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Faster Office File management on the fly

The File Open and Save dialog boxes in Office have many not-obvious features which let you do a lot of file management and housekeeping on the spot.

You try to save a document and realize you need a new sub-folder. Or open a document and want to move it to a different folder. Or just realize that your documents are in a mess and you decide to do some impromptu reorganization.

It’s all possible from inside File Open or File Save dialog boxes that open from inside Office. You don’t have to switch to Windows Explorer to do those file management tasks.

From File Open and Save panes

Sadly all that useful access was mostly lost when Microsoft moved to their modern File | Pane system. But the older, more flexible File dialogs are still accessible. At File | Save As | More options …

At File | Open use the Browse button or right-click on a document and choose “Open file location”.

Open File Location

By the way, “Open File Location” is REALLY handy and deserves to be better known.

It’s a quick way to access files in the same folder as the recently opened file. Maybe documents on the same topic or project?

It also lets you quickly clone a file to make a fresh document, see below.


The File Open dialog is usually too small for anything beyond finding and opening. But modern Office changed to a resizable dialog box.

Just look in the bottom right corner of the dialog and you’ll see some small diagonal lines – click and drag on them to resize the window.


The key to file management in the dialog box is the right mouse menu. Right-click on a file and you’ll find many options (they vary according to your setup and the file you’ve selected).

For our purposes today we’re interested in some old faithfuls:

  • Cut
  • Copy
  • Paste
  • Delete
  • Rename

The first three work much the same way as they do when you’re moving text around.

Cut removes the file to the clipboard and lets you choose Paste to move the file to a new folder.

Copy makes a copy of the selection and lets you choose Paste to put a copy of the file in another folder.

Paste only shows up when there’s something in the clipboard (in this case from Cut or Copy) and will save the file/s to the folder new displayed.

Delete doesn’t really delete as I expect most of you know. Instead the file is moved to the Recycle Bin for later deletion.

Rename will change the file name display into an editable field so you can type in a change of name (or fix a badly named file).

Details View

Explorer and the File dialog have many different views. We feel that Details view is the most useful. Look at the View menu on the ribbon to see what’s available (it varies a little depending on which Windows you have).

Details view gives you sortable columns which make it easy to find what you need.

Search for the file you want

Just like in Explorer, the File … dialogs have the Search box at top right.


You can make a copy of an existing document while in the File | Open dialog. That lets you open a copy (clone) of an existing document and is faster than opening the original then ‘Save As …’ a copy.

  1. Right-click on the file name and choose Copy
  2. Then right click again and choose ‘Paste’.
    • or use the Ctrl + C then Ctrl + V shortcuts to get the same result.
  3. A clone of the original file will be created called ‘.... -copy‘ or in older Windows ‘Copy of ...
  4. You’ll almost certainly want to rename the newly created file – just right-click again and choose Rename F2.
  5. Then double-click on the file to open it in Office or other program.


Naturally you can use Windows Explorer to manage your files and even open them in Office programs but you can also drag files between the File dialog boxes and Explorer windows.

Just click on a file name in a File dialog and drag it to an open Explorer window or vice-versa.

Treat the File dialog like another Explorer window

In other words – treat the File dialog like another Explorer window and move files to and from it as you would any other folder.

OR use Copy or Cut / Paste to either copy or move a file between an Explorer window and a File dialog.


If you have file compression software like WinZIP or RAR loaded then you have even more file management options available on the right-click menu in File Open.

Depending on the software you can compress files into a smaller form or extract a file from existing archives.


If you make file changes in the File Open dialog or an Explorer window open to the same folder, the exact display of files might not be correct.

To show recent changes just press the F5 (Refresh) button to force Windows / Office to redisplay the contents of the folder.


The Details folder view is my favorite not just because it shows many files in the available screen space but also you can find what you want a bit faster by sorting the columns.

Like most Windows lists you can sort the list by clicking on the heading column – click once to sort in that order, click a second time in the same heading to reverse the order.

Use this to find the most recent or oldest documents in that folder. Click on the Date Modified column to sort by date and the most recent files will float to the top (click again if they don’t to reverse the date sort).

Naturally you can use the other sorting columns to arrange the files by name or file type. Sorting by Name or Type (aka Extension) also helps group like files together.

There’s also a sort menu on the ribbon to rearrange the file list in ways not available from the list headings.


The File Open dialog doesn’t have the same menus or ribbon as normal Explorer windows, except for the right-mouse click menu, and so remembering some shortcut keys can speed your work. Even better, these same shortcuts work in other situations.

Cut Ctrl + X
Copy Ctrl + C
Paste Ctrl + V

These also work for text in Word and almost any other Windows program because they are standard shortcuts that pre-date Windows.

Rename F2

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