Multiple Document Directories for Word

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 21, 2008)

Word includes a setting in the Options dialog box that allows you to specify a default directory for your documents. This is handy, but there may be times you want to start Word using a different default directory. There is no inherent method to specify multiple directories, but you can create different shortcuts for Word that will start in different directories. If you are using Word 97, follow these steps:

  1. Create a temporary dummy directory on your hard drive, such as c:\dummy.
  2. Create a shortcut for Word on your desktop.
  3. Double-click on the icon to start Word.
  4. Choose Options form the Tools menu. This displays the Options dialog box.
  5. Make sure the File Locations tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The File Locations tab of the Options dialog box.

  7. Choose the Documents file type.
  8. Click on Modify. Word displays the Modify Location dialog box.
  9. Use the controls in the dialog box to select the directory you created in step 1.
  10. Click on OK to close the Modify Location dialog box.
  11. Click on Close to dismiss the Options dialog box.
  12. Exit Word.
  13. Delete the dummy directory you created in step 1.
  14. Right-click on the Word shortcut you created in step 2. This displays a Context menu.
  15. Choose Properties from the Context menu. This displays the Properties dialog box for the shortcut.
  16. Make sure the Shortcut tab is selected.
  17. Change the Start In setting to reflect the default document path you want Word to use.
  18. Click on OK to close the dialog box and save your changes.

Now, when you double-click on the shortcut, Word starts and cannot find the default document directory you specified. As a "fall back" it uses the directory specified in the shortcut. This means you can create additional shortcuts, each of which could point to a different default document directory.

These steps don't work in Word 2000 or Word 2002. While you can follow them, they will not give the desired results. Word 2000, if it cannot find the c:\dummy directory, will not fall back to what is set in the properties for the shortcut. Instead, it will default to the Desktop. Word 2002 is similar, except that it defaults to the My Documents folder.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1831) applies to Microsoft Word 97.

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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