How to Force Compatibility Mode

In Word 2007, when you choose OfficeðWord OptionsðSave, and set Save files in this format to Word 97-2003, you won’t get the “benefits” of compatibility mode until you actually save the file. This has been the source of much newsgroup discussion and frustration. Today, however, a user who had the opposite problem managed to tip us off to the existence of a solution (for him, all new documents were being created with Compatibility Mode in the title bar even before saving, the Save files in this format setting notwithstanding–indicating that what others wanted could actually be done).

The “culprit” turned out to be the CompatMode registry option setting, something which is not created by default, and whose presence in his registry is a pending mystery. I don’t know how the CompatMode option was created—I had to manually create it here—but creating it will cause Word 2007 to default to compatibility mode right from the start—even before you’ve attempted to save the file! This is a wonderful discovery! It puts Word 2007 on a par with Excel and several other Office 2007 programs. I suspect that this setting is supposed to be available through the interface, but was left out due to a programming oversight. Or, perhaps it was inserted using a Group Policy setting.

In any case…

To force compatibility mode for new document, do the following:

Find the following section in the registry:


In the right panel, right-click and choose NewðDWord (32-bit) Value.

Replace New Value #1 with CompatMode. Double-click CompatMode, and replace the 0 with a 1.

Close the registry, then start Word. With this setting in place, new documents you create will default to Compatibility Mode.

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