Solved: ‘Word could not create the work file’ Error

A wrong cache value can cause the “Word could not create the work file” error when opening a Word document. Here is how to fix the problem.

Being a long time Office user, I generally write everything in a Word document. As such, it is one of the first and foremost applications I open after turning on the system. However, when I tried to open a Word document recently, I got greeted with a strange error that said “Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable” error.

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If you are seeing the same kind of error message, follow the below steps to quickly fix it.

Solution to “Word could not create the work file” error

To fix the “Word could not create the work file” error, you have to make sure the Cache path is set properly in the registry editor. Here’s how.

Step 1: Open the Registry Editor. To do that, open the Start menu, search for “Registry Editor” and click on the top search result.

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Step 2: Paste the below path in the address bar and press Enter. This will take you to the “User shell folders” folder in the registry editor.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

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Step 3: Double-click on the “Cache” value on the right page. This is the value that hosts the default cache folder path.

Step 4: Paste the below path in the Value Data field and click “Ok”.

%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache

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Step 5: Close the registry editor and restart Windows.

After restarting, open the Word application or any Word document and it should open normally.

In case you are wondering, %USERPROFILE% is a Windows system environment variable that always points to your user directory. You can verify that from the Run window. Open the Run window with the “Win + R” shortcut, type “%USERPROFILE%” in the blank field, and click “Ok”. It will open the user directory.

What causes the “Word could not create the work file” error?

The good thing is the error is pretty self-explanatory. i.e. the Word application is unable to create a work file in the cache folder.

You see, when you open a Word document, it automatically creates a temporary work file in a user-specific cache folder called “INetCache”. Word does this using a registered system variable in the Registry Editor. If the system variable or the cache path is changed or corrupted for whatever reason, Word cannot create the work file. This causes the “Word could not create the work file” error. Unless you fix the error with the above steps, you cannot use the Word application.

This type of error is common in Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 2016, Office 2019, and Office 365. Put simply, almost all versions of Office will encounter this error if the user cache folder path is not correct.

I hope that helps. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible.

Here are some more articles regarding the Office Word application. Do check them out.

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