When Microsoft Word Spins the Beach Ball

So, I figured I should share how I recovered a document, an important essay exam, during an “it-must-be-sun-spots” random lock-up of Microsoft Word 2008 on an iMac.


  • Spinning beach ball while otherwise routinely typing in Microsoft Word 2008 on an iMac or Macbook.
  • Unable to click on the desktop as the Finder was also locked-up.
  • Force Quit-> was unavailable.
  • Mouse was responsive, but not clickable.
  • Keyboard was unresponsive.

Steps I used to recover:

  1. Disconnect mouse and keyboard.
  2. Press, more of a tap actually, the power button. Screen “sleeps” instantly. Tap power button again to wake. (DO NOT hold the power button – this will reboot the machine and all will be lost!)
  3. Wait for the “no bluetooth mouse” Bluetooth Setup Assistant dialogue pop-up to appear.
  4. Plugin the mouse and keyboard.
  5. command+shift+4 to take a screen picture of as much of the frozen document as you can.
  6. Now go to Force Quit->Finder->Relaunch. Do not force quit anything else.
  7. When finder relaunches, navigate to Go->Home->Documents->Microsoft User Data->Office 2008 AutoRecovery.
  8. There should hopefully be a file in there created recently, “Autorecovery save of Document1”. Add a “.doc” to the end of the filename. Copy this document to the Desktop.
  9. Force Quit->Word
  10. Double-click the document to relaunch Word. Voila, there it is.

After following these steps, the user was then able to copy the text into a new Word document and carry on.


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