Changing from Absolute to Relative Hyperlinks

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 16, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365

Linda has a Word document that contains many (1,800+) hyperlinks to resources on the Internet. She needs to convert all the hyperlinks so that they are not absolute to a URL on the Web, but so they point to a relative location on a USB drive. The name of the HTML file will be the same on the USB drive as it was on the Web, it is just the location of that HTML file that is changing. Linda wonders about the best way to do the conversion.

The best way is to do the conversions using a macro. Each hyperlink in your document is stored in the Hyperlinks collection which can be easily accessed via VBA. This allows you to step through the collection of hyperlinks, examine the addresses for each, and then make modifications in them. Here is an example of such a macro:

Sub ConvertHyperlinks()
    Dim sNewBase As String
    Dim sFile As String
    Dim sNewFile As String
    Dim sChanged As String
    Dim sNotChanged As String
    Dim sTemp As String
    Dim J As Integer
    Dim h As Hyperlink

    sNewBase = "c:\myplace\"
    sChanged = ""
    sNotChanged = ""

    For Each h In ActiveDocument.Hyperlinks
        sTemp = h.Address
        If Left(sTemp, 5) = "https:" Then
            sFile = ""
            For J = Len(sTemp) To 2 Step -1
                If Mid(sTemp, J, 1) = "/" Then
                    sFile = Right(sTemp, Len(sTemp) - J)
                    Exit For
                End If
            Next J

            If sFile > "" Then
                sNewFile = sNewBase & sFile
                h.Address = sNewFile
                sChanged = sChanged & sTemp & " (changed to " & _
                  sNewFile & ")" & vbCrLf
                sNotChanged = sNotChanged & sTemp & vbCrLf
            End If
            sNotChanged = sNotChanged & sTemp & vbCrLf
        End If
    Next h

    Selection.TypeText "The following hyperlinks were modified:" & vbCrLf
    Selection.TypeText sChanged & vbCrLf & vbCrLf
    Selection.TypeText "The following hyperlinks were not modified:" & vbCrLf
    Selection.TypeText sNotChanged & vbCrLf
End Sub

The macro starts by stepping through the Hyperlinks collection. Each address is assigned to the sTemp variable, which is then checked to see if it starts with "https:". Some hyperlinks—for example, those for e-mail addresses or to existing files—won't start with these characters. If a match is found, then the code steps backward through the address to find the final slash in that address. When it is found, then sFile is set to equal everything after that final slash, which means it will be equal to the HTML file.

An interesting side note here is that when you create a hyperlink in a word document, Word does a little bit of processing on what you type versus what is actually stored in the hyperlink. For instance, let's assume that you type the following in a document:

Word automatically recognizes this as a website and converts it to a hyperlink. (Assuming, of course, that you have Word set up to do automatic URL conversions.) If you look at the address actually stored in the created hyperlink, you'll see the following:

Because this address begins with "https:", the macro will consider it to be something processable. However, the loop that steps backward through the address looking for the last slash character will find it at the very end. This means that sFile will be empty because of this code:

sFile = Right(sTemp, Len(sTemp) - J)

The length of sTemp and J are the exact same for the last character in the string, so sFile ends up containing the rightmost 0 characters, meaning it is empty. The bottom line is that it won't contain a file name, so the original URL is not converted to something else.

To make the macro work properly on your system, you'll want to change the sNewBase string to contain whatever you want added to the beginning of the processed addresses. Remember that as written, the default string added to the beginning of a file is "c:\myplace\". Thus "" is changed to "c:\myplace\privacy.html". This converted address is not, strictly, a relative hyperlink. A relative hyperlink would not have the c:\ characters at the beginning, so it would end up being something like "\myplace\privacy.html". Again, you can change the value of sNewBase to be anything you want so that your converted hyperlinks look just like you want them to.

It doesn't take long to run the macro; it is very fast, regardless of how many hyperlinks are in your document. When the macro is complete, it creates a new document that shows the hyperlinks modified and those not modified.


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 (12931) 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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