How to Find a Recently Modified Document on Microsoft Word

Finding Documents in Word

When using Microsoft Word and creating many documents it is very easy to forget where the file has been saved on your local hard drive. Searching through a list of documents can be time consuming and frustrating. So are there ways to quickly find missing Word documents? This article will explain two simple methods:

  • Using Microsoft Word Recent Documents List
  • Using Windows Explorer to search for documents

The article’s examples were created using Microsoft Word 2007 on Windows XP. The method on Windows 7 and Word 2010 is very similar – where possible I have included the Microsoft Word 2010 equivalent.

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Using Microsoft Word Recent Documents List to find Word documents.

The instructions below are for Microsoft Word 2007 & 2010.

Finding the list of recent documents in Microsoft Word.

Every time you save a file using Microsoft Word it is added to the recent documents list. To view the list:

  • Click on the Office button (This has been replaced with the File menu in Word 2010)

This shows a list of the recent documents that have been saved. Microsoft Word lists nine documents by default

Changing the number of documents Microsoft Word lists in the recent documents list.

  • Click on the Office button (File menu in Word 2010)
  • Click on Word Options (Options in Word 2010)
  • Click on Advanced
  • Scroll down to the Display section
  • Amend the number next to Show this number of recent documents
  • Click OK

The recent document list will now list the number of documents selected.

Pinning a document in the recent documents list

If you have a document that you use often, you can pin it to the recent documents list so that it never disappears. To pin a document to the list:

  • Click the Office button (File menu in Word 2010)
  • Look for the relevant document in the recent documents list (if it isn’t in the list, load the relevant file and save it – it should now be listed)
  • Click on the sideways pin so it turns green – the document in now pinned in the recent documents list.
  • To unpin the document from the list simply click the green pin.

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Using Microsoft Word Recent Documents List to find Word documents.

Windows Explorer is a powerful tool that allows you to view, search and maintain files and folder. To open Windows Explorer:

  • Right Click the Start button
  • Click Explorer

At this point you have various options.

Navigating Folders in Windows Explorer

Use the folder section to navigate through your folders – as you select a folder, a list of files appears in the right window. You have additional options:

  • Sort on Name, Date Modified, Type etc. This will allow you to have control of the order in which files are listed. If you know the name of the file, sorting on Name will allow you quickly find the document. If you edited the document recently, sorting on Date Modified will allow you to quickly find the most recently edited files.

Searching for document in Windows Explorer

If you do not know where you saved the file, or your save folder has thousands of documents in it, you can use the search functionality of Windows Explorer. With this tool you can search your whole drive or search a selected folder.

To use the search functionality using Search box and do one of the following:

  • Search all folders for all Word documents: click on Computer in the folders section and type *.doc in the search box. This will search for any Word documents including Word 2007 and Word 2010 documents. (To search in a folder, click the relevant folder in the folders section first)
  • Search all folders for a specified Word document: click on Computer in the folders section and type name_of_file.doc in the search box. This will search for any document with the name name_of_file including Word 2007 and Word 2010 documents. (To search in a folder, click the relevant folder in the folders section first)

Searching for recently changed documents in Windows Explorer

If you are unsure of the name or the folder in which the Word document was saved, but you know it was changed on a certain day or within the last day or two, you can use the advanced features of search to find recently changed documents. To do this:

  • Type *.doc into the search box.
  • Underneath the menu, a sub menu item will appear: Search Tools – click on Search Tools
  • Click on Search Pane
  • A new menu will appear above the file menu – You can amend the ‘show only’ options to filter out other types of files.
  • Click on Advanced Search – this will open up a pane that allows you to add additional criteria to the search:

Location – change the folder to be searched.

Date – you can search for date changed or date modified and specify an exact date, is before, or is after. For example you could search for all documents modified after 10/3/12.

Size (kb)- specify the size in kilobytes of the file (can choose equals, greater than or less than)

Name: allows you to search for the name (or part of) of the file

Tag: allows you to search for any tags you may have assigned to the file (you can add tags to a file when saving)

Authors: allows you to search for the author of the file – this is useful when you have multiple users of the computer.

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Comments 5 comments

xstatic profile image

xstatic 3 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

This is a useful hub that I will refer back to for assistance. My biggest problem is with photos. I save to "my pictures" and sometimes lose them altogether or spend way to much time looking for them. Do I use the same method described here?


SimeyC profile image

SimeyC 3 years ago from NJ, USA Author

xstatic: yes you can use the explorer to either look for certain picture files (*.bmp, *.jpg) etc.or you can use the filters to view only picture files


xstatic profile image

xstatic 3 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Great, thanks!


twinstimes2 profile image

twinstimes2 3 years ago from Ohio

Great resource. I have done these exact steps multiple times. Nothing is worse than not finding a doc when you are looking for it! :) Up and useful.


Richard Atterton profile image

Richard Atterton 16 months ago from Manchester

I'd rather work with OpenOffice, but we use word in my office. Very useful.

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