Speed Up Words Find Tool


Q. I’m a major user of the Find tool in Word: It’s very handy when I’m working in a very large document and searching for a word, a phrase or even particular numbers. However, once I locate the first instance of my target and then make the necessary changes, the Find screen disappears and I have to call it up all over again to locate the next occurrence. You would think those smart people at Microsoft would have figured out a way to speed up the Find tool in cases like that.

A. You’re right, and the software engineers did just that; in fact, they figured out several ways to speed things up in Find . One method works in all editions of Word editions; and starting with the 2000 edition, you have an additional option. Here’s how they work:

In any edition of Word, press Ctrl+F to open the Find and Replace screen and then type in the target text or number(s)—for example find (see screenshot below).

When you click on the Find Next button, Word will jump to the first instance of the word find . Now I warn you: The next step is counterintuitive. Close (that’s right, close) the Find and Replace screen by clicking on the X in the top right corner. You won’t realize it, but the Word insertion point will stay with the found text and Find still will be working, hidden in the background, and you can edit the surrounding text at will.

To locate the next occurrence of the word, press Shift+F4, and presto, it will be highlighted even though the Find screen will remain hidden. Again, edit the surrounding text. Each time you press Shift+F4, Find will track down the target and at no point will the Find screen appear on the screen to get in your way.

If you have Word 2000 or later, here’s the other option: After closing the Find screen, look at the lower-right side of your screen. You’ll see, among other things, up and down blue arrows on the bottom of the vertical scroll bar (see screenshot at right).

Click on either one (the up arrow if you want to search up and the down arrow if you want to search down) and Find will move to the next location of the sought-after word or number—again, without the Find screen getting in the way.


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