File New in Microsoft Word - Access to User and Workgroup Templates - Registry Hack

by Charles Kyle Kenyon, Esq.

There are no promises that this chapter is of the same quality or depth as the other chapters of this guide. That is because it was written by a single author not working with Microsoft and not subject to peer review.

Last updated Sunday 19 June 2022.

Comments are welcome.


Introduction. This could be a part of the chapter on File New Variations but would bloat that chapter.
This is about what you see when you use File => New in the various versions of Word and how to get to your own user and workgroup templates. (Word 2007: Office Button => New).
This chapter is about how to hack the registry to give priority to your custom templates.

This chapter is for Word for Windows Versions 2013 and later.

First, why?

Since Word 97, Microsoft has been trying to steer users to see the plethora of mediocre templates available Online.

This trend is discussed in depth in my page on File New Variations.

A remedy given in that page is to use the legacy FileNew dialog instead of the Backstage. That is what I do.

With Word 2013, Microsoft introduced the Custom Office Templates folder and the version of Backstage that essentially hides your custom templates under a button.

You are shown all sorts of Online templates by default, the "Featured" templates.

If you want your Custom Templates to be displayed, you need to click on a button which can have various names as explained in the variations page.

For most users, this is a button click they neither want nor need.

(In addition the Custom Office Templates folder is confused with the User Templates Folder. I recommend that they be set to be the same folder.)

The purpose of this page is to show you how to have your Custom Office Templates (and Workgroup Templates) be the first displayed, allowing you the option of looking at the Featured Templates by clicking on that button instead.









Macintosh versions of Word (2004, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2019 / 365) are not covered here although they may be similar to the Windows versions. I have not used Word on the Mac since Version 6.0 and do not have the experience to write helpfully about those versions.

Things Covered In This Web Page

This page takes a look at:
bulletHow the new document choices have changed as Word has changed.
bulletWord 97-2000 File New Dialog
bulletWord 2002-2003 New File Pane
bulletWord 2007's handling of finding templates
bulletWord 2010's handling of finding templates
bulletWord 2013-21's handling of finding templates
bulletRegistry Hack to give preference to user's custom templates in FileNew
bulletWord 2013-21 modifications
bulletAdd a Keyboard Shortcut
bulletAdd an Icon to the Quick Action Toolbar (QAT)
bulletModify the Ribbon
bulletStorage of modifications


Additional Written and Web Resources

bullet Restoring File New - Word 2002-2003 by Suzanne Barnhill, MVP
bullet Use local templates with Office 2013 and later by Diane Poremsky, MVP
bullet History of Microsoft Word - Wikipedia
bullet Word 2007 & Later Key Data File Location by Paul Edstein and Charles Kenyon
bullet Microsoft Word 2010 Bible by Herb Tyson, MVP
bullet Alternative Ways to Access Custom Templates - Alternatives for File New in Word my article on the Microsoft website



Click to return to table of contents page of Legal Users' Guide to Microsoft Word.Click to go to Microsoft Word new users frequently asked questions site in a new browser window.
(this guide table of contents) ------- (MS Word New Users FAQ)

Creating a New Document Based on a Template

Word uses the standard Windows keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+N) to create a new document. This is actually a new document based on the Normal template ( or Normal.dotm). This should be a blank document without text. However, it is rare that we want to begin documents from scratch. Ordinarily what we want to do now is similar to something we have done in the past. For that we can save a lot of time by using a template. There are many templates distributed with Word and many available online. Those who use Word extensively, tend to build their own set of templates, often based on modifications of the generic ones. This is good practice. The FileNew dialog gives access to these templates. That access has changed through the versions of Word.

Starting Point - Word 97-2000

In Word 97-2000, when you selected "New" under the File menu you saw a dialog that looked something like this:

In this article, I refer to this as the FileNew dialog. As is explained in the Templates chapter, this dialog gives quick access to templates on your computer in certain designated locations. It includes templates distributed with Word (some built into the program), those in the User Templates folder and those in the Workgroup Templates folder and their subfolders. It does not give access to templates that may be stored elsewhere on your computer or on the Office site.

Every installation of Word will have a User Templates folder which has a default location but which can be designated by the user. A separate folder (local or network) can be designated by the user as the Workgroup Templates folder. Word does not create such a folder upon installation, it must be created by the user.

I have found using these two folders to store any templates for daily work to be beneficial and this FileNew dialog to be a quick way to use templates that have been developed or modified locally.

Over time, there was a great push for new users to have access to templates they can use immediately without developing their own. This has resulted in changes to what shows up with File => New making the basic FileNew dialog shown above harder to find. This chapter is about those changes and how to use them but still reach and use the FileNew dialog.

Back to Table of Contents
Word 97-2000 File New Dialog

Word 2002-2003 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2007 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2010 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2013-21 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2002-2003 and the Introduction of the New File Pane

Selecting New from File in Word 2002-2003 opens a Task Pane on the right side of your Word window something like the following:

Selecting "General Templates" (Word 2002) or "On my computer" (Word 2003) gets you the FileNew dialog:

The Task Pane also has the option to look at Templates on (Word 2002) Office Online (Word 2003) or on My web sites. The Word 2003 new file dialog itself has a button to go to Office Online.

It is possible in all versions from Word 97 on to also look at lists of templates including details in this dialog.


In Word 97-2003, the FileNew dialog includes (1) installed templates, (2) user templates, and (3) workgroup templates. Here's how to get to this dialog without going through the New File Pane.

Back to Table of Contents
Word 97-2000 File New Dialog

Word 2002-2003 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2007 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2010 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2013-21 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2007 - the Ribbon Interface and the Emphasis on Office Online Templates

Word 2007 brought us the Ribbon Interface. This was part of a drastic makeover of Office and eventually Windows and many other programs (not produced by Microsoft). The idea is to make many more commands accessible to the novice.

As a part of this, the Office Online templates were moved toward center stage. The File menu disappeared, replaced for some purposes with the orange Office Button. Going to Office Button => New starts with Blank and recent templates but provides other choices.

The long list of categories for templates looks like the tabs in the FileNew dialog but refers to Office Online templates, not those installed on the computer with Word or placed there by the user. Installed templates refers to templates from Microsoft, not user or workgroup templates. These "Installed" templates are actually built into the program rather than separate template files on the computer.

Microsoft Office Online gives a bevy of templates divided into categories (searches on Office Online). What we are interested in here, though, is templates created or modified locally. If stored in the User Templates Folder or the Workgroup Templates folder, these are accessed using "My templates..."

This brings us our traditional or classic FileNew dialog (with no button for Office Online). Beginning with Word 2007 this dialog no longer includes the "Installed" templates but simply those found in the User Templates Folder and the Workgroup Templates Folder. For me, this is fine.

If you want to be able to get to this dialog with a keyboard shortcut or an icon on the QAT, skip to that section.

Back to Table of Contents
Word 97-2000 File New Dialog

Word 2002-2003 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2007 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2010 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2013-21 Changes - Potential Modifications

 Word 2010 Starts With Graphic Office Online Icons

Word 2010 returned something that looks like a File menu - the blue File Button which takes us to the "backstage" of the document. When New is selected there, we get a graphic emphasis on Office Online templates right away.

or - closer up -

The categories with icons shown in the predominate bottom part of the screen are for Office Online templates, not built-in templates, not user or workgroup templates. These look like the tabs in the FileNew dialog but are not.  Again, these give a search result (Bing) for templates in that category on Office Online.

The "Sample templates" in the Home part of the window are those built into the program  -- the same as Word 2007's "Installed Templates."

Again, these are built into the program, not separate files on the computer. It is possible, using XML, to add your own custom templates to the featured templates. Your author has not done this, but it is discussed in Deploy Custom Templates.

If "My templates" is selected we get (surprise!):

Again, this dialog is a combination of the templates in the User Templates folder and the Workgroup Templates folder under tabs. The tabs are representations of subfolders in those folders. See the Templates Chapter for more on that relationship and the folder organization.

If you want easier access to FileNew Dialog in Word 2010, you can skip ahead to that section to see how to get a keyboard shortcut, an Icon on the QAT or even a button on the Ribbon to take you there.

Word 2013 Changes Things Up Again

Word 2013-21 changed the default location of custom user templates from a hidden Templates folder to one called "Custom Office Templates" stored in the user's Documents folder. Again, this is a default. Word 2013 tries to store any document you save as a template to the this templates folder (returning to earlier behavior). The normal.dotm file is still saved in the User Templates Folder. See below for more on this distinction.

When you choose File > New, Word 2013-21 does not display the FileNew dialog or even look like it gives you a choice of your custom templates! It starts you out with icons of Office Online Featured templates.


Note: If when you Start Word 2013-21 you are seeing something like this when you expect or want to see a blank document, see Word 2013-21 Startup Screen.

It is possible, using XML, to add your own custom templates to the featured templates. Your author has not done this, but it is discussed in Deploy Custom Templates.

Hidden in the clutter of that crisp-looking screen next to "Featured" is the word "Personal" or "Custom" or "Shared." My thanks to this Wiki article for the explanation for the variations in what shows up.


If you have not defined any custom template locations (user or workgroup) you will see none of these words in quotation marks.


If it says "Custom" that means you have designated a folder as your Workgroup Templates folder and a folder as your Custom Office Templates folder. If you click on "Custom" it gives you the Custom Office templates folder and Workgroup Templates folder instead of the Microsoft templates. These folders are treated separately, not combined, and the view you get when you open one is different in that you cannot manipulate the templates on your computer from this dialog, only start a new document based on a template. The Custom Office Templates Folder does not include the User Templates Folder (which holds the normal template) unless the user has changed the folder locations to be the same folder.


If it says "Private" that means that you have not designated any folder as the Workgroup Templates folder and clicking on "Private" will give you a view of the templates in the folder designated under the File>Options>Save for your custom office templates.


If it says "Shared" that means you have defined a Workgroup templates folder but not a Custom Office Templates folder.

Each of these words look like text, but they are buttons that you click on to get to another screen.

The folder names shown above were set by the user. The default location for user templates changed in Word 2013 from "Templates" to "Custom Office Templates." The old template folder (which contains the normal template) does not show up on this dialog. Workgroup Templates have no default name or location in any version of Word.


Registry Hack:

You can make the screen shown above the default (i.e., show your Custom templates as the default rather than the (usually useless generic) Online templates by modifying the registry.

WindowsKey + R gives you a Run Box:

Type "regedit" and click on OK. You will be asked if you really want to do this. Say "Yes."

A confusing looking Explorer dialog will open up.

Type or Paste the following in the address box:


Press Enter.

Then under File choose to Export the Registry (this is a backup before you make changes):

You should notice where you are saving your backup and assign a good name.

You are in the Word options. Look for OfficeStartDefaultTab.

If it is there, change the value to 1. If it is not there, right click on Options and create a new DWord if you are using a 32-bit version or a new QWord if you are using the 64-bit version.




Figure 2013-3. If you click on one of the folders, you get to see icons for its contents, beginning with the folders.


If you click on one of those internal folders, you get to icons for its contents.

In the classic dialog there would be a tab for "Appellate Forms CK." Clicking on that tab would get you to those templates, shown as (smaller) icons or as a list.

The Classic File New dialog (which you would reach by clicking on "On My Computer" or "My Templates" in earlier versions is not available in Word 2013-21 without modification. That dialog allows direct manipulation of templates (i.e. copy or delete) as in Windows and lets you show lists of template names rather than icons. It combines the templates in the user templates folder and those in the workgroup templates folder. It does not show any templates in the Custom Office Templates folder unless that folder is set to also be the user templates folder or the workgroup templates folder.

You can easily add access to the classic FileNew dialog to your Word 2013-21.

Advantages of the Word 2013-21 method:


It allows more layers or hierarchies in your templates folders. The classic File > New dialog gives you to locations for templates, the User Templates folder and the Workgroup Templates folder. It merges any folders contained therein into tabs in the dialog. If you put any folders inside of these subsidiary folders, Word ignores the subsidiary folder structure. Word 2013-21 will let you go deeper.


If you have workgroup letters and personal letters, you will have to go to your Private and Shared folders first to find them. In the classic dialog, the two are merged into the Letters folder. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage.


Word 2013-21 allows you to "pin" a template to the initial File New screen.

When you mouse-over a template, the pin icon (pin pointed horizontally) will appear.

If you click on that pin icon, it will rotate and the template will appear on the initial File New dialog.

Word 2013-21 installs with the "Take a Tour" template pinned.

Clicking on the pin of a template already pinned, will rotate the pin back to horizontal and unpin the template.

If you hesitate in clicking on the pin/unpin icon, you'll get a tooltip as shown.



None of the proposed 2013-21 modifications preclude using the native Word 2013-21 method and screens.

Word Start Screen adds another wrinkle.

One more wrinkle is that Word 2013-21 comes with a new Startup (splash) screen that makes things even more confusing. You can get rid of it in Word Options.

The Distinction between the User Templates Folder and the Default Personal Templates Location in Word 2013/365 and later.

Word 2007-2010 save newly created templates where documents are saved,  by default. This is not a good place to be saving templates. Earlier versions saved them in the User Templates folder, by default. Word 2013/365 introduced the "Default Personal Templates Location." By default this is a separate folder called Custom Office Templates in the documents folder. It holds templates created or saved by the user but does not hold the normal.dotm template.

The user can change the location of the Default Personal Templates folder under the File > Options > Save dialog. Again, this folder is distinct from the User Templates folder set under File > Options > Advanced > File Locations. That folder contains the normal.dotm template.

This (Default Personal Templates folder) is the location Word will look for templates under the File > New dialog as Personal. It will NOT look at the User Templates folder unless that folder is the same folder! Unless this folder is also designated as the User Templates folder, it will not contain the functioning normal.dotm template.

The User Templates folder is a roaming location by default and can be set under File > Options > Advanced > File Locations. It will contain the normal.dotm template and will show up in the classic FileNew dialog. I recommend that most users designate the "user templates folder" and the "default personal templates" folder to be the same location.

See also this discussion on the Word Answers forum.


Back to Table of Contents
Word 97-2000 File New Dialog

Word 2002-2003 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2007 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2010 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2013-21 Changes - Potential Modifications

Getting to the FileNew dialog without all the intermediate steps

See FileNew Variations in Microsoft Word

Keyboard Modifications to Word 2013-21 Saved in Normal.dotm by Default

You will see an option for storage location option on each of the Customize dialogs. The modifications made to keyboard shortcuts are stored in the normal.dotm template by default. Those to the QAT are stored in the Word.OfficeUI file. These are the easy place to keep these and you may want to do so, but you should be aware that you are making a choice.

Instead, you can save them in your own template(s). If such a template is placed in the Word Startup Folder, the modifications will apply in all documents. Taking the template(s) out of that folder removes the customizations from Word. This is the easiest way to make customizations you may want to remove or may want to share with others. (Normal.dotm should never be a shared file.) Such a resource template is called a Global Template. See Modifying the QAT for more on QAT storage locations.

Modifications made to the Ribbon through the Interface are stored in a file called Word15.CustomUI. This file is not something you should transfer to another user or computer. Word does allow you to export and import ribbon customizatons, but such a import is an all-or-nothing proposition and wipes any existing customizations. If you want Ribbon customizations only to certain templates or want to be able to easily transfer ribbon customizations without wiping out existing ones, explore XML modification. Customize the Ribbon (It doesn't take rocket science)

Here is a free Add-In you can download contains such a global template.

Jay Freedman has a different Add-In that uses a custom dialog box instead of the classic dialog box. It is available as a free download from his MacroZone site. The name of the download is



Back to Table of Contents
Word 97-2000 File New Dialog

Word 2002-2003 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2007 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2010 Changes - Potential Modifications

Word 2013-21 Changes - Potential Modifications

You can reach me by e-mail.

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