Making Ctrl+F Work Traditionally

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 18, 2014)


Ever since the introduction of Word 2010, Ctrl+F no longer displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. Instead, it displays a pane at the left side of the screen that allows simple searching and navigation. Many people find this very unhelpful and a step backward. It is possible to press Ctrl+H and then click on the Find tab, but to most people that isn't nearly as simple as just pressing Ctrl+F.

The solution is to make a configuration change to your shortcut keys. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the File tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click Options. Word displays the Word Options dialog box.
  3. At the left side of the dialog box click Customize Ribbon.
  4. At the lower-left corner of the dialog box click Customize. Word displays the Customize Keyboard dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Customize Keyboard dialog box.

  6. In the Categories list, click Home Tab.
  7. In the Commands list, locate EditFind and click on it once to select it.
  8. Make sure the insertion point is in the Press New Shortcut Key box. (Just click once in the box.)
  9. Press Ctrl+F. Just below the Current Keys box Word informs you that this shortcut key is currently assigned to the NavPaneSearch command. (That's the root of the problem, right?)
  10. Click the Assign button.
  11. Click Close to get rid of the Customize Keyboard dialog box.
  12. Click OK to dismiss the Word Options dialog box.

Now, whenever you press Ctrl+F, you'll see the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box, as you traditionally would.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11389) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010.

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 5 + 9?

2018-02-26 11:02:14


Thank you!!! That navigation pane is really annoying, and opens up that way the next time you use word too!

2018-02-15 06:40:06

David Hamilton

Terrific. Crystal clear instructions.
Now tell us how to get back top the old SpellCheck

2018-02-14 20:45:51


You are a life saver! thank you so much1

2018-02-13 12:47:23


Thank you so much for the instructions on changing back to the traditional find key. This was driving me nuts! So much that I even considered going back to an earlier version. I really appreciate the hints and tips and guides from you!
Thanks, Debbie

2018-01-07 11:33:42

John Burns


2017-12-15 15:28:20


I'm a transcriptionist (for 15+ years), and I've had to reinstall/reconfigure numerous versions of Office/Word, and every single time this is one of the first sites I hit so I can "fix" the stuff that used to work just fine (in old Word versions). I love you.

2017-11-21 20:32:53


Thank you! That Navigation Pane was cumbersome and stupid. Thank gawd I have the good old Find box back!

2017-10-25 12:35:51

Chris B

Thank you! Works Great and clear instructions

2017-10-24 04:51:00


Thanks - works like a dream!

2017-10-05 17:42:53


Awesome, thanks! MS should consult with you before messing up with their interfaces.

2017-10-02 04:07:51


thanks for this, it worked. and you are right, it is a step backward (as with many new updates to Microsoft Office).

2017-09-21 10:53:30



2017-09-12 06:46:12


Thank you!

2017-09-05 02:42:40

Otto Hänninen

Thank you for this valuable tip. For those who are familiar with VBA one option is to use these commands from the VBA editor (alt-F11) immediate window (ctrl-G) or to add a procedure like this:

Public Sub FindHotkey() ' OH 2017-09-05
' key+: 256=shift, 512=ctrl, 1024=alt
'Call KeyBindings.Add(wdKeyCategoryMacro, "NavPaneSearch", Asc("F") + 512) ' Word 2010 default
Call KeyBindings.Add(wdKeyCategoryMacro, "EditFind", Asc("F") + 512) ' Word 2003 default
End Sub

2017-08-22 04:51:53

Kasper Walker

Thank you man

2017-08-21 16:44:00


You are amazing.

2017-08-11 14:25:14


I never leave comments. This is the easiest search for tips I've ever seen.
Thanks so much.

2017-07-24 11:14:45


You are a life saver. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

2017-07-14 19:16:29


Perfect! Thank you.

2017-07-06 17:59:18


Wow! That was so simple. Thank you!

2017-06-24 01:13:46


THANK YOU for this! Ah, life saver!

2017-04-28 11:05:29

Jim, Salford, UK

Thank you - brilliant solution.

2017-03-30 23:50:44


Thank you! made my day!

2017-03-16 08:02:15


Thank you. Doubtless MS will continue to mess up their programmes in future incarnations, but thank you for a modicum of solace on this occasion.

2017-02-01 18:01:06


I reassigned cmd/F and the dialogue box appeared. The problem was the tool no longer works on a long document. It found only the first of dozens of times the word was used. No idea why.

2016-12-19 19:12:16


Very helpful. Thank you so much!

2016-12-03 14:05:23


Thank you!!

2016-11-30 16:19:20

Jon Cameron

Thank you so much. The navigation 'pain' was not working.

2016-10-25 10:44:43


Thank you so much for this!

2016-09-02 11:44:25


Apparently, MS software engineers are more interested in increasing the number of rearranged options than they are in using Word to easily compose documents and arrange layouts.

2016-09-01 19:40:15


Thank you!

i can't stand many of the new features of word...

2016-07-15 15:10:27


Thank you so much! The navigation pane is useful for some things, but I missed the dialog box for Find!

2016-07-15 07:20:46



They seem to have little understanding of how computers should be used and are being used these days.

I cannot stand the ribbon it takes up far too much screen space just a simple menu like before with exactly what people needed.

If anyone knows how to revert back to this layout i would kiss you i have office 365 to a point but am forced to use it. I do find that i need to do things twice or look elsewhere on the program to complete a task which is stupid.

2016-07-07 13:14:43


Thanks so much for this! It worked and saved me so much time and frustration.

2016-06-29 17:44:02


Worked! You have saved me hours of frustration. Thanks for posting!

2016-06-13 07:21:33


HEy that was a great help. The macro recording does not record the Ctrl+F with the pane search thing. Now with the old style it works like a charm. Your tip was Godsent. Thanks a mil.

2016-06-10 18:31:42


awesome tip. the Navigation panel just took up too much screen space.

2016-05-31 03:01:29


Great tip, thanks! Makes my days at work easier.

2016-05-19 03:57:32


One of the most helpful tip ever. Thank you!

2016-05-17 13:25:50


Thank you!

2016-05-16 12:55:34


Thank you so much! The navigation pane is annoying! So glad I don't have to use it anymore.

2016-04-24 19:50:31


Thank you!

This was such a dumb addition. Why can't MS leave things alone? If it ain't broke don't fix it.

2016-02-24 01:20:58


I find it is so helpful and a step following.

2016-02-17 08:18:02


Hi, thanks for the help. Hope you will have the answer to all my office problems. Tons of them...

2016-02-09 11:53:04


Hey,someone who thinks like me! Thanks for the tip!

2016-01-30 13:42:17


This thread is almost 4 years old and we're still complaining or trying to alter what Microsoft created. It would've been much better to spend the time adjusting to change.

I started using the 2013 version on one of my computers in May last year, and just set up the 2016 version for a family member yesterday. Microsoft has NOT changed back to the old 2003 or 2007 ways, so users simply need to move on now.

2016-01-29 11:58:55

David B

And then I assigned NavPaneSearch to Alt-F, so I can still get to it easily enough if I really want it.

2016-01-29 05:38:39

Alan Stinchcombe

@Hans, you could re-assign Ctrl+F back to NavPaneSearch.

2016-01-28 15:22:23


Thank you very much. Very Helpful indeed.
Pls - just for interest - how would I change it back again.

2016-01-19 05:29:30


A new year, a new guy making the leap into the post-Word 2007 world and scratching his head at what he sees. Thanks for the tip!

2015-11-16 08:48:40


Thanks! Great tip

2015-10-24 17:58:57

Jason Lo

Thank you for being so concise. Even I was able to follow along.

2015-10-14 13:17:49



2015-09-23 14:19:24


Thank you so much. It did the trick!

2015-08-20 08:21:14

David B

Thank you so much.

Is there any way to get the full Word 2003 user interface back? The Ribbon is one of the dumbest ideas in the history of technology. I have work to get done!

2015-08-07 18:16:24

Marie Alm

I am fainting with reLIEF!!!! I've been grinding my teeth at this for a few years now and just decided to see if anyone knew a way to change it. I'm very glad to find your tip.

I wish ol' <mumble_mumble> MS would *learn* that the majority of its customers don't want or need whiz-bang gadgetry on their work computers. It is interferring and slows productivity. The thing that is needed is blazing speed and bullet-proof applications that just flow out of your fingertips its so easy. Now if they would do *that*, they'd win more than a few converts, I'll bet.

2015-08-07 07:34:11


Many thanks.

Where have you been all my life?

2015-08-05 05:55:05


Thank you for the clear instructions and thank you for the solving this.

2015-07-28 12:04:53


Thank you!

2015-07-18 12:20:04

Joe Swift

Thank you sooo much! Excellent tip for an annoying feature of the new Word!

2015-07-15 18:59:50



2015-07-14 22:49:56


Thank you! Thank you! Extremely helpful!

2015-07-14 09:06:43



2015-06-18 09:33:41


Thank you! This has been annoying me for ages! Now I can get back to being productive in Word.

2015-06-12 16:13:06

Rhonda Sherwood

Thanks a million. I've hated the Ctrl+H shortcut since I first got Office 2013. It's great having Ctrl+F back for finding and replacing.

2015-05-25 07:08:20


Thanks a lot...

2015-05-19 11:09:02


Thank you, it was very helpful!

2015-04-28 13:05:32


Why don't they allow this in Excel?
Also, is there a way to make find, within a doc or xl??, work the same as within most browsers, highlight all instances as typing? Thanks.

2015-04-08 22:34:54


Yes! It's taken me days to try to fix this problem. So glad I came across your site.

2015-03-19 10:09:34


THANK YOU. This has been driving me mad.

2015-03-12 09:39:47


Thank you :D

2015-02-25 06:32:32

Eddy Szirmai

Very helpful. Thanks.
This gets rid of a very irritating change for the worse in Word 2010.

Eddy Szirmai

2015-02-18 12:04:57

G Thomas

Thank you so much, what a great help :)

2015-02-07 09:10:17


I need help with sending the cursor to the top of the page. I have tried CTRL+HOME, also CTRL+H, to no avail. I am learning MS Word 2013. It is frustrating because the training wants CTRL+HOME, especially in when I have to take the assessment. I appreciate the help. Thank you very much.

2015-01-22 15:09:28


Thank God for you. This was super helpful!

2015-01-16 20:35:25


When I open the navigation pane (Ctrl F) or Find - the navigation plane does not drfault to the left of the document but opens right on top of the document itself. How do I fix this?

Thank you

2015-01-04 20:32:35


So good, thank you. Why would the idiots at MS do this in the first place. Has been driving me NUTS for months.

2014-12-29 16:47:27


Once again the MS dolts decide that their program needs to work different compared to every other program in the world. Ctrl+F is a standard in so many editors.

Thanks for the fix! I'm sure in the next version they will remove it and force users to do their way. LOL! or not :)

2014-12-19 02:55:23

Liz J

I use Word 2010 and Word 97. Guess which one I prefer? ;-)
My gripe about the Navigation Pane search function is that I often want to specify some option after I've already typed the search term. Word very kindly erases what I had typed in the box after I select the option...aargh!
I love the navigation aspects of the pane (i.e., displaying, at the level you select, the headings in the document), but I get those in Word 97 by clicking on the document map icon. The good thing about this tip from my POV is that I now know how to display the navigation pane! I couldn't find that 'command' in the ribbon.

2014-12-18 13:05:55


Aloha. I like the Navigation Pane's appearing when Ctrl-F is keyed. It shows an outline of the current document when heading styles are used. This is a Great Feature of Word 2013! Perhaps an Excel tip for using the Navigation Pane could be written to show users the Great aspects of the pane.

2014-10-19 14:28:00


thanks a lot, it worked! :)

2014-09-10 14:15:04

Anonymous CA

THANK YOU, ALLEN! Your clear instructions have saved me a lot of future frustration!

2014-08-25 06:10:43


Oops, just realised that I wasn't supposed to type "Ctrl+F" but press the Ctrl key and F (Monday morning!), but it's done now. thanks so much.

2014-08-25 06:05:28


I am unable to type anything in the "press new shortcut key" box. Could this be because it's my computer at work?

Am happy to go with the Ctrl+H (until MS decide to do away with this function too). I use find and replace all the time - how can you do this with the Navigation pane?

2014-08-21 09:56:06

Alan Stinchcombe

If you like what the Navigation Pane Search does, but wish that you could toggle it off, I have a different workaround.

I struggled but failed to execute the relevant control programmatically. MS changing the msoID between 2010 and 2013 versions and the lack of coherent developer documentation for both Poilicy IDs and msoIDs didn't help.

Therefore, I had use a hack:

Sub ToggleSearchPane()

' Shortcut: Ctrl+F

' If Navigation pane still has focus,
' user needs to press Esc to:
' - either dismiss pane
' - or return focus to document to
' accept Ctrl+F to toggle off
If CommandBars("Navigation").Visible = False Then
' Toggle on
SendKeys "^#", True
' Ctrl+# assigned to NavPaneSearch command to which Ctrl+F was previously assigned by default
' Toggle off
CommandBars("Navigation").Visible = False
End If
End Sub

2014-08-18 11:51:54


I use ctrl+h/ctrl+f to search and replace the same text in several documents.

It seems that the find box doesn't save my search and replace texts, so I have to manually have to enter them.

Is there a setting to let Word save your entries?

2014-08-05 18:28:39


Accurate instructions for solving an annoying problem. Thank you!

2014-07-01 14:24:40


Thank you, thank you, thank you!

2014-06-25 13:45:25


Thank you so much for this! This has been annoying me for so long!

2014-05-23 11:44:53

Dr A c Eastwood

Excellent fix for a really annoying word bug. I don't know how Microsoft keep coming up with such silly ideas, if they have nothing better to do they could fix some bugs....

2014-05-16 09:40:13


Thank you!! Brilliant tip - I really dislike the search pane which is limited and inflexible.

2013-12-03 22:47:31


Thank you for helping me undo a small but important piece of Microsoft's ever growing pile of BS. I love you.

2013-11-01 01:07:40

Vinod Ramasamy

Thank you so much for the fix :) You saved me a lot of time and effort...

Windows should understand rewiring muscle memory is really tough :)

2013-08-13 12:18:10

Kim Wilson

Thank you!!

2013-05-24 05:14:41

Simon Jones

Yes, you can go back to using the Navigation Pane for Search.

Customise the keyboard again, find the "NavPaneSearch" command under "All Commands" and assign Ctrl+F to it.

2013-05-22 02:13:31


Is there any way that I could get the Navigation Pane back? I got used to it and now I like it better :)

2013-05-04 05:51:15

Simon Jones

File | Options | Customise Ribbon.
Click the Keyboard Shortcuts: "Customize..." button at the bottom left.
Select "Home Tab" from the Categories box, top left.
Select "EditReplace" from the Commands box, top right.
You should now see what shortcut is assigned to that command in the "Current Keys" box, middle left.
Click in the "Press new shortcut key" box, middle right.
Press [Ctrl+H]
Click Assign.
Click Close.
Click OK on the Word Options dialog.

If you can't get this to work for you then reply saying what fails or how you are getting stuck.

2013-05-03 16:16:45

Not working

Great. Now Ctrl-H doesn't work AND I can't change it back. Brilliant

2013-05-02 09:09:35

Simon Jones

In Word 2013, pressing [Enter] from the Find box in the Navigation Pane does select the first result.
Pressing [Enter] again selects the next result. (Sorry, it is not [Ctrl+PgDn])
When you want to find again, Press [Ctrl+F] again.
You can find and cycle round the results with just two keys.
To jump from the selected result in Navigation pane to the point it refers to in the document, press [Shift+F6].

2013-05-01 07:34:23


@Simon: "here's virtually nothing in the old Find dialog that the new Navigation Pane doesn't do better."

For starters: Here is how I would have liked for it to work (if I really had asked for this feature, which I didn't):
1. Press CTRL+F and the navigation search opens up, with the focus in the search text box
2. Search when you type is good, but I'd expect if I press enter after typing I am taken to the first result.
3. And then when I do CTRL+PgDwn (annoyingly enough the shortcut for find next deviating from all other MS Apps), I am taken to the next result and so on.
4. When I want to search for a new text, repeat steps 1-3. Keyboard navigation without having to meddle with the mouse is the key here. I don't think it is done right in its current state.

2013-04-10 20:10:24


Thanks for that Tony!
I personally am impressed with the new abilities, choices and options I found in Word 2010 and MS Office in general. I'm particularly pleased with the choices I now have when I go to paste something I copied from a website article to a Word doc, email body, etc.. That option made a huge difference when it came to keeping or dropping the formatting of the host page, very useful! There's much more I can go on about but the only thing that I didn't like so much was the Bland appearance of the default skin. But that's hardly worth a concern compared to all the new stuff.

2013-04-10 00:06:01


Rich, Ctrl+F was indeed assigned to the navigation pane in Word 2010, whereas Ctrl+H gets you the old Find & Replace box.

The NavPane doesn't do "replace" so this tip by Allen Wyatt is good, although Ctrl+H which I never knew of until now, is actually the equivalent of what we expected from Ctrl+F.

No, MS has not "listened" and adjusted anything in the 2010 version, because I just got it for my second computer in February and it still works the "wrong" way. Don't know about the 2013 version though.

2013-04-05 11:26:50


Thank you for that Tip but I want to say that I wish I would have tried Ctrl + F BEFORE I made that change because I did not see any indication that the Ctrl + F was assigned to anything. I didn't get the notice in the box that said it was "currently assigned to xx". But that may be because I only recently purchased and installed my version of Office, (MS OFFICE 2010 Pro), and before that I had MS office 2007 standard. So maybe they stopped 'default assignments' entirely and left it up to the user to do? I should probably point out that today is April 5th 2013, and I noticed that many of the posts go back to 2011 and 2012. So it's possible that MS "Listened" and adjusted their program to suite. I am running Windows 7 64bit and I already stated the Office version I'm using.
Thanks again, Rich

2013-04-04 08:09:59

Cad Delworth

Allen, you're a star!

I just encountered the so-called 'improved' Find dialog in Word and, like most of the garbage 'improvements' in 2007-or-later Office, it's Unbelievably Annoying (don't even get me STARTED on the Ribbon, for example.)

Thank you SO much for sharing this tip with us!

2013-01-31 09:48:44

Word Wimp

Thank you very much, this was helpful. I agree the navigation pane is step backwards.

2013-01-30 14:58:22


For me this is good. thanks!

2012-12-28 05:33:23

James Crawford

Many thanks for this. The Navigation window has been driving me nuts for months and now it's gone!!

2012-09-11 09:58:38


thank you, that helped a lot!

2012-02-25 11:58:11



It is possible that you may get your wish. In Word 2012 (Mac) the Replace functionality is handled in the Navigation Pane. It is assumed that this may also be the case in the next version for Windows.


2012-02-25 04:28:19

Simon Jones

There's virtually nothing in the old Find dialog that the new Navigation Pane doesn't do better.

The dropdown on the Find box allows access to all the Options (wildcards, case sensitivity, etc) and more (find tables, footnotes, comments, etc. The navigation pane finds as you type, highlights all occurences in the text and shows you snippets arround each result so you can hop between them far more easily than the old fashioned "Find Next" button.

Yes it is "different" and "not what you're used to" but try it. You might like it. I wouldn't want to go back and wish that Microsoft would extend it to do Replace as well.

2012-02-25 03:08:01

Len Rogers

The value of this tip is that it alerted me to the fact that Ctrl+F did not work as I have always used Ctrl+H. However, if one only needs to find a word to check or replace it, Ctrl+H is the better action, leaving Ctrl+F to assign to another macro. As I have about 250 macros, shortkeys are at a premium. I use macro <a> when creating a modification to an exisitng macro then by moving to that macro and editing, can C&P the instruction into the macro. By going to macro a and clicking on Edit, I C&P the whole of the macro scripts and keep them in a word file.

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