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Erase and install?? a few problems...

Update:10-11Source: network consolidation
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Hello. This is going to be a long one, so you might as well get a fresh cup.
A little history. I started with a G4 Powerbook (10.4.11) some number of years ago. In November of last year I got a 24" iMac. Turned it on, set it up with a new user named "swank" (the same as on on powerbook.) After this, I realized I wanted to bring my old user over from the lappy. Using migration assistant, I tried to do this. I can't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure that because there was already a user named "swank", I had to change the one I was bring in. So, I changed it to "swanks." I also made a user for my girlfriend.
So, for a long time I used m$ office 2004 on the lappy. Then I upgraded to 2008. Everything worked fine and dandy. Then I moved over to the iMac. Not so fine and dandy anymore. Word works just fine, but PP and Excel have issues with saving documents. If I email a doc to myself from school, I can open it and view it just fine.
(on edit: actually, this is not true. I'm going over the details below and realized that I can access a file from a thumb drive, etc, but not email)
BUT, if I save it afterwards or save it from the email BEFORE opening it, it disappears somewhere into the ether. I eventually found out where this "ether" place is, but that will come later. I tried to reinstall office a couple times, to no avail. So I went to the local Mac store (non-corporate) the other day and talked with one of the techs about it. He told me about some files that needed to get deleted along with the uninstall. I did that a couple times, did a repair disk from the install disk (per the techs request as well), restarted between doing everything, etc, etc. Once convinced all was clear, I reinstalled office 2008. AAAAHHHHHH. SAME THING!!!! I don't get it. I don't want to talk with m$. I tried that once. It failed.
Now I am wondering about starting ALL over from scratch. I'm not sure how to proceed from this point though. I have a time machine backup (250 gb of stuff from myself and my gf) and I have a bootcamp partion (that time machine has NOT been backing up.) So I guess my questionS are:
1. can I do an erase and install on JUST the mac partition?
2. once reinstalled, will I be able to pick and choose stuff off the time machine disk? Or do I have to simply restore completely from it (which at this point I would rather not)?
3. is step #2 a good idea (bringing in individual files, if possible)? Or will this possibly bring in the corrupted-ness that I am currently experiencing?
4. is there a way to do this without a clean install?
Details of office problem:
1. I open a document (new)
2. Type anything
3. Save
4. Right click on file name at top of window
(this is what I was referring to as the "ether." *WHY IN GOD'S NAME WOULD SOMETHING GET SAVED HERE?* Even though I specified that it get saved in "Documents"?????
5. Bang head against wall
1. I ATTEMPT to open a document saved when office worked
2. 1 of 2 things will happen:
OR
(No matter WHAT file I try to open, only the last document I made will open, AND it will be called "juan")
2. Bang head against wall
Anyway, if you've made it this far, your are brave. Maybe you have advice. Thanks for listening.
Dave
Also, now, after erasing the m$ stuff, when I open a finder window in the user "swanks", the one I mainly use, the window for "swank" shows up. You know, with all the little red circle with white line through it things on the bottom right corner of a folder?? What the heck?

The Best Answer

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Before erasing the volume and reinstalling, there are a few things you might want to try first, which are less disruptive:
1. Force Office to generate new preference files. Go to /Users/swanks/Library/Preferences. Create a folder called "Microsoft_old". Drag the folder /Users/swanks/Library/Preferences/Microsoft into the new Microsoft_old folder. Drag all files in your preferences folder which begin with "com.microsoft" in there as well. Relaunch PowerPoint and test it out. You may find it was just a wonky prefs file causing the behavior. If you aren't seeing it in any other application, this is pretty likely.
2. Test the opening/saving behavior of powerpoint in the new user account. If it is fine, then you can just move your files over from one user to the other. There are a few ways of doing this, but the simplest is probably to put everything you want into the /Users/Shared folder and change ownership to your new user account via the Get Info window or the Terminal, if you are comfortable in the command line (using chown -R is usually faster and more reliable than using the Sharing & Permissions section of the Info window, in my experience). Also, you can use your girlfriend's account to test this - does PowerPoint work as expected when she is logged in?
If a new user account behaves the same way, then you probably have deeper issues than just preference problems. At that point you may want to consider rebuilding the OS.
To answer your questions directly:
1. can I do an erase and install on JUST the mac partition?
Yes. You do not have to touch the Boot Camp partition when reinstalling Mac OS X. When booted from the install disc, you will have
2. once reinstalled, will I be able to pick and choose stuff off the time machine disk? Or do I have to simply restore completely from it (which at this point I would rather not)?
Yes. When you browse your Time Machine Backup (with the fancy space-warp background), you can select individual files/folders to restore. It will prompt you to select a location where you want to restore the files.
3. is step #2 a good idea (bringing in individual files, if possible)? Or will this possibly bring in the corrupted-ness that I am currently experiencing?
I don't think you are dealing with actual file corruption, more likely broken preferences or damaged defaults. I wouldn't be worried about bringing over any non-OS files.
4. is there a way to do this without a clean install?
See above. Those are the things I would try first, before you do a clean install.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions, post and I'll try to answer.
Message was edited by: Duncan Wright
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