Help with 'sticky' behaviour making Word unusable

Copper Contributor

I'm wondering whether anyone can help me diagnose a problem I'm having in Word. I've had it for a couple of years but it's got worse recently and is seriously hampering my business.


My specs


1TB M2 drive (with 550GB free)
Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-9400F CPU @ 2.90GHz 2.90 GHz
16.0 GB RAM
64-bit, Windows 10 Home, version 21H1
Word O365 Version 2205 Build 15225.20204 Click-to-Run


The problem


Some documents develop a 'sticky' behaviour where it takes several seconds for any typed character to appear. The longer and more full of track changes a document is, the more likely a document is to acquire the capacity to be sticky. However, the documents I'm working on aren't particularly complex: the current problematic one is a 676KB docx with 13 graphics and 17 tables.


Any typing whatsoever in a sticky document causes my PC fans to get very loud and Word's CPU usage to spike to 'very high'. When I stop typing, the fans and CPU usage return to baseline straight away. Typing in normal (non-sticky) documents does not produce either effect.


Once a document has acquired the capacity to be sticky, it is sticky immediately whenever I open it. I can make the sticky behaviour go away if I do nothing whatsoever in the document for 10-15 minutes before I start working on it. However, this is unsustainable (I am an editor with hundreds of different Word docs in my remit on a daily basis).


Sometimes, even if I wait the 10-15 minutes, the document will subsequently suddenly become sticky (e.g. after I've been working on it for an hour or more). Once this stickiness starts, it is irrevocable and I have to restart Word (and wait the 10-15 minutes again). Sometimes even this doesn't work and I have to restart my whole PC (this especially seems to be the case if I've been working in Word for several hours, which makes me wonder whether the problem is some sort of cache-related issue).


The cause


I don't know what is the root cause, although as mentioned above it seems to be longer and more heavily tracked documents that develop this behaviour, and it also seems more likely to happen the longer I'm working on the same document.


When stickiness starts mid-session (i.e. later on after I've waited the 10-15 minutes before begininng work), I've noticed a couple of things that always/sometimes cause the sticky behaviour to suddenly start:

  • Opening any other Word document whatsoever (even if I don't interact with it at all beyond opening it) - this always causes stickiness to start in the original (sticky-prone) document
  • Pasting formatted text into the original (sticky-prone) document (e.g. from Chrome) - this sometimes causes stickiness to start


What I've tried


I have a few add-ons in Word and have tried disabling each one, to no effect.
I have also tried disabling all spelling and grammar checking, to no effect.
I have also tried cleaning direct formatting out of the document (i.e. using styles instead), to no effect.


I would be hugely grateful for any suggestions as this problem is wrecking my productivity and thus my income.


Thank you.

5 Replies
See the KnowledgeBase article "How to troubleshoot problems that occur when you start or use Word" at:
Thanks so much for the reply. I tried everything in the link and then reinstalled Office but unfortunately it didn't work.

However, I think I may have isolated the problem to a conflict with another non-Microsoft piece of software. I will continue to test and hopefully the problem won't re-emerge.

Thanks again.

@hazelwordstitch Which piece of software was that please? I have the same issue.

@PeteClifford1958 It's TextExpander. I continued to test and that was definitely the culprit. I now turn it off by default and only turn it on when I really need it. Hope this helps.

@hazelwordstitch Thanks. I don’t use that, so that can’t be my issue. I think I might have traced it to Malwarebytes taking up too much CPU.