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Open, Save, or Close a Document in Microsoft Word

This tutorial is here to teach you the various ways to save, or open existing files in Microsoft Word. It will also show you the various nerdy ways you can close a document in Word and how to exit the Word window.

Open a Saved Document (File) in Microsoft Word
While you are creating a document, it is often important to save it for future use. The saved document now becomes a file. A file is a complete, named collection of information, such as a user-created document. It is the basic unit of storage that enables a computer to distinguish one set of information from another. It is a collection of data that a user can retrieve, change, delete, save, or send to an output device, such as a printer or e-mail program.

From the foregoing explanation, you realize that a saved document can be retrieved, viewed and reused. Here are the steps involved in opening/retrieving a saved document/file in Word environment.
  1. On the Menu bar, click File, and then click Open. The Open dialog box appears.
  2. In the Look in list, click the drive or folder that contains the file you want to open.
  3. Click the file.
  4. You'll see a preview of the selected file in the Preview box.
  5. Click Open.

Open a File as Copy in Microsoft Word
This feature allows you to open a copy of a document which you can edit and save, without such changes altering the content of the original file. When you open a file as a copy, a duplicate of the file is created in the older that contains the original file. You can, however, save the copy you opened in a different location (drive and folder) and with a different filename, using the Save As command in the File menu.

Use this method if you want to work on a file of which you do not want the new changes to reflect on the original document.

  1. On the Menu bar, click File and then click Open. The Open dialog box appears.
  2. In the Look in list, double-click the drive or folder that contains the file you want to open.
  3. Select the file whose copy you want to open.
  4. Click the drop-down arrow next to the Open button to display a drop down list.
  5. From the drop-down list, click Open as Copy. 

    • A copy of the selected document now opens. Now see the title bar of the document. You'll find that Word has automatically named the document Copy (1) of ***. The asterisks represent the filename of the original document.
    • If you save the document, using the Save command, after making necessary changes to it, the changes are saved into the document with the default name - Copy (1) of ***.
    • To save the document with a different filename, you must use the Save As command on the File menu.

      Open a File in Read-Only Mode in Microsoft Word
      Opening a file in read-only helps protect a sensitive file from inadvertent change. A stray character coming into an important document that has been proof-read and is ready for publishing can ruin the quality of the entire work. If you need to review an already proof-read document but with no  intention to make further changes to it, I suggest you use the Open Read-Only option of opening a document. This can help save you of costly/embarrassing mistakes.

      In other words, opening a document in Read-Only prevents new changes that are either purposely or mistakenly made to the content or structure of the file from reflecting on the last saved version (i.e. how it was before you opened it) of the file. It simply allows a user to open a file to be read or copied, but not changed and then saved.

      If you attempt to re-save/save changes to a document you opened in Read-Only, Word will immediately display the Save As dialog box, enabling you to re-save the document, together with whatever changes you have made to it, with a different filename or location. This way, the original document is protected, unchanged and unaffected.
      To open a document in Read-Only in Word:
      1. In Word window, click File, and then click Open. The Open dialog box appears.
      2. In the Look in list, double-click the drive or folder that contains the file you want to open in read-only.
      3. Select the desired file.
      4. Click the drop-down arrow next to the Open button, and then choose Open Read-Only.

      Save a Document in Microsoft Word
      As you create a document, you will need to store it for future reference or use.

      In Word, you to save your documents in various ways. You can save all open documents at the same time. You can also save a copy of the active document with a different name or in a different location. If you share documents with people who use previous versions of Word, and you want to be sure the documents look the same when they're opened in the earlier versions, you can turn off features that are not part of that version.

      To save a document:
      1. Open the File menu and click Save. The Save As dialog box appears.
      2. In the File name box, enter a desired name for the document.
      3. To save the document in a folder or a drive other than the default, click the drop-down arrow in the Save in box, and then choose the desired folder or drive.
      4. To save the document in a new folder within the current drive, click the Create New Folder button on the toolbar within the Save As dialog box, directly below the title bar of the Save As dialog box.
      5. Click Save. 

      The document is now stored with the name and in the location you specified, and up to the very point (i.e. only the amount of text or objects contained in the document) before you used the Save command.

      • As you make changes to the last saved version of the document (i.e. as you type in more characters or insert objects), you will need to use the Save command often to keep updating the saved document. 
      • You can save time by clicking the Save button on the Standard toolbar or by pressing Ctrl and S keys simultaneously on the keyboard.  
      • Use the Save button on the Standard toolbar to save your document for the first time, or to save changes to an already saved document, in the same location and with the same filename. 
      • Use the Save As command on the File menu to save the current document in a different location, or with a different name, or in a different document format, or to assign a password to the document. The Save As command always displays the Save As dialog box, where you can do one or combination of these. 
      • For a comprehensive list of all keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Word, click here, and for a detailed list and explanation of the purposes of toolbar buttons in Word, click here

      Save a File/Document to another Format in Word
      You can save a Word document in a format that makes it possible to access or edit in other/earlier versions of Word or in other word processors such as WordPerfect. When you save your work in Word, it is stored in the default document format of the particular version of Word you are using. The file name of the saved document is automatically followed by a .doc extension. To be able to share documents with people who use other word processors or who use versions of Word that have a different file format, you will have to save documents in file formats that such word processors or other versions of Word can understand/read. For example, you can open a document created in WordPerfect, make changes to it in Word, and then save it in either Word or WordPerfect format.

      Steps to save a file to another format in Microsoft Word:
      1. On the File menu, click Save As.
      2. In the File name box, enter a new name for the file.
      3. Click the Save as type list, and then click the file format that you want the file saved in.
      4. Click Save.

      Save Files Automatically When I Work

      Word is equipped with an automatic saving function that ensures that a document containing important data is automatically saved at regular intervals. It does so by making an automatic document recovery file at the default interval or the interval you pre-assigned. Sometimes you are unable to save important changes to your document because your computer suddenly stops responding or you lose power unexpectedly. When this happens, Word opens an AutoRecovery file the next time you start Word so that you can open it to recover most of the changes unsaved to the original document. Note that it is still your absolute responsibility to update your document constantly by using the Save command. AutoRecover is not a replacement for the Save command. Also, if you choose not to save the recovery file after opening it, the file is deleted and your unsaved changes are lost. If, however, you save the recovery file, it replaces the original file (unless you specify a new name or directory).
      To set up the interval for automatic saving of file when you work
      1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Save tab in the Options dialog box that appears.
      2. Select the Save AutoRecover info every check box.
      3. In the minutes spin box, enter the interval for how often you want to save files. Note that the more frequently your files are saved, the more information you will be able to recover on the event of computer crash/hang, power failure or file damage. In other words, the smaller the value you enter in the minutes  box, the more frequently your files will be saved and the more information you will be able to recover if the dreaded happens.
      4. Click Ok to save your settings and close the dialog box

      Speed Up Saving a File
      Word is also equipped with a feature for speeding up saving by recording only the changes in a document.When you save changes to your document in Word, Word invariably overwrites the last saved version of the file and then re-save the entire document. In other words, it simply re-saves the entire document from scratch. If the document you are working on has grown rather long, or maybe you are saving in a removable disk or floppy, you'll notice a slight delay while saving changes to the file. So, speeding up saving a file can be handy in helping you reduce such delays. When you finish working in the document, you can then perform a full save of the complete document.

      1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Save tab, in the Options dialog box that appears.
      2. Select the Allow fast saves check box, and then click OK.
      3. Continue working on the document but make sure you save the new changes you make to the document as often as possible.
      4. To perform a full save of the document, clear the Allow fast saves check box in the Options dialog box, and then save the document. The document is now saved fully, having cleared the Allow fast saves check box.

      Close a Document
      When you are through working in a document, you need to close it. This will help prevent unintended changes from being made to it, and also to free the computer working memory [Random Access Memory (RAM)] some space.

      Note, however, that closing a document means simply closing the active document (using the Close command or alternatives), without actually quitting the entire Word window. 

      There are several ways of closing a document in Word. These methods use:
      • The File menu
      • The Close Window button on the menu bar
      • Shortcut keys
      Closing a Document Using the File Menu
      1. From the Menu bar, choose File.
      2. From the File menu, click Close.

      • This operation will close the active document, leaving the Word window Grey, ( if you have no other document running in Word) and the Title bar displays only the program name, but no program name.
      • If you have not saved the recent changes you made to the document, Microsoft Word or the Office Assistant (if you have been using the Word Help or the Assistant has been on screen) will display a message box, asking whether you want to save the changes to the document. Click Yes, to save the new changes, click No, to discard the recent changes, or click Cancel, to abort the close operation and continue working in the document.

      Close a Document Using the Close Window Button on the Menu Bar

      Simply click the Close Window (X) button to the extreme right of the Menu bar. The active document will be closed, leaving the Word program still running. Word or the Office Assistant will prompt you to save  your document, if you have unsaved changes in the document.

      Close a Document Using Shortcut Keys
      To close the current document without exiting Word, you can use any of the following shortcut keys, if you are a keyboard fan:
      • Press Ctrl and F4 keys simultaneously on the keyboard (Ctrl + F4).
      • Press Ctrl and W keys simultaneously on the keyboard (Ctrl + W).

      Exit Word
      Exit is a command on the File menu used for quitting the Microsoft Word application when you are through working in your document. When you exit Word, the open document is also closed. Microsoft Word or the Office Assistant (if the Assistant has been active on screen, or you have been using Word Help) will display a message box or balloon, prompting you to save any unsaved changes to the document before exiting. Click Yes, to save the document before exiting Word; or click No, to exit Word without saving the  document or the changes you've made to it; or click Cancel, to terminate executing the Exit command and continue using Word.

      There are several ways of exiting/quitting the Word application. The methods use:
      • The File menu
      • The Close button on the title bar
      • The Context menu
      • The System menu
      • Shortcut keys 
      Quitting Word Using the File Menu
      The Exit option on the File menu is the command used for exiting the Word application. You have learned that the Close command on the File menu closes the only active document, leaving the Word program running still.
      To exit Word using the File menu,
      1. On the Menu bar, click File
      2. From the File menu, click Exit.  
      • The program (together with the running document) will then quit, but you will be prompted to save the document if unsaved changes exist in it. Choose Yes to save document, No to discard the changes while Word exits, or Cancel if you change your mind and want Word to continue running.

      Quitting Word Using the Close Button on the Title Bar
      This is perhaps the fastest method of exiting Word using the mouse. It involves clicking the Close button, which you can find in all Windows applications on the right-hand side of the title bar. The Close is equally available on the title bar of the Word window.
      To exit Word using this method, simply click the Close button once. Word will then quit, but you will have to choose whether or not to save changes to the document, if necessary, in the message box or balloon that may  appear.

      Quitting Word Using the Context Menu
      The context menu is the shortcut menu that pops up when you click the right mouse button on a space or on a window element.
      To exit Word using the context menu,
      1. Right-click the title bar element of the Word screen.
      2. Click on the Close option.
      1. Right-click the Word button on the task bar.
      2. From the context menu, click Close.
      Choose an appropriate option when you are prompted to save your document, if necessary.

      Quitting Word Using the System Menu
      An even fast way of exiting Word is by using the control menu box. All Windows applications always come with a logo (icon), which is usually displayed on the extreme left-hand side of the title bar. This is the System menu. The System menu of the Word program is the blue "W"  icon enclosed in a blue frame at the left-hand side of the title bar of the Word interface.

      To exit Word using this method,
      •   Simply double-click the System menu (the Word icon).
      1. Click the System menu once.
      2. Click the Close option on the menu that appears.
      If unsaved changes exist in the document, you will be prompted to save your document before the application finally exits. Click an appropriate option.

      Quitting Word Using Shortcut Keys
      For keyboard fans, who'd rather issue commands from the keyboard, here are the combination of  keyboard keys you can use to exit Word.

      Press Alt and F4 keys simultaneously (Alt + F4).
      Press Alt, F and then X keys, one after the other (Alt + F + X).
      Press Alt, Spacebar and then click Close from the menu that appears, or simply press X when the menu appears.

      Thank you for taking your time to read his tutorial. Please continue to drop by for future updates and helpful tips. Your visits will surely be worth it. I sincerely appreciate your visits and presence here. If you are finding these tutorials and tips informative and helpful, please kindly recommend this blog to your friends. If, on the other hand, there is any area you feel improvement is needed, please kindly forward a piece of advice. These will be highly welcomed and appreciated. Feel free to drop comments or ask questions using the comment box below. Your comments will be promptly reviewed and published and your questions speedily looked into and answered in the best possible manner. Thanks.


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      5. I have a serious problem with word. I edit my documents and while typing word exits suddenly without being auto-saved. I can't figure out what I might have typed that could have done that. It scares me, because I never know when Word is going to quit on me. I used Wordstar for many years, but I finally had to leave it since it's no longer supported and I can't stand using dosbox. I shifted to MS word reluctantly because I had this problem earlier with it as well. I thought to be careful to save and close a number of times, but eventually I become complacent and forget to do so. I write novels for a hobby and do legal work for my husband, so you can understand how it pinches when you lose 30 or 40 pages of work, and can't find it anywhere. I do have auto-save on (every minute) but whatever work I was doing vanishes completely along with hours of work. Do you have any idea what command I might be typing (By mistake perhaps, like hitting alt or command instead of shift) that could cause the document to exit without saving? And if you do, what is it and is there a way I can change that command to something else? For instance, if I'm typing 'command X' by mistake and it exits, can I change that to 'command F10' or something instead?. It's very painful to lose hours of work and have to redo it, especially if it's work on my novels. I'd appreciate any help in this regard. You can refer to me as Wordweary.

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