Anyone who has used Microsoft Word down the years will be familiar with the keyboard combination Ctrl-F to bring up a search box. Well, all that’s changed in Word 2010. Hitting Ctrl-F now brings up the Navigation pane on the left which is a little different, but I think an improvement – at least once you’ve tried it for a day or two.
So how is it an improvement? Well for me, one annoyance of search and replace in earlier versions of Word was the way the search box would jump around over the document when you clicked the Find Next button often obscuring the search results. Now in Word 2010, the search box is in the Navigation pane in the left panel. Search results are highlighted in the main window as you type your search word. If there are few enough occurrences, a snippet of text containing the words is displayed in the Navigation pane. Clicking on a particular snippet will take you to its location in the document and the words remain highlighted. The Navigation pane can be docked and undocked if you wish by clicking the down arrow to the right of the word Navigation. The pane can also be closed by clicking the cross next to the down arrow.
I was sceptical at first. Is this really an improvement? Well it’s not obscuring the search results any more but it doesn’t seem to be case-sensitive – searching for Table brings up Table and table and words like adjustable which end in table.
No problem. There’s a drop-down box which you can access by clicking the down arrow at the right end of the search box. Select Options here.
Now if you like, you can select Match case and Find whole words only to improve your search results – and if you like you can make this your default search option by clicking the Set As Default button. Incidentally, you can also select Advanced Find (the old style search box) from this drop-down menu.
Okay, so you’ve tried it and you still don’t like the new Navigation pane. Well, you can try remapping the Ctrl-F key combination to the old style search box, now called Advanced Find. I’m indebted to Jay Freedman for instructions on how to do this:
- Right-click the ribbon or Quick Access Toolbar and choose Customize the Ribbon.
- Click the Keyboard shortcut Customize button in the dialog.
- Select the Home Tab category.
- Select the EditFind command.
- Click in the “Press new shortcut key” box and press Ctrl+F (note that the “Currently assigned to” label shows that you’re taking the shortcut away from the NavPaneSearch command, which is what you’d change to if you ever want to restore the default.)
- Click the Assign button and then click Close.
I’ve also discovered another quick way to access this Advanced Find box by adding its icon to the Quick Access Toolbar at the top of your screen. Follow my instructions in an earlier post on the Quick Access Toolbar, but this time you want to go to All Commands and scroll down to Advanced Find (with the binoculars icon), highlight it, then click Add to add this to your Quick Access Toolbar. Now when you click the binoculars icon on the Quick Access Toolbar, as shown in the top screen shot above, the familiar old style search box should appear.
Finally, I should point out that clicking Ctrl-H to bring up the good old Find and Replace box hasn’t changed in Word 2010 – and you can also access Advanced Find by clicking the Find tab at the top of that box. Of course Replace still has that old annoyance of obscuring results just like the old style Find did.
So give searching with the new Word 2010 Navigation pane a good try out first before you revert to old habits… if you must – I think you’ll like it.
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