The graphics in my document have turned into red X's!

Article contributed by Suzanne S. Barnhill and Dave Rado

If you're using Word 97 (original release)

In Word 97 especially, when you open a document that contains graphics, some of the graphics may be displayed as partial or whole red X's.

This problem occurs most often with inserted bitmap (.bmp) files or pasted graphics but may also occur with other formats. Word uses either a red X or a general picture (a circle, square, and triangle) to represent any graphic or picture it cannot display.

Word will not be able to display corrupted or damaged graphics or may lose picture data in low-memory or low-resource situations. If you have less than 20 MB free on your hard drive, this may be the source of the problem.

More likely, however, the problem is the result of a bug in the original Word 97 release, which was corrected by SR-1. Obtaining and installing SR-1 will not solve the problem once it has occurred (you'll still have to reinsert the original graphics), but it will prevent it from recurring.

For information about obtaining and installing service releases SR-1 and SR-2, see http://officeupdate.microsoft.com/Articles/sr2fact.htm . For more information about the Word 97 red X problem, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article Q162349, WD97: Picture Displayed as Red 'X' in Document.

If you're using later versions of Word

If you already have Word 97 SR2, or if you have Word 2000, and still get the problem, it is most likely to be due to saving the document when you were very low on system resources.  You might occasionally be able to recover some of the graphics by right-clicking them and selecting Edit, but usually not.

To reduce the chances of this happening, it is best to:

  1. Have as few applications open as possible when working with long documents and/or documents containing a large number of graphics.
  2. Make sure Fast Save (which should really be called Fast Corrupt!) is turned off (under Tools + Options + Save).
  3. Save your document frequently, especially if editing graphics or Word drawing objects.
  4. If you notice Word starting to slow down, quit Word immediately and go back in, to free up resources.
  5. Delete your temporary files regularly, and always delete them immediately after a system crash or if Word crashes (in Windows Explorer, press Ctrl+F and search for ~*.*).
  6. Back up your files regularly.