Yesterday I was called out to look at a computer suddenly ‘being slow’. A few minutes of playing revealed it was pausing for 10 seconds every time I switched to Word from another window. This disappeared in Office Safe Mode, so my first thought was a rogue plugin. The Word and COM add-in lists were empty, but latter was too empty. You get to know how Microsoft UIs are constructed, and this just didn’t seem to have enough information. I decided that whatever plugin was slowing everything down had also broken the add-in list.

This threw up a bit of a problem – how do you view Office plugins from outside Office? I was struggling until I found OfficeIns. It’s a small utility that displays all installed Office plugins, and lets you enable / disable them as well as view their registry keys. Exactly what I needed. OfficeIns revealed the offending program, and disabling it solved the problem1. Took about 30 seconds once I found the utility, so I thought I’d promote it.

This didn’t actually get the COM list working again, so I’m not sure whether my initial theory was correct. The broken install could have caused confusion that disabling the plugin didn’t fix, or maybe there are other types of plugin, viewable elsewhere. They needed the computer back so I didn’t have time to investigate properly, but I’d guess it’s the former and a repair install would do the trick, should there ever be the need.

  1. well, there were actually two copies of the same plugin, one only displaying partial info. I figured the latter must be a broken install and nuked its reg keys, which fixed it []