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

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 13, 2013)

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.

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

Opening Documents in Print Layout View

If you have a Word 2003 document that always seems to open in reading layout mode, you may want to turn that "feature" off. ...

Discover More

Increasing Font Size In Worksheet Tabs

While Excel does not have an intrinsic way to change the font in on a worksheet tab, Windows does.

Discover More

Quickly Selecting Cells

Need to quickly select a range of cells? Perhaps the easiest way is to use both the mouse and the keyboard together, as ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Searching for All

When you are working on a worksheet (particularly a large one), you may want to search for and possibly copy information from ...

Discover More

Limitations On Finding Characters

When you search for information in a worksheet, you expect Excel to return results that make sense. If you don't get a search ...

Discover More

Wildcards in 'Replace With' Text

When doing searches in Excel, you can use wildcard characters in the specification of what you are searching. However, you ...

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}] 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 4 + 3?

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.