[Fix] Microsoft Word Always Shows “[Compatibility Mode]” Text in Titlebar

Recently an AskVG reader "Prajwal" contacted me regarding an strange problem in Microsoft Office suite. Here is the email content:

Whenever I open Office Word 2013 (blank document), it always opens in compatibility mode. It doesn't happen in PowerPoint or Excel programs. Can you help me in solving this problem?

Its a known problem in Microsoft Word program and I have received lots of emails in past regarding the same issue.

"Compatibility Mode" was a new feature introduced by Microsoft in Office 2007 version. It was developed to support old documents and files which were created using previous versions of Office suite such as Office 2003, etc. When you try to open a document created in older version of Word in a new version of Word program, the document window shows [Compatibility Mode] text in titlebar as shown in following screenshot:


But the problem occurs when the [Compatibility Mode] text always appears in titlebar of all Word documents whether its a new document or an existing document.

This problem can occur in any version of Microsoft Word which provides Compatibility Mode feature such as Word 2007, 2010 or 2013.

If you are also facing this issue, following methods will definitely help you in fixing it:

  • METHOD 1: Using Microsoft Word Options
  • METHOD 2: Deleting Default Document Template
  • METHOD 3: Using Registry Editor

METHOD 1: Using Microsoft Word Options

It might be possible that you changed the default file format to save new documents in Word which caused this issue. Follow these steps to restore the default file save format:

1. Open Microsoft Word, click on File Menu or ORB and then click on Options.

2. Now go to "Save" tab and select "Word Document (*.docx)" from the drop-down list given in "Save files in this format" section.


3. Apply the changes and restart Word. Now it should not show [Compatibility Mode] text in titlebar.

PS: Also try to uncheck "Open e-mail attachments and other uneditable files in reading view" option present in General tab.

METHOD 2: Deleting Default Document Template

If the above method doesn't work, it might be possible that you upgraded Office suite from an older version in your system instead of a clean install. Sometimes upgrading from previous version can make the default document template file corrupt and it starts creating all new documents in Compatibility Mode.

In such situation, you'll need to reset the default template for creating new documents using following steps:

1. Type %appdata%\Microsoft\Templates in RUN dialog box and press Enter. It'll open Templates folder in Windows Explorer.

2. Look for Normal.dotm file in the folder. Either delete the file or rename it to some other name.


3. That's it. Open Word and it'll automatically create a new Normal.dotm file in Templates folder which will solve the issue.

METHOD 3: Using Registry Editor

If above mentioned 2 methods don't work for you, here is a Registry tweak to fix the issue:

1. Type regedit in RUN dialog box and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following key:

for Office 2007: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Word\Options
for Office 2010: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Word\Options
for Office 2013: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Word\Options

3. In right-side pane, look for a DWORD CompatMode. If you find it, delete it. If it doesn't exist, create a new DWORD and set its name to CompatMode and set its value to 0


4. Close Registry Editor and restart Word. It should solve the problem.

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Posted in: Microsoft Office, Troubleshooting

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  • thank you for this tip. method number two worked for me.

  • Thank you, Vishal!

    But all this means that M$ again shoots it foot: *.dot is smth that I, personally, had been creating for years (I used even MS Word 5 for DOS!!!) -- and now, because MS cannot find good programmers or whatever any other reason, I have to through all those macros, styles, autoformat etc out?!

    Thank you, MS, that is why I for years persuade my students and relatives to stop using MS Office...

  • It's worked. Thanks VG.

    It happen because i experiment using multiple office version at same time. And i install 2013 early

  • Another explanation for the "always" compatibility mode is that your NORMAL.DOTM was created in an earlier version of Word. So every time Word opens, with the "old" NORMAL.DOTM it is automatically in compatibility mode. So, that implies you installed your new version of Office as an "in-place upgrade" over an older version.

    Your method 2 is a fix for the problem because when Word starts and no NORMAL.DOT(M) is present, it automatically generates a new one from hard coded values in the program itself.

    A better approach to DELETING the template file is to RENAME it. That way Word will still regenerate the NORMAL.DOTM and you will still have the old version of the file to resolve BOB's issue. You now can use the "Organizer" to copy the macros and styles from the old template to the new one.

    Another option is to open NORMAL.DOT(M) for editing, then use the File menu > Info command > Convert button to convert the template into the new format. Remember to save to DOTM, not DOTX format.

    Additional tip: for anyone who prefers the various default style settings from 2003 (ie Times Roman instead of calibri etc), if you want to automatically import all of the old 2003 settings into a newer version of Office follow these steps:
    - close all word sessions
    - rename/delete the current NORMAL.DOTM file
    - place a copy of your 2003 NORMAL.DOT into the default template folder.

    Now, when you start Word, it will pick up settings and macros from the old 2003 NORMAL.DOT and import them into the new NORMAL.DOTM it is generating.

  • I thought I would never have this problem, but I had today :C.

  • I did it the first way 2 months before I read this article! LOL :D
    But I had no idea about the other 2...I'll try those if it happens again. :P

  • Hi VG. Could u suggest a solution to fix dis problem in word 2010 & 2013. When i open a new document A, the previous document B that i had minimized also display behind doc A. I just want doc B in minimized mode. Im using word 2010 in win7 & word 2013 in win8. Tnx in advance...

  • Thank you very much guys.
    Your methods to show the steps are awesome and very easy to find.
    Keep up the good work guys

  • Ron's alternate approach, to upgrade the NORMAL.DOT(M) by opening it for editing, then using the File menu > Info command > Convert button to convert the template into the new format, worked perfectly for me, and preserved all of my customizations to that file. (I copied it first so I'd have a backup just in case.) Very clean - thanks!

  • what happens when your document is frozen and at the top it has the title: document 23 [Compatibility Mode] with compatibility mode next to it?

  • I edited an MS Office 2007 word document but erroneously clicked on don't save option while quitting.
    Is there any way to retrieve the contents as i don't want to do that tedious work again,,
    kindly suggest.

  • Thank you very much. I encountered the same problem on Office 2010 and I got it solved through your second method (passing by Wondows + Run).

  • yesterday i created one .odt file and by mistake i saved it in .doc format
    when i opened that file today it is not showing its content (images)
    how should i get my images back.
    it is showing only 1kb as its size right now..
    pls help me..

  • no one method is applicable in my case, please help me. I have very important work with word for my college work. please help as early as possible, I have final submission on 13 june 2014.

  • thanks. removes compatibility mode , but a problem remains that if I use 'save' it cancelled file name and replaces it with a temp file. I can get file back by using 'save as' and changing name back to original (if I can remember it exactly). If I only us 'save as' then I have no problem but it adds an extra stage and others using it don't know. Has any one met this problem? john kendall

  • what is the reason why the ''file'' menu of microsoft word 2003 is usually in the top left corner of the screen? explain pls....

  • Great article - well done!

    Although the suggestions listed may work for most people using personal computers it does not address the business side. There is one thing missing, in my opinion, and that is the mention of settings that may have been applied using Group Policy in a Microsoft Active Directory environment. Group Policy allows administrators to control settings and defaults on the computers under their care. Many large businesses use this method and the settings active in Policy may make some features unavailable, or in the case of Templates, may redirect them to a network share instead of on the local hard drive. All I want to bring to light is the fact that some of your article's readers may find that none of these solutions work, and that may be due to Group Policy that may be implemented in their environment.
    Thanks for reading and good luck!

  • Method 2 worked for me - thanks :-)

  • I can not open word 2003 in word 2013 ?

  • How can I reset my microsoft word to its original settings as at the moment they are printing out as a letter but size 6 and keeps changing the writing, it is usually in Arial and size 10, how can I change this back to normal settings as I cannnot find any help on this

  • thanks guys,
    I have to say that non of the above has worked for me including removing word and installing it back (Word 2013)

  • On Option #3 how do I create a new DWORD CompatMode in the registry?

    I have legacy installs for Office in the registry location shown above; specifically 11.0, 12.0, 14.0 and 15.0.

    None of those files contain DWORD CompatMode.


  • VG

    ^^ Right-click and select New -> DWORD option.

  • Thanks, it works!

  • I was able to resolve the issue of documents opening in compatibility mode by opening the document then going to File >> Options and under the General tab, unselecting the checkbox by 'Open e-mail attachments and other uneditable files in reading view'.

    I no longer have this issue.

  • I tried all of the above but still have the same problem. I am using Microsft Office Professional Plus 2013. All documents open in [Read-Only][Compatibility Mode] with a new file name e.g. Wd0000028.doc (note .dc not .docx).

    I previously had Office Home 2003 installed on this PC.

    Any Ideas?

  • I seem to have fixed my problem.

    I found and uninstalled two old M/S office related programmes- an office 2003/2007 compatibility pack and a Powerpoint viewer. Word .docx files now open properly i.e. not in compatibility mode.

  • I had these problems a few months ago when I upgraded to the new Office 365 provided by my university. Using the steps above resolved the issues, at least until I upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 recently. Paul's suggestion, to uninstall the old Office Compatibility Packs and PowerPoint Viewers, worked for me!

  • Thank you very much. It works!

  • Excellent, it worked. The third method. Thank you

  • I have a problem that if I open a word document from the word ikon on the taskbar, it opens in word 2010 as it is supposed too. However if I double-click on the same a word document name in a folder, it always opens it in word 2003. I have tried your three solutions above and none have solved the problem. I also get the normal.com error recurring even when I delete or rename it.
    Drives me crazy, hope you can suggest something.

  • Method 2: I only have a "Normal" file. If I delete it & go back into word, it creates another "Normal" file.

    Method 1: The 2 boxes were already checked.

    I've had Word 10 for 2 years. FIVE MINUTES AGO, all my Word 10 files were fine. Now when I go back into the same files, they're all opening in compatibility mode. I had to have just hit a button by mistake?

  • My solution is to reinstall the whole MS 365 Office program. It works-- until you open any MS Word document online which the program feels compelled to open in "compatibility mode". It will then continue to open all documents in "compatibility mode" (even those created on one's own computer) until one reinstalls again.

    Why can't Microsoft fix this if everyone knows about it?

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