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Add Word/Excel 97-2003 Documents Back to the "New" Context Menu After Installing Office 2007

If you are using Office 2007 in an environment where everybody else is using Office 2003, you might have already set Excel or Word to always save to 2003 format, but what about when you create new documents using the New menu? The only choices are now to create files in 2007 format, but we can add the old ones back.

In case you aren’t sure what I mean, just right-click on the desktop and choose New from the context menu, and you’ll see Microsoft Office Word Document in the list, which creates a blank .docx file.

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We can add the old item back to the list with a simple registry hack.

Manual Registry Hack

The “New” items are stored under the file type definition, under a ShellNew key. In order to create a blank document, you have to add a key named Nullfile to the right-hand side.

Open up regedit.exe through the start menu search or run box, and then browse down to the following key for the .doc extension:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.doc\Word.Document.8\ShellNew

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Simply create a new string value on the right-hand side and name it Nullfile. You might have to wait a few minutes before it shows up in the New list, or you can always log out and back in.

You can do the same for the .xls file extension for Excel 97-2003 documents by browsing down to this key, and create the same Nullfile value on the right-hand side.

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.xls\Excel.Sheet.8\ShellNew

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For Powerpoint 97-2003 you can browse down to the following key, creating the value again like before.

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.ppt\PowerPoint.Show.8\ShellNew

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You should see the items on the right-hand side now, but if you don’t you may have to wait a few minutes or log out and back in.

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Downloadable Registry Hack

You can simply download, extract, and then double-click on one of the included files to add the information into the registry. Each file is named according to the document type. There’s also included files to remove them as well.

Download AddOffice2003DocumentsToNewMenu Registry Hack

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 08/17/08

Comments (11)

  1. m0d3sty

    hi, i got this same prob but my solution is to immediately configure all default settings in all mso2k7 to save to pre 2007 formats. because i do some software development, access defaults to 97 :-)

    can you provide some information on cloning my vista business edition? i’d like to move from 40gb drive to 120gb drive. please talk about tools other than trueimage and rsync (robocopy)

  2. Brian

    Great article, works perfectly for word documents. However when i try and open a new .xls file from right-click new Microsoft Office Excel 97-2003 Worksheet I get the following error in Excel 2007:

    The file you are trying to open, ‘test.xls’ is in a different format than specified by the file extension . . .

    Then if you say yes to the error message and enter a few characters in the worksheet and then save, it throws a warning :
    test.xls may contain features that are not compatible with Text (Tab Delimited). Do you want to keep the workbook in this format?

    Looks like the reg hack is making the default as .csv, rather than the old .xls . . .

    Any thoughts on how to get the old .xls to work?

  3. Jean

    I have the same problem, but if run this :

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.xls\Excel.Sheet.8\ShellNew]
    “FileName”=”excel4.xls”

    the message box don’t appears.
    bye

  4. Sunil Satpal

    Thanks a lot it helped me.

  5. Suchismita

    Thanks heaps. It worked!

  6. Zoroark

    Unfortunately it did not work, I don’t know why! :-(

  7. Jason

    I have the same issue with Brian above. I believe this has to do with ’03 office not installed on the machine. It creates a new .txt, but saves it as .xls. When you open it in excel, excel will throw some errors. My only work around right now is to save as .xls before I enter any data. If you close without doing a save as, it will delete all other tabs, so you must do a save as.

    I don’t know how to apply Jean’s fix.

  8. Pavlos

    Yes..I have the same problem with Jason and Brian…

  9. ak66208@gmail.com

    Very very help ful I try it and problem was solved thanks.

  10. Daniel

    The way this is written creates a blank nullfile, which may or may not work depending on security settings and if it opens seems to generate an error about it being an empty file.

    Using: “FileName”=”excel4.xls”
    may also not be allowed due to security settings. (blocked due to Excel4 macro virus..)

    Using: “FileName”=”excel.xls”
    better, but this creates a Excel 95 file (Biff5). (No errors, but have to ‘save as’ the first time you use it to get the 97-2003 format.)

    Biff8 is Excel 2003 & Biff12 is Excel 2007, but I don’t know what the file name needs to be set to force office to generate the correct file. Any ideas?

  11. Kits

    I tried with the Nullfile option running Ms 2003 on Win 7. It does not work, the right click menu under new —

    Any suggestions???????????????????

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