Easily Spotting Found Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 2, 2014)

5

When Deena is using Find and Replace, Word highlights the found word in gray and she often has a hard time locating it in the text, especially if the finding has skipped far ahead of the last highlighted word. Deena would like to have a bright-colored highlight (or some other means) that is easily located and wonders if that is possible.

Exactly how Word highlights "found text" varies based on a number of factors. First, if you are using the regular Find option, when you press Ctrl+F, Word displays the Navigation pane at the left of the document and allows you to type in something you want to find in the document. Doing so causes Word to highlight all occurrences of that text in your document. That text is highlighted in yellow.

If, however, you are using the advanced Find option, then not all instances are highlighted. When you step through the instances of the found text, they are highlighted in a blue or some other lighter color that is consistent with whatever color theme you have selected for your system. (More on that in a moment.) You can cause Word to use the higher-contrast yellow for what it finds by instructing it to highlight whatever you are searching for. Follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click on the Find tab to display it. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Enter into the Find What box the text you want to locate in the document.
  5. Click Reading Highlight and choose Highlight All. Word highlights in the document all instances of text that match what you entered in step 3.
  6. Press Esc to get rid of the Find and Replace dialog box.

At this point, all instances of the text you want are highlighted in the document and they are easy to see because of the yellow highlighting. You can navigate easily through the document and the highlighting remains until you do something to edit the text in any way.

If you want to change the actual color used to highlight selected items (like found text), then you'll need to make a change to the color theme used by Windows. (This is not a change in Word, but a change in Windows itself.) By making the change, you can modify the color used to mark found text when stepping through instances using the advanced Find option; this won't affect the color used by a simple Find operation or when you rely on Reading Highlight.

If you want to change the appropriate color in Windows 7, you can follow these steps:

  1. Get out of Word.
  2. Right-click anywhere in your Windows desktop. (Make sure you right-click on the desktop itself, not on any of the objects on the desktop.) Windows presents a Context menu.
  3. Choose Personalize from the Context menu. Windows displays the Personalization options.
  4. Click the Window Color link.
  5. Click the Advanced Appearance Settings link. Windows displays the Window Color and Appearance dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Window Color and Appearance dialog box.

  7. Using the Item drop-down list, choose the Selected Items option.
  8. Using the Color 1 drop-down list, choose the color you want Windows to use when you select items.
  9. Click OK to close the Window Color and Appearance dialog box.
  10. Click Save Changes to save your color changes.
  11. Close the Control Panel window.

If you are using Vista, follow these steps instead:

  1. Get out of Word.
  2. Right-click anywhere in your Windows desktop. (Make sure you right-click on the desktop itself, not on any of the objects on the desktop.) Windows presents a Context menu.
  3. Choose Personalize from the Context menu. Windows displays the Personalization dialog box.
  4. Click Window Color and Appearance.
  5. Click the Open Classic Appearance Properties for More Color Options link. Windows displays the Appearance Settings dialog box.
  6. Click the Advanced button. Windows displays the Advanced Appearance dialog box.
  7. Using the Item drop-down list, choose the Selected Items option.
  8. Using the Color 1 drop-down list, choose the color you want Windows to use when you select items.
  9. Click OK to close the Advanced Appearance dialog box.
  10. Click OK to close the Appearance Settings dialog box.
  11. Close the Control Panel window.

If you are using Windows 8 your options for setting the color are quite a bit more limited. In fact, you'll need to change to a funky, clunky high-contrast color theme in order to change the selection color. Follow these steps:

  1. Get out of Word.
  2. Right-click anywhere in your Windows desktop. (Make sure you right-click on the desktop, not on the Start screen. In addition, right-click the desktop itself, not one of the objects on the desktop.) Windows presents a Context menu.
  3. Choose Personalize from the Context menu. Windows displays the Personalization options.
  4. From the themes available, choose one of the high-contrast themes. (You'll need to scroll down a bit to seem them.) It may take a moment or two for Windows to apply the theme.
  5. Click the Color link at the bottom of the dialog box. Windows displays the Color and Appearance settings. (See Figure 3.)
  6. Figure 3. The Color and Appearance settings.

  7. Click the Background option to the right of the Selected Text option. Windows displays the Color dialog box. (See Figure 4.)
  8. Figure 4. The Color dialog box.

  9. Using the controls in the dialog box, choose the color you want Windows to use when you select items.
  10. Click OK to save the selected background color.
  11. If necessary, repeat steps 6 through 8, but for the Foreground color.
  12. Click Save Changes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13189) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013.

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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Comments

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What is eight minus 3?

2014-08-05 03:22:58

Or

Hi,
In the last line of the document you write "This tip (13189) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. ".
I would recommend to write this also at the beginning of the tip.

Thanks,
Or


2014-08-04 03:59:29

balthamossa2b

In W8 isn't there a registry value you can change for the highlight color directly? I kind of remeber reading about it when I was customizing my desktop, but I don't remember very well.

And how about the Accesibility options? You could always use the High Contrast option.

...Or manually change the color display number, however ugly Windows will get.


2014-08-02 17:01:16

Linda

I didn't realize how funky the settings would be. Fortunately, I must not have saved the new settings or if did something right while trying to fix the problem; everything has returned to its usual look, for which I'm grateful

Thanks for your tips.


2014-08-02 14:05:04

awyatt

Linda:

Yep. I know. That's why I said "you'll need to change to a funky, clunky high-contrast color theme." Personally, I don't find it acceptable, but it is the only way I can find that Microsoft allows that particular setting to be changed in Windows 8.

-Allen


2014-08-02 13:51:07

Linda

I have Windows 8. I'm not happy with the results from following these steps. For one thing, my Word screen looks different. In fact all of my screens are different. In short, the steps not only changed colors but the look of Word, my home page, my e-mail page. For example, in Word, the office button in the top left corner is no longer in color but rather a circle with a black and white graphic in the the shape of the office button. Also, the icons on the tool bar look different. I suspect the problem is with the high-contrast theme, but I don't know what to do. What I wonder is if there's a way to return to the default look for screens.


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