab of the My Computer
property sheet. You should use the default virtual memory settings whenever

With virtual memory, an application sees a large, continuous block of primary
memory (RAM) that, in reality, is a much smaller block of primary memory
supplemented by secondary memory (such as a hard disk). To temporarily free up
space in RAM, blocks of data (called pages) are moved between RAM and a swap
file located on the hard disk.

By default, the Windows 95 swap file is dynamic, so it can shrink or grow based
on available disk space and the operations performed on the system. Also, the
swap file can occupy a fragmented region of the hard disk with no substantial
performance penalty. A dynamic swap file is usually the most efficient use of
resources. The simplest way to ensure high virtual memory performance is to make
sure that the disk containing the swap file has ample free space so that the
swap file size can shrink and grow as needed.

In Windows 3.x, enhancing performance by changing virtual memory settings is
quite common. Because the Windows 95 swap file is dynamic, the need to change
virtual memory settings is less common. However, in some situations adjusting
virtual memory settings can improve performance. If you've already tried
deleting unnecessary files, and you still have a performance problem, try
changing the Windows 95 default virtual memory settings.

If you have more than one drive available, you may get better performance if you
specify that Windows locate the swap file on a drive other than the default in
the following cases:

- If the default drive doesn't have much free disk space, and another local
  drive has space available.

- If another local drive is available that is faster than the current drive
  (unless that disk is already heavily used).

You also may get better performance if you specify the minimum disk space
available for virtual memory to be at least 25 MB minus available RAM. For
example, if a computer has 12 MB of RAM, you should specify at least 13 MB of
virtual memory. You may want to specify more if several large applications will
be run at the same time.

For information about changing Windows 95 virtual memory settings, see the
"virtual memory settings" topic in Windows 95 Help.

Set Your Computer to Use Fewer Fonts, or to Use a Font Organizing Utility

The more fonts installed in Windows, the slower Windows and many applications
start because these programs read the entire font list at startup. Word does not
process the font list at startup; however, the impact of a large number of fonts
may be felt at other times such as the first time you print. In addition,
certain dialog boxes (such as the Font dialog box or the Insert Symbol dialog
box) take longer to appear the first time in a session with a large number of
fonts installed in a system. Furthermore, when Word needs to perform some
complex actions, fonts use additional memory and file resources.

Consider Setting Your Monitors to Use Only 16 or 256 Colors

Set your computer's monitor to use the correct video driver for faster screen
display. You may not need the highest resolution video driver and the up to 16
million colors your video driver supports. Additional color support in a video
driver can dramatically decrease the speed of screen updates when you scroll or
update graphics.

For writing reports and working with spreadsheets, you may need only 16 to 256
colors, so you can switch to a video driver that supports a lower resolution and
fewer colors. You can always switch back if there is no change in performance or
if your work requires additional video capabilities.

For additional information about video memory requirements for different video
resolutions in Windows 95, please see the following article in the Microsoft
Knowledge Base:


  Q132328 Description of Video RAM Required for Higher Resolutions

Work with Word and Files on Uncompressed Drives

You can use DriveSpace or other third-party utilities to compress both hard and
floppy disks to create more free space for files. While these utilities increase
the disk space available to you, they can slow performance of software running
from that drive, especially if the compression utility is not optimized.

The primary reason for performance degradation while running compression software
such as DoubleSpace is that each time a read or write is made from or to the
hard disk, data must be decompressed or compressed. This decompression or
compression of data places additional demand on the processor in your computer.
Computers with faster processors most likely will not experience performance
degradation after compression software is installed.

For additional information, please see your third-party documentation or if you
are using DriveSpace, the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:


  Q97741 Optimizing DoubleSpace on Your Computer

Work with Files on a Local Disk, Not From Floppy Disk

Running Word from or working with files located on a floppy disk may be slower
than working from a local hard disk. Avoid working on files located on a floppy
disk. Copy them locally instead.

Turn Off Use Printer Metrics to Lay Out Document to Improve Scrolling Speed

For converted documents, turn off Use Printer Metrics to Lay Out Document to
improve scrolling speed. With this option off, Word scrolls faster because the
program does not need to check printer settings to calculate formatting and

NOTE: This option is on by default in converted documents to preserve exact Word
95 or 6.x document formatting. Turning off this option may cause minor changes
in line wrapping or document pagination.

To change this option, follow these steps:

1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Compatibility tab.

2. Select Microsoft Word 6.0/95 from the Recommended Options for box.

3. Select or clear the Use printer metrics to lay out document check box.

Don't Use Wallpaper on a Low-Memory Computer

If the Windows desktop has a wallpaper (full-screen background) bitmap and the
computer has only 8-12 MB installed memory, replace the wallpaper with a solid
color or pattern bitmap, or no bitmap at all.

Use Background Save and Background Print

Background Save:

To continue working in Word while you save a document, turn on the background
save option. Keep in mind that background save uses additional system memory; if
you need to conserve system resources, you may want to turn off background save.
To change the background save option:

1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Save tab.

2. Select or clear the Allow Background Saves check box.

  NOTE: When Word saves a document in the background, a pulsing disk icon
  appears on the status bar.

  NOTE: If Word can't save a document in the background (for example, if you
  don't have enough hard disk space or if you're saving a document to a floppy
  disk), Word saves the document in the foreground instead.

Background Printing:

Select the Background Printing option that best fits the way you work. With
Background Printing turned on, your document prints a bit more slowly, but you
can continue working in Word while your document prints. With Background
Printing turned off, your document prints quickly, but you cannot work in Word
until the print job is finished. To change the Background Printing option, do
the following:

1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Print tab.

2. Select or clear Background printing check box.

Turn Off Background Spelling and Grammar Checking

Background spelling and grammar checking allows Word to show you misspellings
(red wavy underlines) and grammatical errors (green wavy underlines) while you
are typing. On some systems, this can cause your system to respond slower than
normal. To turn off background spelling and grammar checking, follow these

1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar

2. Clear the Check spelling as you type and Check grammar as you type check

Saving to Word 95 or 6.x

You may find the need to save your Word 97 documents to Word 95 or 6.x format, so
you can share documents with users of those versions of Word. In Word 97, you
have the option to save the document using the Microsoft Word 6.0-95 converter.
However, if you want to increase speed when dealing with Word 95 or 6.x
documents, you may want to install the Microsoft Word 97 converter on the
computer using Word 6.0 and 95. This way the conversion is done in Word 7.0 for
Windows 95 or 6.x; this method of conversion may be faster than saving to Word

To use the Word 97 converter after you install it, start Word 7.0 or Word 6.x,
and then open a Word 97 document. For additional information, please see the
following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:


  Q162214 WD: How to Obtain the Word 97-2000 Import Converter

Change Your View and View Settings


In Word, work in normal view instead of page layout view whenever possible. In
page layout view, Word takes longer to redraw the screen and repaginate the
document. To change to normal view, click Normal on the View menu.

View Settings:

Use Picture Placeholders if your document contains extensive graphics. This
option displays a blank box in place of each graphic in your document. To change
the Picture Placeholders option, follow these steps:

1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the View tab.

2. Select or clear Picture Placeholders check box.

Use the Draft Font option to speed up screen display in documents with extensive
formatting and graphics. This option displays most character formatting as
underlined and bold, graphics as empty boxes; this option is only available in
normal view.

To change the Draft Font option use the following steps:

1. Switch to normal view (on the View menu, click Normal).

2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the View tab.

3. Select the Draft font check box.

Adjust Your System to Speed Up Printing

If you print large documents that take several minutes to print, disable any
screen savers during the print job or switch to a blank screen saver.

Animated screen savers use computer processor time that you can allocate to a
print job. For more information, see your screen saver Control Panel program or

Print using the Draft output option. This option prints the document with minimal
formatting, which makes the document print faster (this option is ideal for
printing proofs).

NOTE: Some printers do not support this option.

To change the Draft output option, follow these steps:

1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Print tab.

2. Select or clear Draft output check box.

If you don't need to continue working while Word is printing, turn off the
Background Printing option in Word.

This option allocates processor time to Word during a print job so you can
continue working while Word is printing; however, this means less processor time
is available for printing. Select the Background Printing option that best fits
the way you work. With Background Printing turned on, your document prints a bit
more slowly, but you can continue working in Word while your document is
printing. With Background Printing turned off, your document is printed quickly,
but you cannot work in Word until the print job is finished. To turn off the
Background Printing option, use the following steps:

1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Print tab.

2. Clear the Background printing check box.

Turn Off Outlook Journaling

Outlook journaling tracks documents as they are closed or saved. On some
computers, this may create a noticeable delay during the close or save process.
Outlook journaling is turned on by default when Outlook is installed. To turn
off Outlook journaling, follow these steps:

1. Start Microsoft Outlook.

2. In Outlook, on the Tools menu, click Options.

3. Click the Journaling tab.

4. Clear all of the check boxes in the dialog box.

Turn Off the Mouse Scheme

Turning off the animated mouse scheme increases system performance, although the
increase probably is not noticeable. To turn off the mouse scheme, follow these

1. On the Windows taskbar, click Start, point to Settings and click Control

2. Double-click Mouse.

3. Click the Pointers tab.

4. Set the Scheme to None.

Increase Cache Size

Increasing the cache size from the default amount of 64 kilobytes (KB) may allow
you to check spelling and edit documents across a local area network.

To use the RegOptions macro, follow these steps:

1. On the Tools menu, click Templates and Add-Ins.

2. Click Add. Select the following folder:

  Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Macros

3. Select the Support8 template ( Click OK twice.

4. On the Tools menu, point to Macro, and then click Macros.

5. Click to select the RegOptions macro, and then click Run.

6. Click the Word 8.0 Options tab. Click to select CacheSize. In the Setting
  box, type "1024" (without the quotation marks). Click OK.

7. Quit and restart Word.



A graphic made up of a collection of colored dots. The computer stores the
graphic as one or more bits of information for each dot--hence the name bitmap.
Some file name extensions for graphic files that are bitmaps include .pcx, .tif,
.bmp, and .gif.

compressed drive:

A drive that has had its data compressed to take up less space. Special software
must be running in the system to read from and write to a drive that is set up
this way.

conventional memory:

The base RAM on your computer, typically the first 640K. Conventional memory is
the only kind of RAM that MS-DOS-based applications can use, unless you use an
expanded memory manager (EMM). Compare expanded memory, extended memory.

driver (Windows printer or video driver):

Software that Windows loads at startup. Drivers give Windows specific
instructions about your video card and printer that Windows and Windows- based
applications use to display information on the screen and to print information
on your printer.

expanded memory:

A type of physical RAM, up to 8 MB, usually used by MS-DOS-based applications
that support its use. Windows does not use expanded memory. In Windows, if you
run an MS-DOS-based application (such as Microsoft Word 6.0 for MS-DOS) that
requires expanded memory, Windows emulates expanded memory (if you are running
in standard mode, Windows uses the EMM386.EXE device driver to emulate expanded
memory). The use of expanded memory is defined by the Expanded Memory
Specification (EMS). Compare conventional memory, extended memory.

extended memory:

Physical RAM beyond 1 MB, accessible when your computer is operating in protected
mode (the mode that supports multitasking). Extended memory operates through a
memory manager such as MS-DOS Himem.sys. Windows uses extended memory. Extended
memory is not typically available to MS-DOS- based applications except through a
device driver such as Emm386.exe. The use of extended memory is defined by the
Extended Memory Specification (XMS). Compare expanded memory, conventional


The arrangement of a document's layout, specifically where page breaks fall
within a given document.


Acronym for random access memory. This is the memory on semiconductor chips in
your computer, not on the hard disk. The more RAM you have, the more programs
you can run at the same time and the faster your programs may run.

swap file:

A file Windows creates on your hard disk that it uses to swap information into
and out of memory. Windows uses the swap file to create virtual memory.

virtual memory:

Also called disk memory. Virtual memory is not in the RAM chips. It is space on
the hard disk that your computer uses as if it were RAM. With virtual memory,
your applications can process files that would otherwise be too large to fit in
physical RAM. Windows uses swap files to create virtual memory.

-------------------- on the World Wide Web:

Check for additional information, tips, and tricks.

Microsoft Windows 95 Resource Kit:

The Microsoft Windows 95 Resource Kit has a chapter devoted to performance tuning
that discusses topics such as the relation of performance to processor type,
hard disk speed, memory (RAM), and conventional memory tuning. This chapter is a
good resource for understanding the issues involved in configuring your PC for
optimal performance. Other topics include Installation, Networking, Systems
Management, Systems Configuration, Communications, Windows 95 Reference, Windows
95 Appendixes, a Guided Tour for Administrators, and Resource Kit Utilities.

  Microsoft Corporation
  1348 pages with one CD
  ISBN: 1-55615-678-2

Microsoft Office 97 Resource Kit:

Microsoft Office 97 Resource Kit is the definitive guide to installing,
configuring, and supporting Office in your organization. Designed for system
administrators, consultants, and power users, this guide offers complete
coverage whether you're running Office in Windows 95 or Windows NT Workstation
version 4.0.

  Microsoft Corporation
  1008 pages with one CD
  ISBN: 1=57231=329=3

Additional query words: configure optimize optimal set up enhance performance

Keywords          : word97 kbfaq
Technology        : kbWordSearch kbWord97 kbWord97Search kbZNotKeyword2
Version           : :
Issue type        : kbinfo



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