Making Ctrl+F Work Traditionally

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 12, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

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 8 + 4?

2024-01-13 13:06:43

Jon Berger

OMG you are my hero. I just finally upgraded from my trusty old Office 2003 installation, and I HATE HATE HATE the stupid pointless screen-eating navigation pane. I would consign it to the deepest pits of Hell if that option appeared on the Options dialogue. Thanks so much for posting this! You have made my day.

2023-08-16 15:22:48


This is the best. Thank you!

2023-07-19 15:49:48


Most Microsoft Office 'changes' over the past decade strike me as being solutions in search of a problem.

You've ably helped to remedy one such annoyance.

Many thanks.

2023-06-28 07:34:47


Thanks very much for the tip!

2023-04-24 09:15:43

Dylan Saldrich

OMG Thank you! I can't believe they take a great and widely used product and screw it up like this! Your instructions were spectacular. THANK YOU

2023-03-08 20:15:57


This is very very helpful, thanks!

2023-02-05 08:09:42

E Byrne

Thanks from 2023 (just moved to Office 2021 from Office 2007(!) a while ago)!

2022-08-30 14:34:14

Marty from Prince William County, VA

I would be difficult to describe in Word (Get it? 'Word'? I just made an MSOffice pun) how much this has improved my quality of life.

2022-08-04 11:10:06


Thank you so much for this tip. I hate the new "smartfind" feature.

2021-11-06 19:11:00


Simple fix for an unnecessary Microsoft-created problematic feature. Thank you!
For people who still want to access the Navigation pane, I'd recommend binding that to [ALT - F], since that key shortcut is not bound to anything by default.

2021-10-07 14:33:17

Randy Chavez

Wow, this is awesome. Thanks!!!

2021-09-01 11:18:52


Thank you so much. I love you now.

2021-09-01 03:51:44


BRILLIANT! Thanks so much. That pesky column, particularly its way of shouldering the text window out of the way, was getting on my nerves. Sometimes - often, indeed - the old ways are the best!

2021-08-30 19:00:24


AWESOME, you're the best.

2021-07-17 11:08:06


I REALLY appreciate this tip. I should have looked this up years ago (or been more diligent in reading your newsletters). I also added the new find function with the navigation pane to my quick-access toolbar at the start so I can bring that up via ALT, 1

2021-04-02 10:01:33

Ms. Dale

THANK YOU! That Navigation Pane drives me crazy every time IT has to reset our system! Ugh!

2020-12-18 11:36:16


Thank you. This tip was invaluable.

Microsoft has a tendency to introduce solutions in search of a problem and, IMHO, this was one such solution.

Again, many thanks.

2020-12-10 20:00:45


Thank you so much! Took me awhile to find the answer, but this is it!

2020-11-28 12:04:52


Works like a charm. Thanks a lot!!

2020-10-01 22:20:32


Hello! This is great! I have Word 2019 now. I was wondering if there is a way to change the Spell Check F7 so it doesn’t open the Nav Pane on the right side & instead be a box like 2010 did (same area the Ctrl F is). Thank you!

2020-09-03 17:58:54

George Tirebiter

You are a Mensch, sir. Thank you.

2020-06-24 11:43:35

Milen Georgiev

Whoever thought of putting "Keyboard Shortcuts" under Ribbon customization is a master of bad interfaces.

2020-06-01 12:34:20


Thank you! That has bugged me for years, and I finally googled and found your solution. (This is the first time I've commented, but quite a few solutions I've found on your website over the years have saved me hours of aggravation.)

2020-05-25 15:26:09


Thanks, it was a great tip!

2020-05-24 12:19:38

Saurabh A R india

Thank you Allen for this wonderful article. You saved so much of time. I was fed up of this Navigation Pane(It should be PAIN actually). And finally i got rid of it all thanks to you. Feeling so good after restoring my traditional Ctrl + F function. :)

2020-05-20 11:29:44


Helped me today! Thanks, all these changes are just make it hard for us longer term users.

2020-05-15 08:15:19


WOW! Just wow. That might have been 1 of the easiest/well written step-by-step computer instructions I've ever seen for us non-tech people. Thank you!

2020-04-01 22:26:40


Thank you so much!! I hated the new format!

2020-02-25 16:19:53

Jim S

Thank you for this. This has been bugging me for YEARS.

2019-12-05 17:32:04

Jenn Richardson

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! The default ctrl+f was driving me guano.

2019-10-29 09:12:29


This is absolutely brilliant. It has been bugging me for ages that with the search pane, Word "pauses" your search and stops highlighting the found words as soon as you make any edits. Such a terrible UI decision!

Changing the keyboard shortcut allows me to use the old search feature that continues highlighting the found words while I'm making edits. I can't thank you enough for this fix!!!

2019-10-28 03:40:29

Allen Trust me. I was really struggling with this for months. cannot thank you enough you for this

2019-10-15 19:31:13


Thanks! This is really fantastic, appreciate it :)

2019-09-06 09:26:52

Ken M.

Thank you for posting this solution! This has been bugging the crap out of me for months until I finally had enough and sought your fix.

2019-08-12 18:25:37

Ryan E.

Thank you sir! Very helpful.

2019-05-10 12:27:39

Doug Knox

Thank you Allen, this tip is very useful to me. Why can't the geniuses at Microsoft be as intelligent as Mr Wyatt?

2019-05-08 05:29:55


oh man thank you for this! I hate it when they add unneccessary complications that make life more complicated.

2019-04-19 08:27:53


You just gave 11 instructions and each one was actually available in my version of Word. Usually it only gets as far as three or so and then the thing described does not exist.


2019-04-04 13:48:33

Jesus Marin

This solved my problem!
Thank you Allen!

2019-03-16 17:09:55

Annoyed with MSFT

Microsoft clearly deserves no more $ from me for ANY future version of this horrible product with its crappy product management. One would think they would have incorporated the concept of application "skins", and User configuration files that could be moved when the Application is upgraded, BACK in the early 2000's. They have been the single most important GUI concepts that help improve long term User Satisfaction with a software product of any type since ~2010 and MSFT is nearly a decade behind!

The Procedure to set the keyboard shortcut assignment for EditFind seems to be different than above on my pc based Word 2010 v14.0.7229.5000

This worked for me:
1. Get to the "Customize Keyboard" window by clicking File\Options\Customize Ribbon\Customize\
2. Select "All Commands" in the "Categories:" box list by clicking on it so it highlights
3. Scroll down to "EditFind" in the "Commands:" box and select it so it highlights
4. Click in the "Current Keys:" box and type in Ctrl-F by pressing the "Ctrl key" and "F key" on your keyboard at the same time. ("Ctrl-F" should appear in the box.)
5. Click on the "Assign" button which should be active now. (i did not get a warning that it was already assigned)

Exit out and Ctrl-F should now work.

Thank you Allen!
Booo to you MSFT!

2019-03-16 16:20:40

Annoyed with MSFT

Microsoft clearly deserves no more $ from me for this horrible product with its crappy product management. One would think they would have incorporated the concept of application "skins", and User configuration files that could be moved when the Application is upgraded, BACK in the early 2000's.

Thank you Allen!

2019-02-25 12:48:57


Really appreciate this!! And ya, why is MS so keen to remove a basic, yet powerful tool that is now second nature to most users?? ... they just can't seem to leave well enough alone!


2019-02-24 19:01:06



2019-02-04 11:59:13

Jeremy Oosthuizen

Thanks, this was very helpful!

2019-01-22 01:55:07

Mr. P.

Thank you for perfect instructions on setting Ctrl +F to execute the Advance Find feature. I am using Office Pro Plus 2016. Love it! Jan. 18th, 2019

2018-12-03 15:51:24

Elvi Dalgaard

Hi! Thanks so much for this great workaround. It works well for me in the document I'm in when I make the change, but then the next time I open Word it has reverted. Any idea how to fix this? I have it set to save changes in Normal.dotm but somehow it always seems to go back to the NavPane setting.

2018-11-21 18:55:02



Thank you. Thank you.

You solve for me this useless irritating change in Microsoft Word (like many others, by the way). There are tears of joy in my eyes.

Now CRTL-F is finally back. THANK YOU!

Tell me Allen, why Microsoft is so stupid?


2018-11-21 12:33:28

Tom Lenz

I should have done this a looooooonngg time ago. Thank you for posting these clear instructions to rid an often appearing annoyance.

2018-11-18 11:27:57

Steve Brudney

Please advise me if you have time.

For years, I have used Ctrl+F to find occurrences of a word or group of words in my manuscript in order to check whether i'm repeating myself. The occurrences would show in the panel on the left and, if all I did was click each entry to see the context in which each occurs in in the manuscript, as long as I don't click in the manuscript itself, then when I'm done and "x" out of the panel, I'm back on the page I was writing before I used Ctrl+F.

A few days ago, Ii stopped taking me back and leaves me, I think, on the last occurrence I clicked on.

Do you know what's wrong and how I can fix this?

2018-11-01 08:11:14


Thanks for the instructional. Followed your directions and now enjoying reverting back to this type of Find.

2018-10-27 11:02:55


Thank you so much Allen, I can now work just like I used to.

2018-09-04 07:26:16


Thanks that was very helpful. I hate Microsoft and how they always "improve" things. Office 2003 was the best... why'd they screw it up.

2018-07-06 18:38:47

Leroy Sunset

Every time my machine at work gets wiped and Windows reinstalled, I have to redo this setting. And every time, this page is here to help.

Thanks a ton.

2018-07-03 05:41:11


Thank you very much. Got lost many a times in the navigation panel, not anymore !

2018-05-22 11:08:16


That was exactly what I have wanted forever now. Thank you very much.

2018-05-16 17:46:39

Janice S.

Bless you! The new "find" feature (now Results is not even the default showing) was driving me nuts. This is the best explanation of how to fix something I have ever seen. Keep up the good work!

2018-05-09 08:59:18


Thank you, thank you, thank you!

2018-05-08 10:27:00


Wow! I have lived for eight years with this hideous new feature to Word (and the Ctrl-H workaround) and still find myself hitting Ctrl-F instinctively and cursing the Navigation Pane. I can't believe with such a clever (but totally unobvious) solution you have totally made my week! Thank you very much.

2018-04-23 14:09:43


This is one of the first modifications I make whenever I have to work with a new installation of Word.

2018-04-19 10:26:23

Jones McFly

Worked perfectly. Your instructions and screenshots were bang-on. Best tech advice I have ever found on the web (in terms of clearly written and perfectly explained). THANK YOU.

2018-04-16 14:06:08


Man, you are my new hero.

2018-04-14 18:15:08

Audrey M

Is there a step missing between steps 8 and 9 above? I am using Word for Mac, and when I followed the instructions as given, there was no change. I hit Ctrl F and still went to the Search pane (pain?). But then I went back into the Customize Keyboard dialogue box. This time, before I entered Command+F in the new keyboard shortcut, I selected EditFindDialog in the Commands list. Then entered Command+F and hit Assign, and now I've got my dialogue box back. Maybe this is just a quirk in Mac, and I realize this is mainly a PC site, but thought I'd pass on the information.
And thank you for showing me how to get the find and replace box back! I've missed it.

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