Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Setting Your Default Document Directory.

Setting Your Default Document Directory

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 14, 2020)


Normally, Word starts looking for documents in the directory in which you started the program. If you want to change the default directory path, you can do so in the following manner:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll down towards the bottom of the available options and locate the File Locations button. Click on it. Word displays the File Locations dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The File Locations dialog box.

  5. Make sure the Documents option is selected from the list of file types. (This is the first choice in the list and is typically selected by default.)
  6. Click on the Modify button. Word displays the Modify Location dialog box.
  7. Use the controls in the dialog box to locate the directory you want used as the default document directory.
  8. Click on OK. The directory you selected in step 6 should now appear in the Options dialog box.
  9. Click on OK to close the File Locations dialog box.
  10. Click on OK to close the Word Options dialog box.

Note that this setting affects only the beginning directory used by Word to look for documents, before you do any opening and saving of documents. There are other actions you can take in Word that will affect the default directory proposed by the program. For instance, if you open a Word document that is in a folder different than the default one you set in step 6, and then you use Save As to save the document under a different name, the proposed directory will not match the one set in step 6. Instead, Word proposes to save the file in the same directory that the original document was stored in.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9591) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Setting Your Default Document Directory.

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 one more than 6?

2016-09-26 23:35:49

Ng Hoe Cheong

Dear Allen,
I installed office 2013 into my computer with a functioning word 2003.
The reason for the upgrade is merely because there are files with diagrams in Word 2007 and and above that will be distorted when open in 2003. After installation word 2013 become the Rword processor which is not what I want because I work much faster with word 2003 whereby many of the features are customised to my needs.

A webpage suggested deleting a file in Office 2013 that will disable the default of 2013. I did that. It solved my issue temporarliy till I need to view some diagrams in a docx file. Unfortunately, my word 2013 is not longer working. And I forget which file I deleted and could not locate the webpage that advise me to do that. Would appreciate your enlightenment. I couldn't reinstall 2013 as the system says that it no longer recognise my product key.

2016-01-25 09:58:57



2015-12-13 10:49:02


File locations becomes available when you open a Word document before selecting Options.

2015-09-26 09:55:56

David Collyer

I understand all that. The problem is that my file locations button is greyed out in WORD 2013. I can't seem to activate it to make these changes. How do I get it to light up so that I can use it?

2015-06-22 10:39:33


Thank you so much for your assistance. It helped my husband and he is very appreciative.

2015-06-05 11:17:19

Sharon Baker

This was very helpful.

2015-04-30 04:10:11


This was most helpful - many thanks

2015-04-02 13:52:38


I'm stumped. I have set my default documents folder in Options/Advanced/File Locations/Documents AND under Save/Default file Location. However, every time I start Word 2010 and then click Open it positions me to Libraries/Pictures. This is driving me nuts.

Any thoughts?

2015-03-10 04:56:24


How can one open the current file location when clicking on the Open tab? I have the impression that was the default, however currently Word as a default takes you to a dropdown menu in which none of the options is to open the current file location. Then one has to find the search the computer option, open a file explorer, where one has to search for the current document location to open a related document to the one that is active and in the same folder. There must be a quicker way to do this. How can one set the current file location as the default folder regardless of where/what that folder is?

2014-10-15 09:28:06

Janie Smith

Excellent! Thank you!

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