Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Searching by Columns, by Default.

Searching by Columns, by Default

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 27, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


When you use the Find command, Excel defaults to "search by row" as the order it will use in looking for information. Your needs may vary, however; you may have a need to search by column most of the time. You can certainly change this setting when you start the search, but wouldn't it be nice to change the default so that Excel starts out by searching columns?

Unfortunately, there is no setting that you can specify so that Excel remembers how you want to do your search. You can, however, use a macro to set the default searching order. Consider the following example:

Private Sub Workbook_Open()
    On Error Resume Next
    Cells.Find("", , , , xlByColumns, , , False) = True
End Sub

This macro does nothing but change the search order to columns. After it is run (in other words, after you open the workbook), subsequent searches will default to searching by column.

The fact that Excel remembers the last-used search order for all subsequent searches during the current Excel session can be used to your advantage. The following macro does essentially the same thing as the previous example, except it also closes the workbook:

Sub Auto_Open()
    Worksheets("sheet1").Cells.Find _
      What:="", _
      After:=ActiveCell, _
      LookIn:=xlFormulas, _
      LookAt:=xlWhole, _
      SearchOrder:=xlByColumns, _
      SearchDirection:=xlNext, _
      MatchCase:=True

    ThisWorkbook.Close savechanges:=False
End Sub

If you put this macro into a blank workbook and then saved the workbook in your xlStart folder, it would be opened every time you start Excel. When opened, the workbook does a single search using the settings you want, and then closes itself. The net result is that your search order is set to columns, and subsequent searches will occur the way you want them to.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3913) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Searching by Columns, by Default.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Changing the Footnote Separator

When you print a document that uses footnotes, Word normally places a small line between the end of the document body ...

Discover More

Detailed Measurements

Want to know exactly how far something on the ruler is from the left and right margins of your document? It's easy to ...

Discover More

Weird Document Numbers

By default, Word numbers any new documents you create. If you notice that the numbers used by Word are rather strange, ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Using Find and Replace to Pre-Pend Characters

Need to add some characters to the beginning of the contents in a range of cells? It's not as easy as you might hope, but ...

Discover More

Finding Text in Text Boxes

Want to search for text that may appear in a text box rather than in a regular worksheet cell? You can only perform the ...

Discover More

Searching for Wildcards

Wildcard characters can be used within the Find and Replace tool, but what if you want to actually search for those ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 0 + 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.