How to use Microsoft Office Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a great way to troubleshoot crashes, bugs and slow performance in Microsoft (MS) Office programs on a Windows computer. Outlook, Word, Excel and Power Point from 2003 and later all support Safe Mode. 


So what is Safe Mode?

Safe Mode is an alternative way to launch an MS program. You may recall that if Word, Outlook or any other MS product crashes while being used, it will display an option to relaunch the program in Safe Mode. Unfortunately, they don’t make it obvious what this does or why you should do it! 

By enabling Safe Mode, MS programs will run with:

-          Any add-ins or extensions disabled

-          Default toolbar settings, no customisations

-          Recovered documents not opened by default

-          Limited saving capabilities and other restrictions


One of the most common issues that requires Safe Mode, is when the MS program will crash every time it is launched. This is often the fault of add-ins, which can be disabled via Safe Mode. If you are experiencing crashes upon program launches, try the following to resolve the issue:


Using Safe Mode to Disable an Add-In

Manually launching Safe Mode can be done at any point on a Windows PC:

-          Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog

-          Type “outlook /safe” into the text field (without quotations, but remember the space inbetween)

-          Hit Enter and the MS program will launch in safe mode

If you want to launch a program other than outlook, use:

-          “winword /safe” for Word

-          “excel /safe” for Excel

-          “powerpnt /safe” for Powerpoint

To check if you are in Safe Mode, look at the top of the program window, where you should see the program name then (Safe Mode):

ss (2014-02-18 at 11.11.14).png

If the program now launches in Safe Mode, but crashes in normal mode, it is a good indication of what can be wrong. The best place to look is in the Add-Ins section, so go to:

-          File -> Options

-          Select Add-ins from the menu

-          Next to “Manage: COM Add-ins” Click Go…


This will provide you with a list of add-ins available to the program. Add-ins with a ticked box run automatically, Add-ins without a tick will not run. Look for any add-ins that appear to be 3rd party or not useful for you. One of the common culprits is ABBYY FineReader, which can cause all MS Office 2013 programs to crash upon launch. If you are unsure whether an add-in should be enabled or not, you can always disable it now, and enable it later if you find yourself needing it.

Once you have unchecked the add-in causing problems, click OK then close the MS program. Open it again normally (this time not in safe mode) and it should launch without any issues!

While this is only one of the uses for Safe Mode, in our experience it is one of the most common issues.


We hope this short guide helps, and if you have any issues or questions feel free to contact us for personalised support.

Common ADSL internet problems on the Northern Beaches


Is your ADSL internet slow or unreliable? We’ll help you get it fixed.

Slow and unreliable internet is very common on the Northern Beaches but it doesn’t need to be that way. Over the years we’ve helped countless homeowners tackle this situation.

This article addresses a few of the most common causes to internet problems, starting with two that are very common on the Northern Beaches due to old infrastructure.

Just recently we helped a family who had already tried to engage with Telstra support several times to fix their intermittent internet issues. Needless to say, they weren't getting very far with Telstra overseas support and their technicians who only seem to care about crossing the job off the list rather than actually fixing something.

We've put this blog together to help demystify internet connectivity issues and give Northern Beaches home owners a rock solid process for getting their internet issues solved.

The Process

  1. Test the internet connection two different computers (preferably cabled to the router), sometimes the culprit can be the computer itself.
  2. Restart your internet equipment (Modem / Router / Switch)
  3. Make sure you haven't gone over your internet quota. If your internet is working but going slowly, going over your quota is a likely cause. You can check your quota over the phone and online as long as you have all of your ISP account details.
  4. If none of the above fixes the issue and internet is not working on multiple devices connected directly to your modem, router or switch, it's time to call your ISP. Ask for technical support, tell them you are having problems with your internet and ask them if there are any outages in your area and to test your line from their end. If they aren't able to fault the line, they will likely take you through steps to troubleshoot your internet equipment.
  5. This is where it gets tedious and if you're able to understand the accent, more often than not they are able to help guide you through resolving your issue if it is indeed a fault with your equipment.

    If you're at step 5, this is probably the point at which you've spent countless hours on the phone with support and are desperately in need of a Geek For Hire.
Call Center

The most common causes (Step 5 and beyond) are:

#1. Faulty line between the home and he exchange

In many cases a faulty line that is a casualty of ageing infrastructure or erosion by water damage can be the culprit. The good news is that your internet service provider (Telstra, iiNet, internode, Optus etc) will almost always fix this for free within a few weeks of you reporting it. The bad news is that it can be pretty hard convincing them the problem isn’t your own modem/ router equipment. Geek For Hire have the technical knowhow and patience to properly diagnose those tricky to pinpoint issues like line faults. We can test your internet equipment and talk jargon with your internet service provider to find out exactly where the issue is. If it’s a line fault we can generally get your ISP to fix it free of charge if it’s not a fault within the home.

#2. Faulty ports at the telephone exchange

Many internet users on the Northern Beaches experience intermittent internet issues due to the degrading equipment at the exchange. If you’re experiencing internet issues and you’re sure it’s not your equipment of phone line, you may be one of the unlucky users to be on an old port connection at the exchange. If this is the case, you will want to request a port migration. We recently helped a customer who had a Telstra technician out several times to diagnose the issue and every time blamed the fault on the clients hardware. This unfortunately is not always the case and the technicians being time poor just want to mark the job off as done.

If you need help getting through to Telstra and making progress on your internet issues without waiting on hold for hours on the phone only to meet with a technician who isn’t interested in fixing your problem then give us a call.

#3. Faulty modem or router

Networking equipment like modems and routers often degrade and fault over time. The first thing to do in order to diagnose faulty internet is to reset or replace your modem / router in order to rule out an equipment fault.

To keep your modem / modem router combo healthy for years to come, make sure they are well ventilated & are plugged in to a surge protector as they are both very prone to overheating and small power spikes.

[insert image of poorly ventilated router]

#4. Wifi Interference

If you’re using WiFi to connect to the internet and you’re experiencing a slow or intermittent connection it may be that you have another wireless device interfering with your signal. Interference can be cause by other neighbouring networks or other devices in between or close to your WiFi modem router e.g. a radio phone or other media device. To rule out wireless interference you may first want to try connecting your computer via ethernet cable to and turning off your computer WiFi to see if the connection gets any better. If you notice an improvement when using a cabled connection, you may want to try changing the WiFi channel in the setting on your wireless access point and making sure there are no interfering devices near by.