Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Default Picture Location.

Default Picture Location

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 22, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Word allows you to insert graphics (pictures) into your documents. You normally do this by using the Picture tool in the Illustrations group on the Insert tab of the ribbon. On my system, Word always defaults to the Pictures Library folder, although this may be different on your system. If you want Word to start in a different folder, you can specify the folder by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the options and click the File Locations button. Word displays the File Locations dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The File Locations dialog box.

  5. In the File Types list, select Clipart Pictures if you're using Word 2007 or Word 2010. For Word 2013, select Images.
  6. Click on Modify. Word displays the Modify Location dialog box.
  7. Use the dialog box to locate and select the folder you want to use as the starting location for your graphics files.
  8. Click on OK.
  9. Click on OK again.

That's it. Now each time you use the Picture tool, Word displays the folder you selected in step 6.

It is unfortunate that Word doesn't have a "memory" concerning the graphics files directory, as it does for document directories. Word remembers the folder you last used for documents during the current Word session; it won't do that for graphics—it always starts from the folder you specified in step 6.

If you want Word to remember the last place you were each time you use the Picture tool in the current session, then you need to go back to not having a default picture location set. (I know; this seems very odd.) If you follow the steps above, but erase the Folder Name box in step 6, you will set the Clipart Pictures location to nothing—no location. Now, when you use the Picture tool, Word again starts at the Pictures Library (or whatever your system default is) but it remembers where you navigate. This means that during the current session, each time you insert a picture from a file Word will start at the folder from where you last inserted.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10173) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Default Picture Location.

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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