If you frequently find yourself wanting to edit the same document you were using in your last Word session, you can create a shortcut which does just this, using a command-line switch.

If you're running a 64-bit version of Windows, notice the somewhat different path to the winword.exe file.

Here’s how:

  1. Right-click an empty spot on your desktop and choose New -> Shortcut from the pop-up menu.
  2. Click the Browse button and locate the winword.exe program. If you installed Word in the default folder and you’re using Word 2003, you’ll find it in:
  3. C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11

    If you’re using Word 2007, it’s in:

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12

  4. Click winword.exe when you locate it and then click Open. Windows will automatically fill the location box with the full pathname surrounded by quotation marks.
  5. Click within the location box and, after the closing quotation marks, add a space followed by /mfile1, then click Next.
  6. Give your shortcut a name, such as Last Word, and click Finish.
  7. If you like, drag your newly created shortcut onto the Quick Launch bar to the right of the Start button to make it easier to use.

Windows 7 does it for you

If you’re using Windows 7, you don’t need to go to this trouble, of course. Instead, you can use the jump list to select any recently edited document – just right-click the Word icon in the taskbar or Start Menu. If there’s a document you edit frequently, you can pin it to the top of the jump list to make sure it’s always available.

Put them somewhere handy

I like to place both shortcuts side by side in the Quick Launch bar: the normal Word shortcut and my Last Word shortcut. That way, I can choose whether to launch Word with a blank document or with the last-edited document pre-loaded. I distinguish between the two by altering the icon for the Last Word shortcut:

  1. Right-click the Last Word shortcut and select Properties from the pop-up menu.
  2. On the Shortcut tab, click Change Icon.
  3. Click one of the alternative icons and click OK.

Almost the same thing with a macro

Note that it’s also possible to open the last-edited document using a macro, but this method has the drawback of making Word always launch with that document loaded. If that’s what you want to do, here’s how to create the macro:

  1. Press Alt+F8 to display the Macros dialog.
  2. Type AutoExec in the Macro Name box and click Create. The Visual Basic Editor will load.
  3. In the code window on the right, you’ll see that Word has automatically created a code stub for the AutoExec macro. Between the Sub AutoExec() and End Sub statements, on a line by itself, type:
  4. RecentFiles(1).Open

  5. Close the Visual Basic editor.

The commands you stick in a macro named AutoExec run automatically whenever you launch Microsoft Word, so creating this AutoExec macro will open the most recently edited document every time you launch Word.