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On my Windows 10 computer when I try to open or save a document in Word 2016 I get the following error:

Windows cannot access \\SERVER1\RedirectedFolders\<username>\Desktop

You do not have permission to access \\SERVER1\RedirectedFolders\<username>\Desktop. Contact your network administrator to request access.

And it's true; in the Save or Open dialog box I cannot navigate to my Desktop or Documents folders. Also when I close Word 2016 without saving the document it locks up and shows "not responding" in the taskbar.

In the Options > Save screen I notice that my Default local file location and Server drafts location fields are empty, which isn't the case on another Windows 10 computer I use:

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If I try to make any changes in this screen when I click OK I get the error:

The server drafts location you entered for offline editing is not valid or you do not have permission to access that location. Specify a location on your local computer.

If I click any of the Browse... buttons, for example to set the Default local file location, I get the same error as above that "Windows cannot access \\SERVER1\RedirectedFolders\<username>\Desktop" (it's always the Desktop folder mentioned).

I'm not having this problem in other programs. I can access my Desktop and Document folders just fine through File Explorer and other programs.

Why can't I access these folders in Word? How do I fix it?


Notes:

  • My Desktop and Document folders are redirected to one of our on-premise servers. They're also configured to be Available Offline.
  • I'm running Word as part of Office 2016 Professional Plus. It's an MSI-based installation.
  • I've tried a repair installation of Office, as well as uninstalling/reinstalling Office.
  • I confirmed I have Full Control permissions to the Desktop and other redirected folders.
  • Interestingly, this doesn't happen to another user account logged in to my computer (their folders are redirected too, but not available offline).
  • Something else I found is that I cannot open the Signatures dialog in Outlook's Options > Mail screen. I click, but nothing happens.
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Open the Word "Desktop" application, NOT the Word UWP app!

Unlike the traditional Desktop version of Microsoft Word, the Word UWP app cannot access your redirected folders. While I've not been able to find much information about why the Word app cannot access redirected folders, there's no confusion over the fact UWP apps have restricted file system access. The Desktop version of Word should be named Word 2016 while the UWP app will simply be named Word.

While simply being careful to open the Desktop version of Word may be sufficient, in my case, I actually had to uninstall Microsoft Office Desktop Apps in Apps & features before everything started working. In particular, I couldn't open the Signatures dialog box in Outlook's Mail settings until doing this.

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