Your Word documents are stored in files, so understanding how to maintain them is crucial. The following articles explore everything from the basics of file naming to problems you may run into with file conversion and transferring. Organize your documents into manageable files on your computer easily with these tips.

Tips, Tricks, and Answers

The following articles are available for the 'Files' topic. Click the article''s title (shown in bold) to see the associated article.

   A Real AutoSave
When you enable AutoSave in Word, it doesn't really save your document; it just saves a temporary file that allows your document to be recovered if the program should end unexpectedly. If you want to really save your document periodically, you need to develop your own macro-based system, as described in this tip.

   An Automatic File Name
Do you have a set "standard" for how you name new documents? If so, you may be interested in implementing the technique in this tip for automatically naming your new documents according to the standard you follow.

   Appending to a Non-Document Text File
Your macros can easily add information to the end of an existing text file. This is done by opening the target file in Append mode, as described in this tip.

   Automatically Saving Document Copies on Floppy
WordPerfect included a command that allowed users to save a copy of their current document to the A: drive. Word has no similar command, but you can create your own that allows you to save document copies to any drive you want.

   Avoiding the Update Links Message
Word allows you to establish links from one document to another. When you open a document containing these links, you may be asked if you want to update those links. If this message bothers you, this tip explains what you can do about it.

   Backing Up Your Custom Dictionaries
When you work with the spelling checker quite a bit, you eventually end up with a sizeable custom dictionary. You might want to back up that dictionary for some reason, but not know where to find it. Here's what you need to do.

   Blocking the First Sentence from File Info
When you save a file, the information from the start of the file is saved in the properties for the document, and can be seen with very little trouble. If you want to hide this information from prying eyes, here's how to do it.

   Can't Get Rid of Unwanted Recovery File
Sometimes Word can get confused, and it may think that it needs to recover files that you are sure no longer exist. If you are tired of the confusion and you don't want Word to suggest recovering files that really shouldn't be there, then try some of the techniques discussed in this tip.

   Can't Open a Word Document in Windows
Double-click on a Word document while using Windows Explorer, and the Word program should start with the document displayed. If it doesn't, then something in either Word or, more likely, Windows is out of kilter. This tip leads you through the different configuration areas you can check in order to track down and fix the problem.

   Can't Save Edited Document
Each day of using Word is filled with opening documents, editing them, and then saving those changes to disk. So it can be frustrating if Word doesn't allow you to save your edited documents. Here's some things you can try to get back the capability.

   Can't Use AutoRecover with a Document
Having trouble getting Word to save your AutoRecover documents? Don't turn the feature off; try the techniques described in this tip to make sure that the AutoRecover documents are saved with no problems.

   Cannot Convert a Document File to a Readable Document
Open a Word document file, and you can start to make edits and changes to your heart's content. But what happens if the file opens with gibberish at the start? This tip examines a possible cause or two for such a scenario.

   Cannot Open Multiple Word Documents
What are you to do if you try to open a document and Word automatically closes your previous document? Word is not supposed to act this way, and it can be frustrating. Here are some ideas on how you can track down the problem.

   Changing Information in Multiple Documents
If you need to change text in many documents at the same time, Word isn't the best tool to use. Here's some ideas on ways you can increase your ability to make global changes.

   Changing the Default File Name
When you first save a new file, Word bases the name of that file on the contents of the start of the first paragraph in your document. If you'd like a different default name for a file, you just need to make a simple change in the template on which the file is based.

   Changing the Startup Directory
When you start Word, it makes an assumption about where your documents are stored. If you want to force Word to change that assumption, you can follow the steps in this tip.

   Combining Documents
Need to combine quite a few text documents? A macro may be the easiest way to stuff them all into a single Word document.

   Combining Word Documents
At some point you may want to insert one Word document inside another Word document. An easy way to do this is to use the INCLUDETEXT field, described in this tip.

   Complex Searches for Documents
When working with lots of documents, you may have need from time to time to discover which of those documents contain some specific bit of text. Finding the documents within Word can be difficult, so the answer to your searching needs may rest with a third-party utility.

   Confirming File Conversions
Open a file that isn't a Word document and Word will still try to convert it to a Word document. If you want Word to let you know when it is going to do these conversions, here's how to specify that.

   Controlling Document Properties
Word keeps track of quite a bit of document-related information that it refers to as "properties." Here's how to control those properties and make changes in them.

   Controlling Names of Backup Files
Want to control the name and location of your document backup? Here are some ideas that may help.

   Copying a File in VBA
Need to have your macro copy a file from one place to another? It's easy to do using the FileCopy command, described in this tip.

   Copying Custom Properties
You can add custom properties to a document to help with all sorts of file management tasks. If you want to copy these custom properties from one document to another, you'll need to rely on a macro like the one presented in this tip.

   Creating a Document Clone
If you need to work with a copy of a document rather than the original document, you can use Word's Open dialog box to specify that need. Here's how.

   Creating Multiple Blank Documents in One Step
Word makes it easy to create a new, blank document. What if you want to create more than one document at a time, however? Here are some ideas you can use.

   Creating Two Versions of the Same Document
You may often need to create two versions of the same document, one with everything and the other with a subset of what is found in the other document. Word provides several tools you can use to help meet this need.

   Dates Updating when Converting
Word allows you to convert documents from WordPerfect format to Word. In doing so, you may notice that some dates in the original documents are updated. This tip discusses some possible causes and what you can do about it.

   Delays when Double-Clicking a Document Icon
Do you notice delays when you double-click a document icon, perhaps on your desktop? If you are confused by such delays because you don't see the same delay when you open the document from within Word, then the explanations in this tip will be helpful.

   Deleting the Open Document File
Want to delete the document you are currently viewing? Word doesn't provide a way to do it, but you can use the macro in this tip to make the task easy as pie.

   Determining if a Document is Corrupt
Think you might have a corrupt document? There is no easy way to tell if this is the case, but there are some things you can do to try to fix the document.

   Determining if a File Exists
Your macro may need to know if a particular file exists. This is easy to figure out using the Dir command, and even easier if you use it in the function provided in this tip.

   Determining If the End of a Text File Has Been Reached
When writing a macro that processes a text file, you may need to know when the end of the file has been reached. This is easy to do with the EOF function, described in this tip.

   Determining the Length of a Non-Document Text File
If you use a macro to create and work with text files, you can find out the length of those files using a simple command. This tip explains how to use the LOF command to get the info you need.

   Determining the Size of a File
When processing a document using a macro, you may need to know the precise size of a particular file. The way you figure this out is to use the FileLen function, described in this tip.

   Determining Word Versions of Documents
If you know where to look, you can figure out which version of Word was last used to work on a document. It takes some detective work, however, as this tip explains.

   Displaying Path Names in the Menu Bar
Want the full path name for a document visible on the screen? Easily add it to a menu bar.

   Document Shows as 'In Use' by Another User
Word tries to constantly track who is using various documents, in order to prevent two users from clashing in their edits to a single document. What if Word reports that a document is being used by someone else when you know that it isn't? Here's how to get back control of the document with a minimum of fuss.

   Document Size Changes
When you last upgraded Word, did you notice a change in the size of your document files?

   Documents Opening in the Wrong Program
Double-click a Word document on your desktop, and you expect Word to spring into action and load the document. What if doing the double-clicking opens a program other than Word? Here's how to get Word to recognize the documents you want to open.

   Dynamic Path and Filename in a Footer
You can easily place a path and filename in the footer of your document. What do you do if it appears that these elements don't reflect the real name of the saved file? Perhaps it could be simply because the fields used have not been updated.

   Embedding Fonts in a Document
Fonts are essential to getting your text to look just the way you want it to look. If you have a font that you use in a document and that font isn't available on another person's system, then you need to figure out a way to let them see what you are seeing. The answer may be to embed the fonts right in the document.

   Embedding TrueType Fonts
If you need to make sure that the fonts in your document can be used by another person or on a different system, you'll need to embed those fonts. Here's how to make the necessary configuration change.

   Embedding TrueType Fonts by Default
If you use TrueType fonts frequently, you might want to set Word to embed those fonts by default. Here's how to do it.

   Error Message about WRS File
Error messages in Word can be frustrating. For instance, if you see a message that says something about WRS files, it can be confusing exactly what is going on. If these errors crop up on your system, here are some ideas on how to solve the problem.

   Extra Document File Being Saved
You may be surprised sometime to save a document and find out that Word actually saves what appear to be two copies of the document on your disk. This isn't necessarily a problem, but a way for Word to track what is going on with the document on which you are working.

   File Sizes in Word
The size of files created by Word depends on the version of the program you are using. Here's an analysis of the minimum sizes of document files created by those different versions.

   Files Open in Word 2003, but not Word 2000
If you have some documents that open in Word 2003, but not in Word 2000, it may mean that you are running into some strange type of incompatibility that is present in Word 2003 documents. This doesn't happen with all files, but when it does happen you will need the techniques described in this tip in order to actually work with the documents in Word 2000.

   Files Opening Slowly If Many Files Exist
Managing large numbers of documents in Word can lead to some interesting challenges. One potential challenge is that your documents open slower if you have lots of them in a directory. Here are some ways you can determine the cause of the slowdown.

   Formatting Text Files with VBA
Got a bunch of text that you've imported from a text file? Need to make it look better? You can take a stab at it with this macro.

   Formatting Text in Custom Document Properties
Word allows you to create custom document properties that stay with a document and can be inserted through the use of fields. Formatting characters in those properties is not something you can easily do, however.

   Full Path Names in Word
An easy way to display the document's full path name in the title bar.

   Getting Input from a Text File
VBA includes some commands that you can use to read information from text files (non-Word documents). These commands can come in handy when you need to access a wide variety of information. This tip presents a very simple technique to use these commands and read information from a text file.

   Getting Rid of Hidden Text in Many Files
Hidden text is a great boon if you want to make sure something doesn't show up on the screen or on a printout. If you want to get rid of that hidden text before you pass your document on to someone else, here's some techniques you can use.

   Getting Rid of the Startup Document
When you start Word, it opens a blank document, ready for you to start typing within. If you don't want this blank document to appear, you can use the /n switch with the command line used to start Word.

   Importing a Text File and Inserting after a Bookmark
Word macros are a great way to automate some of the ways in which you create documents. If you have a need to insert the contents of a file within the current document, on a regular basis, then a macro can be a great help. Here are some ideas on how to approach the problem.

   Inserting a File
Need to combine several files into a single document? You can do it by inserting one file into another, as outlined in this tip.

   Inserting a File Name without an Extension
Sometimes you might like to insert a file name into your document without including the file extension. The FILENAME field does not have an option to do this. Here are a couple of workarounds that allow you to insert the file name this way.

   Inserting Only Part of a File
You can easily insert one document within another document. What you may not know is that you can limit which part of a document you actually insert.

   Inserting the Date Your Document was Last Saved
Word keeps track of the date each time you save your document. If you want to insert that "save date" in your document, you can use a field to do it.

   Jumping Around Folders
If you need to move between two different folders quite regularly in the Open dialog box, you'll find the technique described in this tip to be helpful. It allows you to jump right to the folder you need without the need to go through tiresome navigation steps.

   Keeping the Flash Drive Occupied
Working on a document stored on a flash drive can have some unintended consequences. Here's some help in understanding how Word affects these types of drives.

   Last Document Saves Not Saved
Click the Save button and you expect your document to be saved, right? What if you later discover it wasn't really saved? There could be a few snafus at play in such a situation, as addressed in this tip.

   Leading Spaces in Document File Names
If you try to add spaces to the beginning of a document's file name, Word normally strips them away. This tip examines two ways you can add those spaces back to the beginning of your file names.

   Limiting Directories in the FILENAME Field
When you use the FILENAME field in a document, it can include the full path name that leads to your file. This might be too long for your needs, however. Here's a way you can limit what directories are shown in the path.

   Limits on Path Length in Word
When you organize your hard drive, it is easy to go hog-wild with folders and subfolders. You need to know that how you create that folder structure can affect your ability to reference any documents within those folders. Here's an explanation that may affect your thinking.

   Linking Word Documents
Want to add one document to another document? You can do it by adding links, described in this tip.

   Listing Documents with Passwords
Do you need a list of documents that require a password or that require a particular password to open? Word doesn't provide a way to retrieve such information, but you could do it with a macro. This tip describes the approach that should be used if you decide to develop such a macro.

   Maintaining Formatting when Inserting Documents
Word allows you to easily insert the contents of one document into another. Doing so, however, may result in unintended results as the formatting of what you insert may look nothing like the original document. Here's why that happens and what you can do about it.

   Making Backup Copies
When you save your documents, Word doesn't normally make backups of your files. If you want the program to do that, it takes a quick configuration change, as described in this tip.

   Marking Multiple Documents
After using Word for a while, it is easy to accumulate quite a few documents. At some point you may want to make a change to each of the documents in a folder. This tip explains the basics of how to easily make such a change, without the need to manually open and edit each document.

   Mass Search and Replace
If you need to change information in dozens or even hundreds of documents, the task can seem insurmountable. Here's a way you can let a macro do the work of making changes in any number of documents you may have.

   Merging to Individual Files
The mail-merge feature in Word is a fast, easy way to create form letters addressed to many different people. Sometimes, however, you might need to save the resulting documents into separate files for each address. Here's how.

   Modifying the Backup Copy File Name
Backup files, created automatically by Word, have the filename extension WBK and start with the words "Backup of." If you want to change this naming convention, you may be out of luck, but you can always rename the files outside of Word.

   Moving Quickly Between Directories
Want an easy way to move between directories using the Open dialog box? With just a little bit of up-front typing, you can easily move between several of your most commonly used folders.

   MS-DOS with Line Breaks Format in Word 2002 and Word 2003
Finding the built in functionality in Word 2002 & 2003 for saving your document as a MS-DOS format.

   Noticeable Delays when Switching Documents
Do you notice a certain "slowness" that occurs when you switch between document windows in Word? There could be any number of reasons for this slowness, as discussed in this tip.

   Open Documents Suddenly Become Read-Only
If a Word document is marked as "read only," that means that you cannot save updates to the document; they must be saved to a new document file. Once a file is open, Word isn't supposed to change whether a file is read-only or not—but what if it does? This tip discusses one possible explanation.

   Opening a Backup File
If you have Word configured to save backup copies of your document, you may want to actually load one of those copies at some point. Here's the easy way to load the file.

   Opening a Document as Read-Only
Afraid of messing up an existing document by some changes you are considering? Consider opening the document as read-only, so that any changes need to be saved in a brand new document.

   Opening a Document as Read-Only in Windows Explorer
Want to open your Word document as read-only? Here's a little trick to help you accomplish the task from within Explorer.

   Opening a Text File and Template from the Command Line
Word includes a command-line syntax that you can use to open files and do other operations. If you want to load a text file from the command line and have Word use a specific template with that file, you might have a hard time getting it done. If you apply the techniques in this tip, you can get just what you want.

   Opening a Word Document when Starting the Computer
Some people use their computers for little else, other than to work on Word documents. If that is the case with you, then you might want to have Word start up, with a particular document open, whenever you start your computer. This tip can help you make opening Word in this way a simple task.

   Opening Documents in Print Layout View
If you have a Word 2003 document that always seems to open in reading layout mode, you may want to turn that "feature" off. You can do so by following the steps outlined in this tip.

   Opening Multiple Documents at Once
Word's Open dialog box provides many of the same file management functions as Windows Explorer does. One of the functions is opening more than one document at once.

   Opening Only a Merge Document
After merging the information from a data source into a document, you may decide that you only want to open the merge document from that point on. This tip explains how Word treats the files involved in a mail merge.

   Opening Word 2007 Files in Older Versions
Word 2007 uses a different file format than was used in previous versions of Word. This can cause some problems in opening Word 2007 documents in those earlier versions. Here's what you can do to get around this problem.

   Password Protection Loophole
Make sure your current and backup files are protected. Follow these steps to ensure the protection.

   Periodically Delete TMP Files
After using Word for a while, you may notice some "litter" of unused files on your hard drive. This tip explains how those files came to be there and when it is safe to delete them.

   Picking Up in the Last Document Edited
Sometimes it seems that we focus on getting a particular document hammered out to the exclusion of other documents we could be working with. Here's how you can speed up the process of loading the last document you worked on and jumping to the proper place in that file.

   Positioning the Cursor in a New Document
Creating special templates is a great way to establish "standards" for your documents. With a little ingenuity you can even force the insertion point to a set location in a new document created from your templates. This tip shows how easy this is to accomplish.

   Printing a File List
It is often helpful to have a list of all the documents in a given directory or folder. Word doesn't have a built-in way to generate such a list, but there are a couple of ways you can get the desired information.

   Printing Documents in a Folder
If you want to print a group of documents at the same time there are a couple of ways you can accomplish the task. Here are two easy ones you can use.

   Printing to a File
Word allows you to send your output to a file instead of to a printer. This tip shows you how.

   Problems Opening Documents from Explorer
Windows Explorer is a great way to browse through the files available on your system. If you see a document file you want to open in Word, you can normally double-click the file. If that doesn't work, then you'll want to try the technique described here.

   Read-Only Documents
Using both Word and Windows, there are a variety of ways you can mark a file as read-only so that it cannot be changed. This tip discusses the different techniques you can use.

   Read-Only Documents without a Password
Want to protect your document so it cannot be changed? There are a couple of ways you can do it, and not all of them involve the use of Word.

   Read-Only Files
Read-only documents (those that cannot be updated) are part and parcel of working with Word. There are many ways that a document file can be made "read only," and not all of them are expected.

   Recovered Document becomes Default
Word has a feature called AutoRecover that helps you when Word or Windows crashes. If your Normal template gets messed up for some reason by a recovered document, you may long for a way to get things back to the way they were. Here's some ideas to help.

   Removing All File Properties
Want to get rid of any properties you've created for a document? You can do so by using the short macro described in this tip.

   Removing Hidden Personal Information From a Document
Word maintains a few pieces of personal information with each document file you save. Getting rid of this information can be a pain, unless you use the configuration setting that helps remove the information for you.

   Removing Pictures from Multiple Files
Working with a single document is easy. Working with thousands of documents becomes much harder. If you need to get rid of pictures in a particular area of many, many documents, you'll appreciate the macro in this tip.

   Renaming a Document
Want to rename a document that is already on your hard drive? You can, of course, do it in Windows, but you can also do it in Word itself by using the Open dialog box. This tip explains the process you can use.

   Reviewing Document Versions
If you save different versions of your document using the versioning feature of Word, you'll want to know how you can go back and review the different versions you've saved. This tip illustrates how easy it is to open up a previous version of a document.

   Rubbish In Your File
Do your files look garbled when you open them? Here's one possible reason.

   Saving All Open Documents
Got a lot of open documents you are working with? You can save them all at one time by just holding down the Shift key while displaying the File menu. A couple of the menu options change to allow you to perform functions on all the open documents.

   Saving and Closing All Open Documents
Want to close or save all your documents at the same time? This trick does it for you.

   Saving Document Versions
Documents often go through several versions during development. For this reason, Word provides a feature that allows you to save each version of a document so you can track that development. This tip explains how to use this feature.

   Saving Documents as Read-Only by Default
When you save your documents, you can specify that they be saved in a "read-only" format so that they cannot be changed as easily. This tip explains how you can modify the Save As command so that documents are saved as read-only by default.

   Saving Documents Faster
If you are using Word versions 97 through 2003, there's a setting you can make that will allow you to save your documents quickly. This can cause some problems, however, of which you should be aware.

   Saving Everything
Need to force users to save their work? It may be as simple as implementing a couple of macros that get a bit more aggressive when it comes to saving. It could, however, have something to do with training users.

   Saving Form Data for a Database
Use Word to create a form, and you can easily collect standardized data from a large number of users. When it comes time to get that data into a different program (such as a database program), then you'll need the info in this tip.

   Saving in MS-DOS Text Mode
Over the years Microsoft has made changes in Word. One change is to the import and export filters provided with the various versions of Word. This tip discusses one apparent change in export filters between Word 97 and Word 2002 and what can be done about getting more filters.

   Saving in PostScript Format
Word can save your document in PostScript format so that it can be easily processed by other programs that work with PostScript. To get the PostScript file, you simply print using a PostScript printer driver.

   Saving Information in a Non-Document Text File
Need to store some information in a plain text file? It's easy to do when you use a macro.

   Saving Personalized Copies of a Document
Need a series of documents that include an individual's name or a company name? Here's a handy little macro that will make short work of this need.

   Saving Portions of Files
Want to save snippets from a document into individual files? There are a couple of easy ways to achieve this goal, as described in this tip.

   Saving Your Work Automatically
Word can be configured to save your work periodically, on any time schedule you desire. This tip explains this feature and shows you how to do the necessary configuration.

   Setting a Default Document Format
Word allows you to save your documents in a variety of different formats. You can specify the format when you actually save, or you can change the default format, as described in this tip.

   Setting a Document Naming Convention
Want your document file names to follow a specific naming convention? Word doesn't provide a direct way to set up your own convention, but you can use a macro or two to help in this area.

   Setting the AutoRecover Directory
When you are using Word, it normally saves temporary AutoRecover files that reflect the latest state of your document. If you want these AutoRecover files to be stored in a certain place, you can configure Word to make that specification.

   Size Limit for Documents
Word can handle large documents, but how large is large? This tip examines the issue and provides some advice on how comfortable you can feel with your large documents.

   Sizing the Preview Pane
Some versions of Word allow you to resize your Preview Pane, others do not. Here is how to make your view larger.

   Specifying a Backup Location
Backup files created by Word are stored in the same folder in which the document is located. If you want them stored in a different area, there is no way to do through some Word setting. You can, however, develop some workarounds, as described in this tip.

   Specifying a Location To Save Automatic Backup Files
When Word creates automatic backups of your documents, you may not like where Word stores them. This naturally leads to the question of where the files can be stored, as addressed in this tip.

   Starting with a Different Template
Don't want Word to start by using the template? This tip explains how to start using a different template.

   The Case of the Disappearing MRU File List
If the MRU list has disappeared, follow this tip to reactivate the list in Word.

   Too Many Temporary Files
Word, as it operates, creates lots of temporary files on your system. Here are some ideas for dealing with that plethora of files.

   Turning Off HTML Conversions
Don't want Word to load up your HTML documents as formatted text? There are a couple of ways you can instruct Word to be more discerning when it opens these types of documents.

   Understanding Background Saving
Word has the capability to save your work, in the background, while you continue to edit your documents. This tip explains that capability and shows how you can turn it on or off.

   Use Filenames That Sort Properly
If you take some care when you name your document files, you'll find it much easier to manage those files at a later time. This tip provides some guidance that you may find helpful as you consider how you should name your files.

   Using a Standard Format in a Suggested File Name
Many companies (and some individuals) use specific formats for naming their documents. If you want Word to recognize your particular format, here are some ideas you can use.

   Using Header Information as the Filename
Save a document for the first time, and Word helpfully suggests a filename you can use or change. If you want this suggested filename to come from a particular place in your document (such as a header), you may be out of luck. However, there is a workaround you can try.

   Using Seek In a Macro
When processing non-document text files in a macro, you have a wide range of commands available for your use. One of those is the Seek command, which allows you to position the internal file pointer within the text file.

   Using Your Own File Extensions
Word uses the DOC file extension for regular documents. If you want to use a different file extension, you can easily do so if you follow the guidance in this tip.

   Viewing Document Statistics
As you develop a document, Word keeps track of certain statistics about the document itself. Here is how you can review those statistics.

   Viewing Files of a Certain Type
When you choose to open a file, Word normally displays only those files that end with the .DOC extension. If you want to display files that use a different extension, you can use the information in this tip.

   Weird Characters in File Names
If you ever end up with file names that contain percent signs followed by numbers, it could be due to some sort of file name encoding happening on your system. This tip explains the symptoms and some possible solutions.

   Word Slow to Open Documents
If you've noticed a slowdown in Word when it is opening a document, you probably would like to speed up the operation. Here are some things you can check.

   Working with E-mailed Documents
Ding! You've got mail. That mail has a Word document attached to it. Before you rush off and open that document, take a moment to reflect on the information presented in this tip.

   Working with Other People's Files
When you get files from other people, you may want a quick way to apply your formatting to their text. Provided that the document you receive is formatted using styles, the application of your own formatting is easy when you use the technique described in this tip.

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.


FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.