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: Modifying Behavior of the Open Dialog Box.

Modifying Behavior of the Open Dialog Box

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 3, 2016)

Bronwyn asked if there was a way to force the Open dialog box to stay visible so that multiple files could be opened consecutively. While multiple documents can be opened at the same time using the Open dialog box, this isn't want Bronwyn wanted to do.

One solution—that only tangentially involves Word—is to use the Windows Explorer to display the files in a folder. Open an Explorer window that shows all the document files. You can then double-click on files, or create a selection set of files and right-click on them and choose Open. The window is continually available, and you don't need to worry about repeatedly displaying the Open dialog box.

If you prefer a solution directly within Word, just remember that Word is very configurable, which means you can change just about every aspect of the program. This includes the behavior of the Open dialog box. All you need to do is create a replacement for the FileOpen command, as in the following:

Public Sub FileOpen()
    Dim err_handler
    On Error GoTo err_handler

    With Dialogs(wdDialogFileOpen)
        .Name = "*.*"
        Do While .Show <> 0
            .Name = "*.*"
        Loop
    End With
    Exit Sub

err_handler:
    If Err.Number = 5174 Then
        MsgBox "You can open only one file at a time.", vbCritical
        Resume Next
    Else
        MsgBox Err.Number & vbCrLf & Err.Description, vbExclamation
    End If
End Sub

With this macro in place, whenever you choose Open from the File menu, Word displays the Open dialog box with All Files as the specified file type. You can then select a file, and the dialog box again opens to await your next selection. If you click Cancel on the dialog box, then the command ends and you can begin your other tasks in Word.

There is a difference between this implementation of the Open dialog box and the one that is presented normally by Word. In Word, you can create a "selection set" within the Open dialog box so that you can open multiple files at the same time. When you use the wdDialogFileOpen dialog box (as is done when you create your own replacement for the Open command), you can only select a single file at a time. This didn't seem to be a big problem for Bronwyn, but could be a problem for other users.

If you must retain the ability to open multiple files at once, then you can execute a commandbarcontrol. However, in executing the commandbarcontrol, you cannot test if someone clicks Cancel. Therefore, you need another way to get out of the loop. In the following routine, you can select/open multiple files, but you must also respond to a dialog box to exit the loop that shows the dialog box.

Sub GetNewFiles()
    Dim Response
    Do While Response <> vbNo
        CommandBars("Standard").Controls("&Open...").Execute
        Response = MsgBox(Prompt:="Open another file?", Buttons:=vbYesNo)
    Loop
End Sub

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1869) 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: Modifying Behavior of the Open Dialog Box.

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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