400 Can’t open a file? Print it anyway

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What happens when you need to see the content in a document, but it won’t open? In many cases, you can still print it.

MS Word


This process applies to Word documents, but also to any other type of document – a NotePad text document, Excel spreadsheet, etc.

A client called me recently because his computer was not working properly at all. It booted up, and he could see his list of files in the Documents folder, but programs such as Word would not open. This was a classic case of a failing hard drive. Thankfully, since he’s a long-time client of mine, he had already set up a mostly automated backup. So after we replace the hard drive with a new one, he would still have all of his files.

The problem was, he had an important meeting the next day, and he needed the contents of one of those documents. It was a Word document. The file looked intact, but the Microsoft Word program would not open. So how could we access that content?

The other wrinkle in this particular case is that the client is an elderly gentleman, and he was unable to leave his apartment. I couldn’t remote in to the computer, because the remote access software would also not open.

So, one solution was that I could copy the Word document to a flash drive, take it back to my home office, open it on my computer, print it, and bring the printed copy back to the client so he would be able to have it for his meeting. Kind of cumbersome and inconvenient, but it would work.

But there was another much more ideal solution.

When you go to your Documents folder, you can see all of your files listed there. All you have to do is a RIGHT click on the file name, and in the sub-menu, click on Print:

print without opening


I wasn’t sure if this would work in my client’s situation, since some programs weren’t working properly. We didn’t need MS Word to open in this case, but the printer software still needed to function in order to print. But we were lucky – when I chose to print that document, the printer fired up and began sending out the printed pages (32 pages in all – it was a big document).

If you need to print something, this is actually a reasonable action you might take even if Word DOES open and run properly. Why take the extra time to open the document if you don’t really need to? Just print what you need with a quick right click.


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