Microsoft Word tips and tricks

Nifty Way to Quickly Open The Last Word Document That You Worked On

Learn how to use switches with the Microsoft startup command to produce a variety of optional ways to open files. Find out how to create a shortcut to quickly access the Word document that you were last working on.

I suspect that many or even most users of Microsoft Word are unaware that the way Word starts up or opens files can be modified. This can be done with something called switches. These switches can be combined with the executable file that opens Word to provide shortcuts with a variety of actions.

There is a Microsoft Knowledge Base article that lists the switches that can be used with the Word program file winword.exe to start Word 2010, 2007, Word 2003, Word 2002, and Word 2000. Most of the switches for the file are of little use to the average Word user but there is one that allows a handy shortcut that is worth considering.

Fast way to open recently used files

As you probably know, Word keeps a list of the most recently used files (MRU). They can be seen by opening the File menu in older versions of Word or by clicking the orb in the upper left corner in Word 2007 and 2010. You can then access a previously opened document by clicking its name in the list. However, there is a way to quickly access a previously used document before Word is even open. It makes use of a switch that has the form:
/mfilen
where n is the place of the file in the most recently used list. Thus to open the file that you last used (it is first in the MRU list), the command would be:
winword.exe /mfile1
To reopen the next-to-last file that you used the command is:
winword.exe /mfile2
and so on until you exhaust the MRU list. For brevity, I have not included the full path in the examples above but that would be required for an actual command.

The path will depend somewhat on which version of Word that you are using. Table 1 below shows the default location of the Winword.exe program file for a number of versions of Word. The C: drive is indicated but your system may use a different drive so check your system. Also, for 32-bit versions of Word on 64-bit operating systems, replace "Program Files" with "Program Files (x86)"

Table 1. Locations of Word executable file
Word version Location of Winword.exe
2013C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15
2010 C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14
2007 C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12
2003 C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11
2002 C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10
2000 C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office

Create a shortcut to open the most recently used document

I find it very handy to have a desktop shortcut that opens the last Word document that I was working on right away without having to first open Word and then select the document.

Creating a desktop shortcut is easy. Right-click an open spot on the desktop and choose New-Shortcut. For the location of the item you would enter the full path appropriate for your particular system. For Word 2010 you would enter
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\winword.exe" /mfile1
and for Word 2007 you would enter
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\winword.exe" /mfile1

To repeat, the C: drive is indicated but your system may use a different drive so check your system. Also, for 32-bit versions of Word on 64-bit operating systems, replace "Program Files" with "Program Files (x86)". Note that quotation marks are needed because the path has spaces in it. Save the new shortcut and now you can quickly re-open the document that you used previously.

Another way to create a shortcut is to find the executable file Winword.exe. Right-click it, and use the "Send to" function to send a shortcut to the desktop. Open "Properties" for the shortcut and add the appropriate switch.

Other switches for Winword.exe

Microsoft lists about twenty different switches for use with Winword.exe. Most are for rather esoteric functions. However, there are two more besides the one already discussed that might have some interest for ordinary users of Word. They are shown in Table 2 below.

Table 2. Other possibly useful switches
Switch Function
/a Prevents add-ins and global templates (including the Normal template) from being loaded automatically
/safe Starts Word in Safe Mode