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Changing the Maximum Undo Levels

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Changing the Maximum Undo Levels.

Rob asked if there is a way to change the maximum number of undo levels in Word. The short answer is, no, you can't. The reason is that you don't need to—the only thing that limits the number of undo levels in Word is the amount of resources you have in your computer. This means that the number of undo levels in Word is, for all intents and purposes, unlimited. In fact, you can run a small macro to show that this is the case. Consider this macro:

Sub TestUndo()
    For i = 1 To 10000
        ActiveDocument.Range.InsertAfter i & " "
    Next i
End Sub

It will take a few moments to run the macro, which inserts 10,000 numbers in your document, but when the macro is done, take a look at your undo stack (click on the down-arrow next to the Undo tool on the toolbar). You will notice that you can undo all 10,000 individual steps.

There are things, however, that will clear the undo stack. For instance, protecting a document for forms, executing the UndoClear method in a macro, or closing and reopening a document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1782) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Changing the Maximum Undo Levels.

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Comments for this tip:

Erik Maher    10 Mar 2014, 15:35
Thanks for the tips. This is an update for my question several years ago.

I chose to show hidden characters in Word, and what I thought was a paragraph break, because the text string split into three lines and only accepted the last "9" when I tried to paste it into Word's Find dialog box,


was actually either a (Tab), a combination of (Space) and (Tab), a combination of (Tab) and (Space), or a (Space), depending on the web browser used to snag the data, and depending on whether or not the markers were tested:







For untested genetic markers, (tab)(space) for the last untested marker

I found the best solution was:

1. To use one web browser consistently, so the data is always formatted the same way. (Firefox works best for genetic data.) Otherwise, you can search and replace all instances of (space)(tab) and (tab)(space) with (tab) to make the data consistent.

2. To stick with Notepad, which accepts hidden characters in its Find dialog box if you copy a text string containing hidden characters directly from the database and paste it into the Find dialog box. (Word's Find - More - Special can enter in those hidden characters, but using Notepad is easier.)

3. To use a free utility called Agent Ransack to search through dozens of databases at the same time. (Microsoft's built-in search tool also works, but Agent Ransack is much easier and more elegant.)


Cristi    20 Dec 2012, 21:31
Erik, have you tried using special characters available when finding with Word? Press Ctrl+F to open the "Find" dialog box. In the bottom left corner there is a button that says "More >>". Click on it and the dialog box will reveal several options. At the bottom there are two active buttons: "Format" and "Special". Click on the "Special" button and there you have all sorts of special characters you can search for. Choose "Any character" (or "Any digit" if you only look for digits), then click again and choose "Paragraph mark", then click again and choose "Any character" and so on until you have the sequence you want of characters and paragraph marks. Then you should be able to find the strings you want. But then again, working on such long document will take you forever. Try breaking it down into smaller documents.
Andrew    19 Dec 2012, 08:52

This sorta thing happens when using excel, split the document up into 1000 page documents and it will be easy to run the find and replace or upgrade your ram.
Erik    04 Nov 2012, 19:32

I hope this is not too confusing.

I need to do several find-and-replace tasks on a gigantic 16008-page genealogical document. I created this document for data-mining purposes by copying data from a public database into Notepad, and then from there into Word. (The public database does not offer any way to mine data other than to look through the database line by line, which would take me forever-and-a-day to do.) Each time I try to do find-and-replace on my 16008-page Word document, Word struggles for about 20 minutes, and then tells me that the undo feature will be disabled because there is insufficient memory. As a result, a few find-and-replace tasks that should take me a few minutes are taking me an entire day. Is there any way to completely turn off Microsoft Word's undo feature, so that my find-and-replace tasks will complete more quickly?

The reason I need to do this is because, currently, I can't data-mine the 16008-page document for Y-DNA marker patterns, because Word's Find feature doesn't accept a paragraph break in its dialog box. To remedy this, I'm finding every instance where there are two paragraph breaks, and replacing each instance with a hyphen. This will enable me, for example, to search for the genealogical Y-DNA marker pattern 9-15-16-9, which Word's Find feature accepts, rather than trying to search for


which Word's Find feature does not accept. The second sequence cannot be pasted into Word's Find dialog box; when you try to do so, only the last 9 appears in the dialog box.

If it is impossible to turn off Word's undo feature, is there another solution to my dilemma; i.e., is there a way to find a string of text that includes paragraph breaks within the string?

Thank you!

- Erik.

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