Five Ways to Open Word Documents Quickly

If you use Word, you may have files scattered all over your hard disk. Looking for files takes time, but if you take advantage of these five tips, you can get at your files more quickly.

1. Increase the number of documents on the Recently Used List.

Most people know about the "recently used documents" list at the bottom of the File menu. By default, this menu is set to show the last 4 documents you opened. You can change this number up to a maximum of 9 by choosing Tools|Options. In the General tab, make sure there’s a checkmark next to Recently used file list and change the entry to a higher number.

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2. Add Word to the Send to Menu

Most people know that if you double click any document that ends in .doc, Word will open it. However, sometimes for one reason or another you have a document that isn’t recognized as a Word document. Or you want Word to open another type of document such as a text document (which ends in .txt). In these situations, it’s helpful to have Word on your Send to menu.

In Windows XP, the Send To folder is usually located under C:Documents and SettingsUsername, where Username is your account name. The easiest way to include an item on your Send To menu is to drag a shortcut into that folder. Choose Start|Programs and find the entry for Word. Now choose Send To|Desktop as Shortcut. A new shortcut appears on the desktop. Drag that new shortcut into the Send To folder that you have open in Windows Explorer.

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3. Use Word’s Work Menu

You can add this menu for those documents you access frequently, but that tend to fall off your recently used documents list. For example, I have a little Weekly Planning Form that I print out every Monday. There’s no way it’s still on my recently used documents list after a whole week. If I add the Work menu, I can put that file on it and still get to it quickly.

To add the menu, follow these steps:

1. Choose Tools|Customize.

2. In the Commands tab, under Categories, click Built-in menus.

3. Under Commands, scroll down and at the bottom you’ll find Work.

4. Drag the Work menu to your menu bar.

Now you have a new menu with one item that somewhat cryptically says "Add to Work menu." To add a file, open the file you want first. Then Choose Work|Add to Work menu. Now you’ll see your file listed in the menu. To access your file, you now can just choose the file name from the Work menu.

Getting a file off the Work menu is a little less intuitive, but it is possible. To delete a file, you need to press Ctrl+Alt+ – (that’s the hyphen/minus sign). Your cursor turns into a big black minus sign. Now click the Work menu to open it and then click the file in the list you want to remove.

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4. Create Shortcuts to Your Word Templates

If you use Word templates, one way to get at them more quickly is to create shortcuts to them and place them on your desktop. When you double-click the shortcut, Word opens a new document based on the template, so you can avoid wandering around the New dialog box or Task Pane.

To create a shortcut to a Word template, you need to find out where Word has stored them. This location may depend on your version of Word and whether or not you are using a network. To find out, from within Word choose Tools|Options. Click the File Locations tab and note the folder that’s next to User Templates.

Now to create your shortcut:

1. Right-click in an empty spot on your desktop.

2. Choose New|Shortcut from the pop-up menu.

3. Click the Browse button and navigate to the folder where you discovered Word is storing your templates.

4. In that folder, click the filename for the template you want and click Next.

5. Enter a descriptive name for your shortcut, so you’ll remember what it’s for, and then click Finish.

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5. Group Shortcuts in a Folder

If you use a specific set of documents or templates for a regular project, one way to get at them easily is to create a desktop folder that contains all the shortcuts for that project. Back in Windows 3.1 days, desktop icons were organized into "program groups; with Windows XP’s folders and shortcuts you can do more or less the same thing.

For example, I have a folder that contains all the files related to mailings related to my book Vegan Success. The files themselves are in different folders, but the shortcuts are all organized into one group on the desktop, so I can find them more quickly. Here’s how it works.

1. Open Windows Explorer and go to (or create) a project folder.

2. Assuming you have desktop shortcuts for your software, click to select one. Now press Ctrl+C to copy it.

3. In Windows Explorer navigate to your folder. Press Ctrl+V to paste your shortcut in the folder.

4. Repeat the process for all the shortcuts to all the software or files you plan to use in your project.

5. Now to place a shortcut to the folder on your desktop, right-click on your desktop and choose New, then Shortcut. The Shortcut Wizard appears.

6. Click the Browse button and find your folder. Click the Next button.

7. Give your shortcut a name.

8. Click OK to exit the wizard.

A shortcut appears on the desktop with a folder icon. When you double click it, you see all your files and shortcuts grouped together in one place and easily accessible. How tidy!

As you can see, with a little up-front customization, you can access your Word documents quickly, which means less time wading through your hard disk looking for files!

About Susan Daffron

Susan Daffron is the author the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies and multiple award-winning nonfiction books, including several about pets and animal rescue. Check out all her books on her Amazon Author page.