Keeping docs in Word and not in the browser

Today, I had one of those moments of minor frustration where a 'feature' bugged me. So I tried to find a way to fix it and it took about 10 minutes to figure out and confirm it worked. That's about 9.5 minutes longer than I would have liked, so I figured I'd post a quick entry on it in case someone else can save a few minutes in the future.

My problem was having Word documents show up in IE whenever I clicked on a link to a document. I can't count the number of times that's happened and I end up saving it out to my desktop and opening it with Word directly. So I went off to see if there was a way to always make it come up in Word. There was a way, though it's not exactly amazingly easy to find. Here's how you do it:

  1. Launch Windows Explorer.
  2. Select “Folder Options...“ from the Tools menu.
  3. Select the “File Types“ tab.
  4. Scroll down the list of “Registered file types“ until you find “DOC - Microsoft Word Document“ and select it.
  5. Click on the “Advanced...“ button at the bottom of the dialog.
  6. Uncheck the “Browse in same window“ checkbox.

That should do the trick. Absolutely far from mind-blowing, but if you're like me, it's a lot nicer this way. This also works for some other file types such as Powerpoint (PPT). Though, I do find that having Powerpoint decks showing up in the browser is more often a good way to go than it is for Word documents. 

Update (4/29): Omar Shahine has gone ahead and figured out what registry keys affect these settings so it can be done via a registry update script instead of the GUI.  You can find more info here.  He also went through a similar exercise for PDF files which you can find here.

Comments (25)
  1. Great tip, I just made this setting change on my workstation. Thanks! -JB.

  2. John says:

    I’ve long had this feature on my fictitious list for things that are ‘annoying, but not enough to actually do anything about it.’ I can now concentrate on spackling the ding in my living room wall, changing the oil in my lawn mower, and writing that little log analysis utility I’ve been meaning to get to, and, and, and… 🙂

    But seriously, thanks for posting this tip Gus. Very handy.

  3. Brian Philippus says:

    I actually code my website to force the file to download, rather than letting IE open it.

  4. Andreas Häber says:

    Thanks for the tip. This was a minor annoyance for me too 🙂

    Btw. instead of launching Windows Explorer you can also find "Folder Options" in the Control Panel.

  5. B.Y. says:

    Great tip, this is why I read these blogs. I never even noticed that advanced button before.

    I just hope people stop installing this kind of feature-annoyance by default.

  6. Anonymous says: :: Keeping docs in Word and not in the browser

  7. Any ideas how to do the same for Acrobat files?

    The "Browse in same window" is unchecked and disabled.

  8. Gus Perez says:

    Omar talked about this shortly after I posted this entry. You can read his entry here:,guid,e707e1a5-5873-4d8b-88f8-8b56fb9d15b2.aspx.

  9. Addendum Not IE Have you clicked on a link and had a PowerPoint or Word document open in Internet Explorer, rather than in the application it was designed for? Gus Perez brought up the problem in his blog: Open Word files directly in Word not in IE .

  10. ram says:

    this doesn’t seem to work for me 🙁 whether I check/uncheck the ‘Browse in same window’ option, it doesn’t seem to make any difference. the documents are always opening in Word application (in a separate window). I would like the documents to open with the browser. I have also searched the registry for BrowserFlags key and couldn’t find any. any ideas???

  11. Doo says:

    YES!!! This is so simple!! I HATE the way M$ tries to predict the way people would like to work. There are so many "features" that M$ puts in their software that it takes several days after installing a new PC to FIX their stupid ideas!!


  12. Rochelle in Denver says:

    Just what I was looking for! I’m writing my first web pages that link to word documents (and other types too) and it kept opening the file in the browser. I knew it had to be something with my settings but could not find it. Thanks so much for writing this tip making it easy to find through a search engine!

  13. Tony Padilla says:

    I actually code my website to force the file to download, rather than letting IE open it.

    4/29/2004 7:30 AM | Brian Philippus

    Brian, what code do you use? Does it work for .asp pages? I know that is redundant – Active Server Pages Pages.

  14. James says:

    Thank you so very, very much for this tip. I’m working on a small corporate Intranet and wanted to link to Office documents directly from my site. That "feature" was driving me mad!

  15. Pete Fuenfhausen says:

    Thanks, Gus. I saved that 9.5 minutes due to your post. –Pete

  16. Mark Taylor says:

    Many thanks, easy when you know how…

  17. Anthony Kent says:

    Trouble is, when I go to folder options/file types/registerd file types I have four word related options and in all of them the ‘browse in same window’ checkbox is greyed out. Any clues anyone?

  18. Ben Joyce says:

    Many thanks, this works perfectly.

  19. thanks says:

    Your site is realy very interesting.

  20. Jon says:

    Thanks mate – great tip – really helped me out!

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