Q: I have three questions. First, I have Microsoft Word 2007 on my home PC. For about two months now, when I open a saved Word document, I get a pop-up: “The command cannot be performed because a dialogue box is open. Click OK, and then close open dialogue box to continue.” When I click on the box, it goes away and then runs a virus scan — every single time. I have performed the usual checks to find this open dialogue box and either cannot find it or do not have one.

Also, I read that Microsoft no longer supports Word 2007, which I take to mean that it will provide no more updates, etc. If I switch to the free online versions of Word and Excel what happens to all my saved documents? Can I transfer them? Do you recommend the free Word/Excel or Google Documents for home use?

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Finally, my extended family is interested in having one place in which to keep family photos that can be accessible only to us. I am concerned about the security that a site such as Facebook provides. What is your recommendation for multiple users across different formats and accessibility?

— Pat Rafa

A: First, your issue of the open dialogue box. I haven’t personally experienced this, but a number of other users have. Apparently, in at least some cases the cause is a corrupt Word template.

Here’s what to try:

  1. Launch File Explorer and then click on the View table. Check the box next to “Hidden items.”
  2. Click on C: drive and then scroll down to Users and open your user folder.
  3. Open the App Data folder, then the Roaming folder, then the Microsoft folder and, finally, the Templates folder.
  4. Rename the Normal file.
  5. Close File Explorer and then relaunch Word, which will create a new Normal template.

As for a replacement for Word 2007, yes, both Microsoft and Google offer free online versions of their office suites. Just be aware that the programs don’t have all the features of the programs you pay for and you can only work with files when you have an internet connection. But both suites support the file formats used by the Microsoft Office suite, as well as several other formats. So yes, you can load the documents you’ve already created and you can save newly created documents to your computer.


As for which suite is better, I think it’s more a matter of which suite suits your style. I’m a longtime user of Microsoft Office, so if it was me I’d stick with the Microsoft online suite since the tools are familiar. But both suites are free to use so try them both and see which suits you best!

You also have a lot of choices available for sharing photos. I haven’t heard of any particular security issues in using Facebook, other than Facebook having access to your photos, that is. But bear in mind that photos uploaded to Facebook are compressed and analyzed. If you don’t want to lose resolution in your photos — and if you don’t want Facebook analyzing your photos — you might consider opening a cloud storage account.

Q: How can I search The Seattle Times for answers to questions you have addressed in the past? If I try to guess the key word which was once listed for a question I now have, I am just forwarded to The Seattle Times homepage. So unfortunate to have all the great information in those past columns to just be lost now.

— Richard Smallwood

A: There is a search utility in the upper-right corner of The Seattle Times site. But if you don’t find what you’re looking for there, try a search engine such as Google. Just include my name, site:seattletimes.com and the topic you want to search for.

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