Troubleshooting Wordfast Classic

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Note: the Wordfast Knowledge Base, accessible from has more searchable contents.

I installed Wordfast but I don't see the toolbar

  • Press Ctrl+Alt+W.
  • If no document is open, open a document.
  • If the View/Toolbars menu has a "Wordfast" item, click it. Otherwise, use the Tools/Templates & AddIns... menu to Add the (dot, not doc) template to your list of templates.
  • See Wordfast refuses to start.

Some, or all shortcuts, do not respond any more

The major causes are:

  1. A problem with permanent shortcuts assignments. Use Ms-Word's View menu, then "Toolbars/Customise/Keyboard/Reset all" to reset your shortcuts to default values.
  2. Another template (see Tools/Templates & Add-ins) is active and uses the same shortcut you're trying to use. Possible add-ons include ABBYY fine reader, PDF Writer, and a few others. Try disabling those concurrent add-ons in Ms-Word's Tools/Templates & Add-Ons dialog box, then reset shortcuts as explained in point 1 above, to see if your shortcuts are available again.
  3. Another application uses the same shortcut, and that application is active in the background. If that is the case, you must make a choice as to which application should use which shortcuts.
  4. A system utility (like a virtual screen driver) uses the same shortcut. Intel graphic cards, and other brands, use shortcuts such as Ctrl+Alt+left/right to rotate the screen (the screen may not rotate because no external monitor is detected, but the graphic driver still hijacks the shortcuts). This can be verified by right-clicking in an empty zone of your desktop and choosing Properties or Graphic properties (or starting the system's Control Panel, then Display), clicking on the "Advanced" button. Every graphic card designer has its own user interface; just look at the various tabs or submenus, trying to locate the one that sets up keyboard shortcuts that drive the graphic options, and disable them.
  5. Many translators have multiple keyboards (usually, the language code is visible in the taskbar like this: The language code.png ), and the system uses an Alt combination to toggle keyboards. If that is the case, in Windows, use the Control panel, then "Keyboard", then look at the shortcuts used to change keyboard: turn them off (this is recommended since keyboards are better changed with the mouse, willingly) or adapt them. Keyboard-changing shortcuts that work in combination with the Alt key interfere with Wordfast. You can also right-click the The language code.png icon in the taskbar, choose "Properties" to access keyboard settings and disable the Alt-based shortcuts.. On some systems, this setting could be in the Control Panel's "Regional options".

If you tried all methods described above and shortcuts are not functional, exit Ms-Word, search for, then rename all files to Normal.old and restart Ms-Word.

With Word 2002.2003, the first key I type when a segment opens does not respond See the "FirstKeyControl"command in Pandora's Box section.

My keyboard keeps changing (shifts from one language to another)

See the previous point on shortcuts, list item 4.

If the first key you type when a segment opens does not respond, see the previous item.

I can't type special, or accented, characters any more

Same as above.

My Antivirus says Wordfast is, or contains, a virus

See the relevant section on macro viruses in the Glossary of terms used in the manual section.

Ms-Word 97

One known bug, documented by Microsoft at;EN-US;q162349 is that, if the document has graphics that were pasted into it (as it is often the case with screenshots), Ms-Word97 may not have the resources needed to display them, and the graphics could be changed into empty boxes containing a red cross. All subsequent efforts to restore the graphics will fail.

This is likely to happen if the document was created, or manipulated, with a non-SR1 Ms-Word97 (SR-1 being a bug fix, or patch, distributed by Microsoft - see Microsoft, not Wordfast, support). Furthermore, having the "Allow fast save" option checked in Tools/Options/Save aggravates the situation.

I recommend turning off "Allow fast save" (and do frequent manual saves using Ctrl-S) with Ms-Word97, because this feature is known to drain resources and create problems.

Microsoft Outlook

Some versions of Outlook can be a problem if they are set to use Ms-Word as email editor. If this is the case, uncheck the "Protect delimiters..." checkbox in Wordfast/Setup/Segments. Then, in Ms-Word, use View/Toolbars/Customize/Keyboard/Reset all to reset shortcuts. Close Ms-Word and Outlook and try again. If this does not solve the problem, you may have to either not use Wordfast and Outlook at the same time, or use Outlook's HTML-mode edition (not Ms-Word as an email editor), which offers most of the facilities provided by Ms-Word.

The main Wordfast setup window does not display any text

Make sure the Tahoma font is available in your system. Normally, when Ms-Word is installed, the Tahoma font is automatically added to your system by Microsoft.

I see lots of blue, or red, text with a line through in the middle

Turn off the revision ("Track changes") mode. Remove the protection, if there is one (Tools/Remove protection) before translation. Normally, documents in revision or "Track changes" mode should not be translated with a CAT tool until this mode is turned off.

Wordfast (not Ms-Word) says "Sorry, this file is read-only"

This means your translation memory (not your document) has a read-only attribute. This usually happens if the TM was intentionally read-protected, or if the TM comes from a CD-ROM. With your disc explorer, right-click the file, click Property (with a Mac, use Option+i) and uncheck the read-only checkbox.

Also, on some recent systems, certain folders are write-protected. Make sure your TM is not located in an Ms-Office folder, or in any system folder. Create a folder for translation memories.

Do not confuse this message with Ms-Word warning you that a document is in read-only mode.

Erratic behaviour during translation sessions

Some Pandora's box commands need to be turned off after use, like "BetterMatch=Write", "Skip" commands etc, because they may produce unwanted results on documents other than the ones for which they were set. The same consideration applies to macros: turn them off when they're no longer needed. If you never used Pandora's box commands however, there is no need to check this point.

Remember that some options set in Tools/Options and Tools/Autocorrect may also cause erratic behaviour (such as replacing quotes, changing text automatically etc).

Make sure some of Wordfast's shortcuts are not hijacked by another template.

If the first key you type when a segment opens does not respond, see the "FirstKeyControl" command in Pandora's Box section.

See the point on invalid or corrupted See the point on multiple keyboards.

My keyboard keeps changing

  • See the point on multiple keyboards.
  • Make sure you are not on "Automatic language recognition". This option can create problems and make Ms-Word "panic" during translation. Use Ms-Word's Tools/Language menu to make sure.

"Ms-Word does not look the same", or "After a translation session, Ms-Word displays paragraph marks or field codes or a strange font, or pictures are not displayed etc."

During translation, Wordfast has to modify some display options in order to function properly. When a translation session ends, your previous display setup should normally be restored. If this is not the case, don't panic - just click Ms-Word's Tools menu, then Options (Edit/Preferences in some Mac versions), click the View tab and check/uncheck the necessary options to restore your usual display setup. Get acquainted with the "Options" dialog box and the various View settings.

You may also have to use Ms-Word's View menu and change from/into the "Page" view.

Ill-behaved documents

  1. Some customers send documents that were originally attached to a template (this can be checked by opening the document, then using the Tools/Templates & Add-Ins menu and looking at the top textbox). If a reference is made to a template that is not present in your hard disc, expect trouble. Contact your customer. Deleting the reference to a non-existent template will usually solve the problem, but should be done with the customer's consent and knowledge, so that the template attachment can later be restored.
  2. If the Ms-Word document has many fields (Tools/Options/View/Field codes or Alt+F9 can be used to display field codes) that refer to non-existent graphics, indexes, links etc, you can have erratic document behaviour. If your customer cannot provide you with the referenced objects, make sure that Tools/Options/General does not require Ms-Word to update links when opening the document.
  3. Large RTF files with complex layout and/or fields, which were created with a different software, or even with just another version of Ms-Word, can behave strangely and cause Ms-Word to crash. In desperate cases, try importing a problem document into a new, empty document, (using copy-paste or Insert/file), with the client's consent.

Always inform the client if you have to fiddle with documents. The bottom line is that the customer should provide the translator with a clean, stable document. A good third of service calls to the Wordfast hotline are actually caused by ill-behaved documents, and another third to systems, or Ms-Word installations, that are not stable.

Ill-behaved templates

You are welcome to run Wordfast together with other templates or Ms-Word add-ins, but please understand that I cannot guarantee the reliability of such a practice. A lot of shortcut conflicts or mysterious behaviours with Ms-Word and Wordfast are simply due to the presence of other templates or Ms-Word add-ins that monopolise shortcuts.

Ms-Word templates and add-ins are programs that usually contain VBA code. There are many ways of writing VBA, some of which are not really professional, resulting in poorly engineered applications.

Microsoft has introduced a much more reliable and modern environment with the 32-bit VBA architecture of Word97 and higher versions. Unfortunately, many programmers still use antiquated techniques dating back to Ms-Dos (8-bit architecture), or Windows 3 (16-bit architecture) using, for example, absolute I/O file numbers, instead of using the FreeFile function offered by Microsoft, or WORDBASIC functions.

A document was closed with an open segment:

Try starting a session by opening the segment that was left opened. If this does not solve the problem, close the document without saving it, go to the segment that was left opened and do the following:

  1. Open the Bookmark dialog box from the Insert menu. Delete all bookmarks that begin with Wf (such as WfTU, WfSource, WfTarget etc).
  2. Delete all paragraph marks within the problem segment. As a result, the coloured backgrounds disappear. If they don't, select the paragraph then use Ctrl-Q or Format/Borders and shadings to remove backgrounds.

Make sure the delimiters (the little purple symbols) are correctly set.

Save your document and resume the translation session.

I want to service my TM, but I keep getting the message "This file is used by another process".

Most likely, the TM is being shared through a network, or in two simultaneous Ms-Word sessions, or the previous translation session was not terminated properly. Do not service a TM currently used across a network. If you're not networking, close Ms-Word. With your disc Explorer, find the folder where the translation memory is, and delete the translation memory file that has the ".net" extension - and only this file. If this does not work, reboot your system.

Terminology recognition does not work:

Run the following checklist:

  • your glossaries are text-only or Unicode text files where source and target entries (and optional comments) are separated with tabulators;
  • you glossary has been reorganised using the relevant WFC/Terminology/Glossary/Reorganise button;
  • the relevant Wordfast/Terminology/Glossary/"This glossary is active" checkbox is checked.

Slow performance or frequent "out of memory messages":

Most systems are overloaded with fonts. Many applications add unwanted fonts to your system without telling you. In Windows, see the \Windows\Fonts (or \Winnt\Fonts) folder. If you have more than 50 fonts, consider the following. Create a \Windows\Font2 folder and drag-drop into this new folder all the fonts that are found in \Windows\Fonts and that are not vital. If these fonts are later required, you can drag them back into the \Windows\Fonts (or \WinNt\Fonts) folder. Note that any font that is located in the \Windows\Font folder burdens your system, gobbling RAM and resources. There are many other ways to make sure your system is streamlined for optimal professional use, but this is beyond the scope of this manual. In any case, if your system is used for games, or intensive multimedia activities, or other purposes, especially by other people, expect trouble. You cannot use a workstation for gaming, or heavy graphical/multimedia applications, and expect it to be utterly stable with the full Microsoft Office environment.

On slower computers (less than 200 MHz and/or less than 32 Mb RAM, and/or very slow video cards), I recommend using some or all of the following methods:

  1. Turn off spell/grammar check during the translation session (make spell-check an after-translation task).
  2. Decrease the colour depth of your display to 16 or 256 colours, at least during translation sessions.
  3. Using Tools/Options, uncheck the "Paginate" option to prevent Ms-Word from constantly re-paginating your document. Work in Normal view mode, not Page or Print view.
  4. Turn off the "Autosave" function in Tools/Options or Preferences. During translation, press Ctrl+S once in a while to save your document.
  5. In extreme cases, use the Draft font option in the View tab of the Tools/Options menu in Ms-Word; in the View menu, select Normal rather than Page.
  6. With large TMs (over 50,000 TUs), reorganise the TM at least once a week with the Reorganise button in Wordfast/Translation memories/TM. Do some TM maintenance.
  7. Uncheck "Allow fast save" in Tools/Options/Save (or "Preferences" in a Mac). "Allow fast save" is known to drain resources and may cause Word to crash.
  8. Desperate cases: pre-translate (Wordfast/Tools/Tools/Translate) the document before working on it.

Bugs and Crashes

Windows 9.xx, Millenium (and 2000 to some extent), as well as Mac OS 7, 8, 9, are not "mission-critical", or bullet-proof OSs like Unix or Linux, for example. They're variations of earlier OSs that were running with late-XXth-century limited resources, over a rather primitive architecture.

All applications, but especially Ms-Word, keep robbing more RAM resources to display fonts, graphics, temporary text editing, undo information, etc as you open documents, scroll, type, edit etc. Furthermore, Ms-Word does many tasks in the background, while those OSs are not really multi-tasking.

If Ms-Word crashes while Wordfast is active: re-start your system and try the same task again with a "fresh" system. Temporarily turn off fancy system add-ons that are supposed to miraculously guard your system from crashes, boost power, enhance the desktop, defragment in the background etc. Just keep the antivirus, but temporarily turn it off for testing purposes.

In Ms-Word, turn off any template or add-in other than Wordfast (go to Tools/Templates & Add-Ins, uncheck templates and add-ins). If you can duplicate the same crash (or freezing) on a bare system, Wordfast may be the cause of the crash. In case of freezing, try pressing Ctrl+Pause (or Ctrl+Break on some keyboards), then click End if a dialog box appears. If you have the chance, try executing the same job or task with Wordfast on another computer before concluding that Wordfast is responsible for the crash.

In such a case, make sure you have the latest version of Wordfast (compare your version with the one in If the crash persists with the latest version of Wordfast, use the hotline on to let us know. We will process the report as quickly as possible.

The Windows 2000+Ms-Word 2000 (or higher versions) combination is known to be significantly more stable.

Wordfast refuses to start

This could be due to one of the following reasons:

  1. Invalid Normal.Dot. Close Ms-Word. Search for all files named "" and rename them all "Normal.old", or delete them all. If no file named "" comes up, see the point on hidden folders, then search for files again. Start Ms-Word and Wordfast again.
  2. Ms-Word installation problem. Your Ms-Word installation is not complete, although Ms-Word works fine. VBA modules could be outdated or missing. Refer to your Ms-Word manual for a proper and full installation of Ms-Word. You can also press Alt+F11 in Ms-Word to open the Visual Basic window. In the Tools menu, click the first sub-menu and make sure that the following 4 references are checked:

- Visual Basic for Applications - Ms-Word X Object library (where X can be 7 or greater) - Microsoft Forms 2.0 Object library - Microsoft Office X Object library (where X can be 7 or greater)


Use simple folder and file names for TMs and glossaries, without accented letters, spaces, punctuation, or symbols, less than 32 characters in length. This point does not concern documents, only TMs and glossaries.

Back to Wordfast Classic User Manual