Office 2011 applications fail to work with volumes named ‘home’

Office for Mac 2011 users may experience a problem when attempting to access documents on file shares or local hard drives simply named “home” (all lower case). This issue affects Excel, PowerPoint and Word. Outlook for Mac, which only supports locally stored identities, is not affected.

If Office users attempt to work with any connected volume such as a server file share, internal hard drive or external hard drive named “home”, they may receive error messages alluding to low memory, disk problems, permissions or problems with the path to the file. Working with a file share or disk volume such as “Home” (upper and lower case) or any other name produces no errors. Renaming a volume from “home” to something else immediately resolves the errors.

Users will receive different error messages depending on the application and how they attempt to access the “home” volume. When saving a file via the application’s File menu –> Save or Save As… command they may receive these alerts:

Excel save a new file

Microsoft Excel cannot access the file ‘home:04CE6400’.

There are several possible reasons

  • The file name or path name does not exist.
  • The file you’re trying to open is being used by another program. Close the document in the other program, and try again.
  • The name of the workbook you’re trying to save is the same as the name of another document that is read-only. Try saving the workbook with a different name.

PowerPoint save a new file

There was an error accessing /Volumes/home/test.pptx.

Word save new file

Word cannot save or create this file. The disk may be full or write-protected.

Try one or more of the following:

  • Free more memory.
  • Make sure that the disk you want to save the file on is not full, write-protected, or damaged.

When opening an existing Office document by double-clicking it in the Finder or using the application’s File menu –> Open command they may receive these alerts:

Open an Excel file

 ‘home:MySpreadsheet.xlsx’ could not be found.

Check the spelling of the file name, and verify that the file location is correct.

If you are trying to open the file from your list of most recently used files on the File menu, make sure that the file has not been renamed, moved, or deleted.

Open a PowerPoint file

There was an error accessing /Volumes/home/MyPresentation.pptx.

Open a Word file

Word cannot open this document. The document might be in use, the document might not be a valid Word document, or the file name might contain invalid characters (for example, \/).


Renaming the “home” volume is a simple workaround but may not be possible in situations where workflows are dependent on the name or where network file servers don’t allow changing the name.

Depending on how widespread it finds this issue and the level of difficulty to fix it, Microsoft may wait until the next version of Office for Mac to rectify it. Microsoft currently has no statement nor knowledge base article addressing the problem. Anyone experiencing this problem should send feedback using the Help menu –> Send Feedback tool in any Office for Mac application.

Thanks to MacEnterprise list member Pete Morris who posted a topic about these errors and shared his findings.

Update: This problem is similar to another known problem that affects Word for Mac only. Volume names beginning with the word “file” will cause Word to exhibit the same errors. For example, Word displays errors using a file server volume named “file server”. Renaming the volume to “fileserver” works around the problem.

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6 comments to Office 2011 applications fail to work with volumes named ‘home’

  • I too can confirm all these behaviors as of Office 2011 14.2.4. Only alteration/note I’d suggest is that the Excel save behavior is
    “Microsoft Excel cannot access the file ‘home:[value]′”
    As I see a different value for each Excel file I try to save to my /Volumes/home.

  • Kenny MacDonald

    We fixed this by removing the /home automount map from the /etc/auto_master file.

    • Andy Lambert

      I applied Kenny’s fix (commented out the line with /home in it) and this seems to work. I’m not a Mac guru, but am wondering if there are any other things affected by changing this line in the auto_master file?

  • Shaun

    Just set-up a new NAS and wasted a good hour on this. We created a document share named home!

    Thanks for this post, was starting to lose it!

  • Glen

    For what it is worth, I get the same errors (only tested Excel and Word) because I have a Microsoft “share” connection to SMB:///Glen and Glen is my “short name” and home directory on OS X (10.6.8). If I move my file to another smb connection, it will open fine. It is because my home folder is the same as my “Share” folder. Finder has no problem with it, nor does Acrobat or Preview with opening .pdf files. I can drag a .docx file to the desktop and it opens fine, of course. Further, if I copy a .doc file to my home folder (Glen), then I can open the same named .docx file from my network share folder!! I don’t expect a solution from you; just sharing further frustration. Has there been any further word from Microsoft?