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Word opens files as random characters, not text!


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sneak's Avatar
sneak sneak is offline
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26-Oct-2005, 10:07 AM #1
Word opens files as random characters, not text!
Hi everyone,

I've had a Word meltdown. When I go to open files that I normally open all the time without problems, I'm presented with a "File Conversion" dialog box, which asks me to "select the encoding which makes my document readable".

Nothing that I select works. I just get a page full of random characters, instead of the document I normally do.

I'm panicking somewhat, as these document are part of my university work - they're essential!

Thanks to anyone for your help in advance.

Sneak
bonk's Avatar
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26-Oct-2005, 10:39 AM #2
Have you tried with word open click on the help menue and click Detect and repair
cristobal03's Avatar
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26-Oct-2005, 10:40 AM #3
Check out this site for a little info, then follow the instructions listed here. Thanks to Dreamboat for both those links.

Post back if renaming your Normal template doesn't resolve the issue.

HTH

chris.
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26-Oct-2005, 11:20 AM #4
Hi Chris and bonk,

Thanks for your quick replies.

Chris, I've attempted to search for "normal.dot" - as those tutorial directed - but I can't find it. I tried searching as they suggested, and opening Word, and looking under "user templates"...nothing there. I can still open the Word program however.

I haven't tried "detect & repair" yet, as I'd like to sort out this normal.dot thing.

Thanks,

Sneak
cristobal03's Avatar
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26-Oct-2005, 11:36 AM #5
The normal.dot file is a hidden file. You'll have to enable your search to include hidden files and folders. If you need more info on how to do that, post back please.

chris.

[edit]
In case future readers would like to know.

Lifted from a post by EAFielder:

Quote:
You may need to enable Show Hidden Files and Folders
For Windows XP:
Open My Computer or Windows Explorer
Tools > Folder Options > View tab,
under Hidden Files and Folders, verify Show Hidden Files and Folders is selected.
Remove the check marks for:
Hide Extensions for known file types
Apply, OK to save and close.
[/edit]
sneak's Avatar
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26-Oct-2005, 11:43 AM #6
Hi Chris - I think I enabled hidden files using the "My computer> Folder options > view" tab, as the article instructed. Nothing turned up on the search. What am I not doing?
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26-Oct-2005, 11:54 AM #7
Ok - found the normal.dot files and deleted them. Still the same problem.

I found this on microsoft.com:

http://support.microsoft.com/?scid=k...253&sid=global

Could a worm be the problem?
cristobal03's Avatar
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26-Oct-2005, 11:55 AM #8
...If you have Microsoft Word, you have a normal.dot file. Even if you didn't, Word would create a new one when you opened the application.

On this Windows 2000 box, my normal.dot file is located at the following path (I'm not sure how universal this is; I'm on a corporate box):

%systemdrive%\Documents and Settings\%username%\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates

What version of Windows do you use? In case it's XP, see if this Microsoft Knowledge Base article doesn't help some.

chris.
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26-Oct-2005, 11:56 AM #9
Egh, sorry for the late post. Malware is always a possibility, though it's by no means my strong suit. Do you regularly employ antivirus/spyware software, and if so, do you have the latest definitions?

chris.
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26-Oct-2005, 12:00 PM #10
Hi Chris,

Thanks for all your help. Yes I do - I have up to date versions and definitions of both McAfee VirusScan and Webroot SpySweeper. I can't understand it - some Word files open fine, whereas others (my critical work ones) just seem completely screwed. They open up as random characters.

I've run another virus sweep, which found nothing. It's incredibly frustrating.
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26-Oct-2005, 12:22 PM #11
I was not aware that this only happened with certain documents. The first thing that comes to mind is that you worked on the document on another computer--is this the case?

For example, when I was in school I'd often email myself my working document (or use a removeable medium) to go to the computer lab and do some editing. If I had used an Apple workstation rather than a PC, I probably would've hosed my file. Does this sound like something you've done?

I wonder if you can't open the file as Unicode...I've never had to recover something like that so I wouldn't quite know how to go about it, but I'll give it some thought and post back. Hopefully a Word MVP like Dreamboat will jump on this thread too; her knowledge of document recovery far exceeds mine.

Post back about working on more than one computer though, that might make all the difference.

chris.
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26-Oct-2005, 12:38 PM #12
Hi Chris,

No, no multiple computers I'm afraid.

I was just happily working away on a document in Word here at home, saved and closed it, and then opened another. It opened as gobbledegook, and that was the first time it happened. It now seems that selected Word files (some, but not others) are affected.

If I could just recover the raw text, that would be something. I can't even seem to get that, even with the "open any file" option.

I have to go to bed now, but I'll check back here in the morning. Thanks hugely once again for your help Chris, you've been fantastic!

Sneak
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26-Oct-2005, 02:08 PM #13
One of the reasons a Word file will open as gobbledygook sometimes, and other files are fine:

If you hit File-->Open in Word, check the Files of type. If Recover Text from any File is selected, it will open them kinda like gobbledygook. But if you were to double-click a file, it bypasses the Recover text thing... make sure yours doesn't have that as the files of type.

I'm looking more at this, and we may send you over to security to do a Hijack this and all that...
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26-Oct-2005, 05:15 PM #14
I'm still unable to find a dictionary definition of the word "Gobbledygook"

Have you tried googling "Gobbledygook?"

Sounds like the file is corrupt. Have you tried opening in Notepad?

Rollin
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27-Oct-2005, 07:02 AM #15
Hi guys,

thanks for your replies. If it is the case that the files are corrupted somehow, is there any way humanly possible of recovering the text? And what's to prevent this happening again? Should Office be reinstalled?

Sneak
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