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: Changing Default Search Settings.

Changing Default Search Settings

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 23, 2014)

When Dan displays the Find dialog box, the default settings are to search within worksheet and to look in formulas. He would like the default to be within workbook and to look in values, so he is wondering if there is a way to change the default.

Excel doesn't allow you to specify what settings you want for a default in the Find dialog box. There is a bit of a way around this seeming limitation, however—at least a partial way. Excel remembers the last settings in the Find dialog box for the entire Excel session. (The settings are not reset until you exit and restart Excel.) This means that all you need to do is create a small macro that will set the settings you want in the dialog box.

There are two ways you can do this. The first is to create a macro that sets the options in the dialog box directly, such as this:

Sub SetFind1()
    Application.Dialogs(xlDialogFormulaFind).Show,2,2
End Sub

The second way is to utilize the Find method of the Cells object, in this manner:

Sub SetFind2()
    Dim c As Range
    c = Cells.Find(What:="", LookIn:=xlValues, LookAt:=xlPart)
End Sub

Either of these will work just fine, to a point. (More about that in a moment.) All you need to do is run the macro when you first start Excel, either manually or as part of an Auto_Open macro. The settings in the dialog box are then changed for the remainder of the Excel session, unless you manually change them.

Now, to the point. It seems that there is no way to change the Within setting of the dialog box. This setting defaults to looking in the Worksheet. You can manually change it to Workbook, and Excel will dutifully remember the setting for your current session. However, you cannot seem to change the setting within VBA. You'll note that neither of the sample macros, above, change this particular setting. Further, if you record a macro in which you change the two settings (Within and Look In), you end up with something that looks like this:

Sub Macro1()
'
' Macro1 Macro
'
'
    Sheets("Sheet1").Select
    Cells.Find(What:="", After:=ActiveCell, LookIn:=xlValues, _
        LookAt:=xlPart, SearchOrder:=xlByRows, _
        SearchDirection:=xlNext, MatchCase:=False).Activate
End Sub

If you save the workbook in which this macro exists, restart Excel, and then examine the settings in the Find dialog box (press Ctrl+F), you'll note that the settings are back to the default of searching within the worksheet and looking in formulas. Run the macro and then look at the dialog box again; you should see that the settings are for looking in values within the worksheet; the macro doesn't set the Within setting, even though you recorded it when you set Within to Workbook.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8801) 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: Changing Default Search Settings.

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. ...

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