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This chapter is from the book

Using and Customizing Common Dialog Boxes

The Open and Save As dialog boxes used throughout Office have a series of shortcut icons on the left side, called the Places bar (see Figure 3.6), designed to speed navigation through common file locations. As we noted earlier in this chapter, the Office version of the Places bar looks identical to the one available in the common Open and Save As dialog boxes found in other Windows programs. However, with a small amount of effort, you can easily customize the Office version. The default icons are as follows:

Figure 3.6

Figure 3.6 Customize the Places bar by adding shortcuts to commonly used data folders. To see more choices, use the Small Icons option.

  • My Recent Documents—Opens the Recent folder, which contains shortcuts to files and folders that you've worked with. When you click this icon from within an Office program, Office displays only shortcuts appropriate to the application you're using.
  • Desktop—Opens or saves files on the Windows desktop. Use the desktop as a holding area when you want to create a file and move it elsewhere using Windows Explorer. Using the desktop as a permanent storage area is generally a bad idea because most Office applications have a tendency to create temporary files in the same location as the file you're working with. Those temporary files disappear when you close down the original file.
  • My Documents—Opens the personal data folder for the user currently logged on. As noted earlier in this chapter, Windows allows you to change the target folder that Office opens when you click this icon.
  • My Computer—Displays icons for local drives and document folders.
  • My Network Places—Lets you manage files stored in shared folders on your network, an FTP server, or on WebDAV-compatible servers.

In Open and Save dialog boxes, Office includes two features that make it easier to find a file by name:

  • As you type in the File Name box, the AutoComplete feature suggests the first name that matches the characters that you've typed so far. Keep typing, or press Enter to accept the suggestion. Note that the list of files does not scroll as you type.
  • If you click in the list of files and then type a character, Office selects the first file that begins with the letter or number that you typed. If you quickly type several characters in rapid succession, the selection moves to the first file that begins with those characters. If you pause for more than a second between characters, this type-ahead feature resets. Note that as you select files in this fashion, Office does not fill in the File Name box.

To adjust the display of files in the Open and Save As dialog boxes, use the Views button. The drop-down arrow lets you choose from a list of views, or you can click the button to cycle through the following icon arrangements:

  • Thumbnails, Tiles, Icons, and List views mirror their counterparts in Windows Explorer.
  • Details view displays size, file type, and other information. Click any heading to sort the list by that category.
  • Properties displays summary information about the selected document in the right half of the dialog box.
  • Preview displays a thumbnail version of the document in the right half of the dialog box as you move from file to file in the list. In general, you should avoid this option because of the performance penalty you pay: As you scroll through a dialog box, the program that you're working with has to open each file. Find an import filter, if necessary, and generate the preview. Switch to this view when you want to quickly verify that the file you're about to open is the correct one, and then switch back to List or Details view after peeking at the file.
  • WebView uses an HTML template to display files stored in a SharePoint document library.

The Places bar can be customized to make it easier and faster to get to frequently used folders. To add your own folders to the Places bar, select the icon for the folder that you want to add, and then right-click in the Places bar and choose to Add or Remove it from the Places bar. (You can't rename or delete the five default locations on the Places bar.) Keep in mind that you select the folder and then right-click in the Places bar in a grey part of the bar.

To rearrange folders in the Places bar, right-click an icon that you want to move, and choose Move Up or Move Down.

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