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 Startup Directory.

Changing the Startup Directory

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 16, 2016)

When you first install Word, the working directory is set to a default directory, which is normally "My Documents." You may want to change the default location to match your working habits. You can quickly change the default startup directory by following these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Click on the File Locations tab. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The File Locations tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Documents file type is selected, then click on the Modify button. Word displays a dialog box in which you can browse and select directories.
  5. Select the directory you want used as the startup directory for your documents.
  6. Click on the OK button.
  7. Click on the Close button.
  8. Exit and restart Word.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (136) 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 Startup Directory.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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