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By default Word and other documents are displayed within IE rather than in an instance of the application. It's an easy setting to change, once found.

How do I get Word documents on the web to show up in Word, rather than my browser?

This actually applies to many document types including Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more. The common default behavior for those documents on the web is to open up within your browser. For casual surfing that may be enough but if you're like me you're more comfortable with those documents within their native applications. The good news is that for most document types it's a quick and easy fix.

These instructions assume Windows XP but other versions of Windows are very similar if not identical in most steps.

  • Fire up windows explorer (I like using WindowsKey-E as a quick shortcut or right-click on "My Computer" and select "Explore").
  • Select the Tools menu
  • Click on Folder Options
  • Click on the File Types tab.
  • In the list of Registered File Types scroll down to the file extension that corresponds to the application you want to change. For example ".doc" for Word documents.
  • Click on the Advanced button.
  • Deselect the checkbox Browse in Same Window.
  • Press OK and repeat for any other document types you wish.

Occasionally you will encounter document types for which the Browse in Same Window option is grayed. In this case you should check the application associated with that document type for an equivalent option. Adobe Acrobat is one example on my system. If you fire up Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader it has its own option Display PDF in Browser that you can turn off.

Article C1863 - November 22, 2003 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

October 22, 2004 10:35 AM

Any idea where this setting is held in the registry? I have a few hundred systems I need to change and I would like to script the change.

Mick P
January 25, 2006 5:27 PM

extract registry to file

do changes

extract new reg to file

run windiff on both files.

problem solved


June 17, 2007 10:45 PM

How can I get word files to open in word on a Vista machine using Office 2003 instead of Internet Explorer. The browse in same window option is no longer available.

Bruce from Brisbane, Australia
August 25, 2010 10:12 PM

Beaut article, but it doesn't work for .Dot's. Also, I want my .Dot to open up with full Word - meaning that it runs the VBA code behind when run from a website. How do I do that?

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