Mirroring Documents

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 12, 2019)


Sarah has a document that she needs to save in two different folders on her system. She wonders if there is a way to have any updates to one copy of the document be automatically reflected in the other copy of the document.

There are actually several ways you can approach this problem. One is to create a macro that actually saves the document into two locations. Here is an example of a macro that does that.

Sub DualSave()
    Dim FirstFolder As String
    Dim SecondFolder As String
    Dim DocName As String
    Dim objF As Object
    Dim retVal As Long

    SecondFolder = "c:\MyLocation\"

    With ActiveDocument
        If Not .Saved Then
            FirstFolder = .Path & "\"
            DocName = .Name
            If FirstFolder = SecondFolder Then
                MsgBox "WARNING! Second folder is the same as first folder."
                Exit Sub
            End If

            Set objF = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
            retVal = -1
            On Error Resume Next
            retVal = objF.CopyFile(FirstFolder & DocName, _
              SecondFolder & DocName, True)
            On Error GoTo 0
            Set objF = Nothing
            If retVal <> 0 Then
                MsgBox "File could not be copied to folder " & SecondFolder
            End If
        End If
    End With
End Sub

Such a macro is rather simplistic, in that it copies from where you are now to a second folder (specified in the SecondFolder variable). That means that if you open up the document in the second folder and then save it, the original document is not updated and running the DualSave macro will generate an error. (The error occurs because the first and second folder names will be the same.) For this reason, a macro approach such as this is more suitable if you want to copy to a second location as a way to make backups of your documents. An add-in created by Word MVP Graham Mayor does essentially the same thing:


Another approach (that doesn't require a macro) is to create your main document and then create the mirror document by using the "Paste Link" capabilities of Word. You simply select the entire first document and then use, within the mirror document, Paste Link to paste the information. The result is that the mirror document always reflects whatever is in the main document. (Additional information on how to link Word documents is presented in other WordTips.) The drawback is that you cannot make changes in the mirror document and have those reflected in the main document; the mirroring is only in one direction.

Perhaps the best solution, however, is to not rely on Word at all. Instead, save your main document and, in Windows, create a shortcut to that main document. Move the shortcut to the second folder, and you are ready. Now someone can open either the original document or the shortcut, and it will always refer to the same document. To create the shortcut, do the following:

  1. Save your document and exit Word completely.
  2. Locate and right-click the document file you just saved. Windows displays a Context menu.
  3. Choose Create Shortcut. The shortcut is placed in the same folder as the original document.
  4. Open a window for the second folder.
  5. Drag the shortcut from the first folder to the second folder.

Your shortcut is now in place. If you double-click it, Word opens the original document. You now essentially have a single document accessible through two different folders. The drawback to this approach, of course, is that the second folder only contains a shortcut to the original document, which means you should not consider the shortcut as a backup of the original document; it isn't. If you are actually looking for a way to make backup copies of documents, then use one of the other solutions discussed in this tip.


If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12633) 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 nine minus 5?

2019-01-14 14:10:58

David Gray

Occam's Razor wins again; I've used shortcuts to provide myself with ready access to reference documents in multiple project directories (folders) for many years. If you need access to folders, there are at least two similar options, each good in its own way.

1) Folders are legitimate targets for shortcuts.

2) Windows provides the mklink.exe system utility, which can create junctions, which appear in the folder tree as if they were child folders. For example, the following command creates a junction, F:\Source_Code\Visual_Studio\Projects\WizardWrx_Libs\AnyCSV\docs , which shows up in F:\Source_Code\Visual_Studio\Projects\WizardWrx_Libs\AnyCSV as a subfolder called docs . In this example, the source folder, F:\Source_Code\Visual_Studio\Projects\WizardWrx_Libs\AnyCSV\docfx_project\_site, is nested more deeply within the parent folder, but junctions can point to any directory that is visible to Windows.

mklink /J F:\Source_Code\Visual_Studio\Projects\WizardWrx_Libs\AnyCSV\docs F:\Source_Code\Visual_Studio\Projects\WizardWrx_Libs\AnyCSV\docfx_project\_site

Junctions are present in most Windows installations; they are the reason that you can still refer to "C:\Documents and Settings\" even though no such actual directory exists in modern Windows installations. When Windows sets itself up, it creates "C:\Documents and Settings\" as a junction that points to C:\Users. Since I do my best to avoid using "C:\Documents and Settings\" as much as possible, I didn't give much thought to junctions until it occurred to me that it was the simplest way to solve a problem that was preventing me from efficiently maintaining the documentation for the libraries that I host on GitHub.

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