Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable – Fixed!

If, like me, you’ve received the “Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable” error shown above when starting Word, here’s a couple of quick simple fixes that should address the problem.

 

Fix – Creating Environment Variables

This issue can be caused by profile corruption, viruses, or disk corruption, however in some cases I have simply been unable to come up with a reason for why this would change. I will address the corruption/possible virus issues towards the end – for now the fix:

  1. Open system properties. This can be done either of two ways:
    1. Open explorer, right click “This PC” (or my computer if you’re stuck in the past like me) and go to properties.
    2. Press the windows key + Pause/Break on your keyboard.
  2. Choose “Advanced system settings” on the left hand side.
    Windows system properties screen
  3. Then press System Variables in the window that appears.
    Advanced system settings box
  4. In the next window, click the first add button.
    environment variables box
  5. Create a new environment variable as follows, replacing USERNAME in the value field with your username:
    create a new user variable
  6. Finally, click OK on each of the windows to confirm the settings and close them.

 

You should now be able to launch Word without receiving the “Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable” error. In most cases, this will fix the issue, however if not, please read on for Microsoft’s recommended fix. Please also note the points raised after the fixes to address possible corruption or virus issues.

 

Fix Number 2 – Microsoft’s fix 

This method is what’s advised by Microsoft to fix the issue in their knowledge base article. Unfortunately, Microsoft advise the issue is caused by “The Temporary Internet Files folder for Windows Internet Explorer is set to be in a location where you do not have permission to create new temporary files”. In my experience this has not been the case, so I can only make the same assumptions I’ve made above and advise you read on after the fix to ensure no viruses are present or corruption is occurring.

  1. Browse to C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows (you may need to show hidden files for this to appear).
  2. Create a new folder named “INetCacheContent.Word” 

You should now be able to launch Word without receiving the “Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable” error. I’ve personally not had this working in many cases, however it’s worth a shot and won’t do any harm if it doesn’t work for you. Either way, please also note the points raised after the fixes to address possible corruption or virus issues.

 

Other Pointers 

I’ve mentioned this above, however it’s worth checking for viruses or corruption on your now you’ve solved the above issue. If you’re happy on how to go about this, then you don’t need to read any further – however I’ll leave some basic instructions for those that aren’t.

  1. Check your computer for viruses by running a scan with your antivirus package. I also recommend running a scan using Malwarebytes – available for free for home users. Malwarebytes will run as secondary protection, therefore there’s no need to remove your existing package.
  2. Run system file check. Open command prompt and run the following command: “sfc.exe /scannow”. This will check all core operating system files and repair any corruption.
  3. Run a disk check. Open command prompt and run the following command: “chkdsk /r /f”. This will scan the drive for data inconsistencies and repair what it can.

 

If none of this helps, it is my recommendation to try system restore or consulting a local computer professional to investigate this further or you.

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