Making the 'Welcome Back' Message Consistent and Permanent

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 1, 2021)


Robert routinely works with massive Word documents. When he opens a Word document, the program helpfully displays a message that says "Welcome back" on which he can click to jump to where he last worked in the document. Robert finds this message very helpful, but it also seems to be spotty, appearing in some documents but not in others, and also temporary. He cannot find information on how to make it consistently permanent. Robert knows he can press Shift+F5 to return to his last edit point, but he has an almost impossible time remembering this and finds the "Welcome back" feature more helpful. Robert wonders if there is a way to make the message more universal and permanent so that every time he opens a document, no matter how many times he opens it, the message always appears.

The short answer is that no, there is not a way to consistently and permanently do this. The reason is actually quite simple, having to do with what you are viewing when you are using the document. This is an important fact to remember—the "Welcome back" message has to do with the page you were viewing just before you saved; it has nothing to do with where you made your last edit in the document.

So, let's say you have a document on which you are working. When you close the document and later open it, you should get the "Welcome back" message, provided the page you were viewing just before you saved was not the first page of the document. If, however, you make your edits, jump to the beginning of the document, and then save, then the next time you open the document you won't see the "Welcome back" message. Why? Because the last page you were viewing before saving was the first page of the document, and that first page is automatically displayed when you open the document. Thus, there is no other page to go back to, so the message is not displayed.

Taking this a bit further, let's say that you open a document and you do see the "Welcome back" message. If you immediately save your document after opening (even without making any edits), then the last page you viewed was that first page in the document—it was the page visible when you saved. Thus, the next time you open that document, you won't see the "Welcome back" message for reasons already discussed.

It should be noted here that this behavior just mentioned—saving right after opening—may not work as described on all versions of Word. On some versions, you actually do need to make an edit on the first page before saving. Doing so, however, doesn't mean that the "Welcome back" message is dependent on that edit. No, the edit simply confirms, to Word, that you are actually viewing the first page.

You can see the same behavior if you open the document, press the Page Down key (which gets rid of the "Welcome back" message, if it was visible), press the Page Up key to again display the first page, and then save your document. The next time you open the document, the "Welcome back" message is nowhere to be found because Word knows, based on the navigation keys you pressed, that you were viewing the first page when you last saved.

So, what does this mean to you? In my book it means that you cannot count on the "Welcome back" message being a reliable way to return to where you were last using Word in a particular document. There are just too many unintended actions that could disrupt the use of the message. For the same reasons already discussed, I've even found Shift+F5 after opening to be a bit flaky in some documents.

For me, if I want to remember where I was in a document (particularly a long, long document), I'll type some unique sequence in the document that I can search for when I next open it. For instance, I can type "XXX" or "***HERE" in the document at whatever point I want. When I later open the document, I can search for those unique sequences and I'll be right back where I was in the document when I last saved.

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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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What is eight more than 6?

2021-05-03 03:44:26

Gautam Patel

Excellent, thanks much, Ken.

2021-05-03 03:14:17

Ken Endacott

Gautam. Here is a handy way of placing a bookmark at the previous selection without jumping away from the current selection. It uses the predefined bookmark \PrevSel1. Predefined bookmarks are transient and are not stored in the saved document.

ActiveDocument.Bookmarks.Add Name:="MyBookmark", _

2021-05-02 02:40:32

Gautam Patel

I had a system very like Ken's but then found I do not need it for all my documents, just the longer ones. So I diverted to the manual system (explicitly set the bookmark and explicitly find it), using it on an as-needed basis.

Presently, working on a macro to incrementally add a bookmark at the last place (since I often work on different parts of the document) by auto-appending a date/time string to the default "lasthere" bookmark. This should generate a number of unique bookmarks with distinct suffixes. The corresponding bookmark-select macro should list all of them in order and go to the one of choice. As a variant, thinking of inserting a string to clearly identify the bookmark: select, press a hotkey, it converts spaces into underscores and trims the selection to something manageable and creates a bookmark.

Work in progress ...

2021-05-01 22:06:17

Ken Endacott

My suggestion is to execute a macro when the document is closed to create the bookmark ExitSel at the current selection before saving. A corresponding macro executed when opening a document will on request, jump to that bookmark if present otherwise the start of the first page will be selected.

If the macros are stored in the Normal template then the operation is automatic. Alternatively the macros can be placed on the QAT for manual execution.

Sub AutoOpen()
On Error Resume Next
If ActiveDocument.Bookmarks.Exists("ExitSel") = True Then
If MsgBox("Jump to previous selection?", vbYesNo) = vbYes Then _
End If
End Sub

Sub AutoClose()
On Error Resume Next
ActiveDocument.Bookmarks.Add Name:="ExitSel", _

2021-05-01 09:35:54


An alternate solution could be to set a bookmark in the place you were last editing or reviewing. Especially if you collaborate on a long document using Track Changes, either proposing them or reviewing and accepting/rejecting them.

2021-05-01 04:34:37


I use a much simpler method of doing this. I wrote a macro that sticks in a bookmark called -- not unreasonably -- "IWasHereLast". I assigned it a shortcut key, and then a follow-up macro with another key that takes me right there.

F5 is my key to stick in the bookmark and Ctrl+G takes me there.

Sub StickIWasHereLastBookmark()
ActiveDocument.Bookmarks.Add Name:="IWasHereLast"
End Sub

Sub ZipToLastPlace()
Dim Msg, Style, TITLE, Help, Ctxt, Response, MyString
Msg = "The 'I was here last' bookmark is undefined" ' Define message.
Style = vbOKOnly + vbInformation ' Define buttons.
TITLE = "GaSP! Magic" ' Define title.

On Error GoTo Terminal
Selection.GoTo What:=wdGoToBookmark, Name:="IWasHereLast"
With ActiveDocument.Bookmarks
.DefaultSorting = wdSortByName
.ShowHidden = False
End With
GoTo Finale

Response = MsgBox(Msg, Style, TITLE)
If Response = vbOK Then
GoTo Finale ' User chose Yes.
End If

Err = 0
End Sub

This returns an error if you have NOT put in the bookmark. It works much better than the default Windows Welcome Back message, which I find annoying and have managed to permanently disable.

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