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FIX: Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable.

“Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable.” the basics.

As soon as you edit a document in Microsoft Word, Word creates temporary files in the background. These store certain things as ‘recovery’ should Word get stuck or something like that.

Most of these files are optional, but unfortunately some are required. If the required temp files are not created, Word gets corrupt and you get the error message: “Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable. ”

There is not a precise solution for this, so the tutorial consists of the solution that works for me and below that is a collection of Microsoft solutions.

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

Let’s fix ‘Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable.’

The solution that worked for me.

  • Go to start and search for Regedit.
    Or press WindowsR and type in Regedit.
  • Search for the key below. You can also copy/paste this if you’re using Windows 10.
    Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders
  • See if the location for Cache is:
    %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache
    If it’s not, please copy paste the location in the key.
  • Click OK.
  • Because it is a computer setting you have to restart the device before it is applied.

A solution from the Microsoft website.

  • Go to start and open the explorer.
    Copy / paste the following location in Windows Explorer.
    C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows
  • Create a new folder (CTRL + N) and name it INetCacheContent.Word.
Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable
Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable.

A creative solution.

  • Open Internet Explorer and go to the gearwheel.
  • Open Internet Options now.
  • Under the General tab you see a box with Browsing History.
    Click on the Settings.
  • Increase the Disk space to use to 1gb.
  • Click OK.

Published by

Bas Wijdenes

My name is Bas Wijdenes and I work full-time as a Services Engineer. In my spare time I write about the error messages that I encounter during my work. Furthermore, I am currently occupied with Office 365, Azure infrastructure, and PowerShell for automating daily tasks.

15 thoughts on “FIX: Word could not create the work file. Check the temp environment variable.”

  1. Solved for Word and also excel that was refusing to create new workbooks…

    in fact the temp folder was hidden (normal I suppose) but NTFS settings was not shown to my user,
    I edited Word and Office NTFS security settings (change owner to current user, give fulle control of the current user on folder and all child folders/files), worked immediately.

    The 2 folders are
    C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.MSO
    C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word

  2. User is on Windows 10 64-bit + Office 365 32-bit which appears to be the combination causing the problem. Switching to 64-bit Office is not an option for other compatibility reasons.

    Have not found a solution, but a workaround is to open MS Word first with a blank doc, then browse for the doc you are actually looking to open and double-click to open. No error this way.

    User is not particularly happy that they have to change their way of doing things, but what can you do…

  3. I use Windows10 64bit + Office2019 32bit and none of the mentioned solutions worked for me (except installing office 64 bit but that leads to other problems).

    I have however found a different solution: Create a new folder on a different drive (for example D:\Cache) and reset the the register path mentioned above to this folder. Problems solved.

  4. Hi Bas,

    My name is Bas T. (funny, hah?) and I was experiencing the same issue.

    None of the solutions on the tutorial worked for me.

    Later on I noticed that the error message is thrown if the Windows explorer previsualisation panel is activated.

    That was a new Google search query…

    So, the solution is to install Office x64 version if your current version is x32.

    Cheers

  5. I think the answer from Microsoft showed a mistake;
    It should be create a folder INetCache if don’t existed within it another folder call Content.Word .
    This could be verify with an non issue PC these folders existed.
    Thanks,

    1. This works for me!!
      Try this
      Open CMD as Admin
      type the below command
      chkdsk /f /r /x

      Restart the system and let the ckhdsk complete its task.

  6. Thank you ! This one worked for me.

    Search for the key below. You can also copy/paste this if you’re using Windows 10.
    Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders
    See if the location for Cache is:
    %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache
    If it’s not, please copy paste the location in the key.

  7. Too much information. Not clear what you are actually suggesting to try. Also, I am not familiar with some of the technical terms.

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