Default Sort Order in the Open Dialog Box

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 5, 2019)

When Leo displays the Open dialog box (to open an existing document), Word always displays the available documents in alphabetical order, with subfolders first. Leo prefers to have everything sorted by date. He can click the column to change the sort order but wonders if there is a way to specify his preferred sort order as a default for the Open dialog box.

The Open dialog box is actually provided by Windows, through a system DLL shared by other programs, such as Windows Explorer. Thus, there is no setting in Word that will alter the behavior of the Open dialog box, as Word does not control the dialog box, but only uses it as needed.

The flip side of this is that you can utilize the Open dialog box in the other programs that may call upon it (such as Windows Explorer), make changes in the sort order in those programs, and that sort order should be reflected in the Open dialog box the next time you invoke it in Word.

The upshot of this is that if you use the Open dialog box in one program (such as Word) and sort the files in that dialog box by name, that same sorting will be used when you display the Open dialog box in a different program (such as Notepad). If you prefer in that other program to see the files sorted in some other manner—perhaps by type—you can make the change in that program, but the change will be reflected in Word the next time you display the Open dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13604) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 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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