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Make Word 2007 Always Save in Word 2003 Format

After a dozen times of accidentally sending a Word 2007 document to co-workers still stuck on Office 2003, I’ve decided to make Word save in the Word 2003 format by default. (you can do the same thing in Excel)

To change this setting, click on the Office Button in the upper left hand corner.

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Now click the Word Options button in the menu.

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Click on the Save tab, and then change the drop-down menu for “Save files in this format” to be “Word 97-2003 Document”.  

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Now you won’t send the wrong format by accident anymore.

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 06/29/07

Comments (56)

  1. M. Funes

    This is a great site.

    Can you help me? Where oh whee is the old formula command that so neatly added up my column in Word 97?

    Nobody I know can answer this question.

  2. Rick Henderson

    I just recently learned it was even possible! But to answer M. Funes’ question, check the Layout tab and the Group Group.

    https://lucy.uwec.edu/help/Word07/tb-calc.htm

    ( I got a warning when I visited the site in Firefox but I could still get to it ).

  3. Carl

    Do you have a reg key that will make all of office 2003 save in the 2003 format.

  4. Diane Farrell

    Please help if you can…I have Cable Internet. My configuration ended up with the Cable. It seems I can’t do email fulnctions within 2003 Word. I was told to made Word my default email. How do I do this??? I know this sounds really simple; maybe that’s why I can’t put it together.

  5. Donna Evans

    I am trying to create a macro.

    I want the following information in a footer:

    Path & Filename
    Name, Current Date, Current Time

    Each time I play the macro, I get a runtime error.

  6. michael

    This works flawlessly for Excel but my Word won’t save the settings (it’s still saving the doc in 2007 format instead of 2003). Is there something else i need to do to have Word save the 97-2003 as the default format?

  7. MarcoH

    @Carl

    Here’s the reg key to make office 97-2003 the default format

    [HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Excel\Options]
    “DefaultFormat”=dword:00000038

    Enjoy!

  8. Tomek

    Hey MarcoH, that’s so cool!

    Thanks a lot!

  9. Jessica

    This site was useful

  10. Tony Wansa

    how do i use the below thing which you have said,

    Here’s the reg key to make office 97-2003 the default format

    [HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Excel\Options]
    “DefaultFormat”=dword:00000038

    Enjoy!

  11. The Geek

    @Tony

    That’s really useful, thanks!

  12. Stuart

    The advice on how to change the ‘Default’ format in office 2007 applications is useful and fairly well publiced now. However, there is still an issue that no one has addressed. When you click on the Office Button and then mouse over the ‘Save As’ the first option on the list is to save in the default format (this is NOT effected by changing your default save format) this option will ALWAYS save in 2007 format.

    We continually have our office staff clicking this first option because it does not state it is the 2007 format. I’ve looked everywhere on how to disable this menu item or at least re-name or re-order the list so they don’t select it by accident.

    Any advice.

  13. hoang

    thanks a lot! it’s so annoying because i always forget to select the 2003 version, so then i can never open the newer docx files on school computers.

  14. monkey

    Info on making reg file:

    Open a blank notepad copy and paste the key into it:

    [HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Excel\Options]
    “DefaultFormat”=dword:00000038

    do file save as

    save it to your desktop or something

    call it: office2007fix.reg

    in “save as type” set it to all files

    now you have a reg file on your desktop if you double click it, it will run

  15. Stuart

    I checked the registry for this key and it is alreay set to 00000038. This does not effect the save as default on an existing document.

    Thanks though for the help.

  16. Caleb

    Thanks, very good tutorial

  17. Coerte Voorhees

    Per the suggestion at top of page, I click on the Office Button in the upper left hand corner, then click the Word Options button in the menu, I CANNOT select “Save” as an option. Only “popular”

    any sugestions?

  18. TMES

    Most of them give the solution directly without any steps in which most of them can’t able to understand.
    To go to registry Click on start button–>go to run–>type “regedit”. and search for [HKCurrent User\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Excel\Options]
    “DefaultFormat”=dword:00000038.

  19. Clark

    Will this regedit entry force the 97-2003 save format for ALL users on a multi-user PC? I have PCs placed around a plant with 5-25 different users logging onto each of them. I have found the default settings to be profile-dependent, with the settings having to be changed in each office program, for every user. Many of them have roaming profiles as well, and don’t know if that will affect this issue. I guess I will have to test this out on one box and see how it goes… Thanks for sharing this info, though, anyway!

  20. Clark

    I tried this reg entry and it did not change anything for me. Not for me as a user or any other test user I logged on with. Word, Excel, Access, and Powerpoint were all still defaulting to new xml formats.

  21. MJ

    How about having your coworkers install the compatibility filter? After all, I imagine you aren’t the only one sending them files in the new formats.

    Here’s the link: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=941b3470-3ae9-4aee-8f43-c6bb74cd1466&DisplayLang=en

  22. Clark

    MJ, thanks for the response, but we have had hit/miss results with the compatability pack. I found the answer I was looking for in MS Technet forum: the Office Customization Tool (OCT) which comes built into every office installation. Simply run setup with an /admin switch, and it comes up with a window in tree form which allows you to customize just about anything that can be, and saves it into a .MSP installer package which can be saved to a network location and just clicked on to revise an existing installation or put into the install directory to be automatically found and implemented during new installations. Check it out at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc179097.aspx

  23. Sunil

    I have a VBA addin developed in VC++ 6.0 and has been embedded in Word 2003. Its a Mailmerge utility interfacing Pascal to retrieve data, apart from this the data is stored in to ACCESS using SQL queries after retrieval.

    The problem here is when ever i click on SAVEAS button in Word 2003 i get a message saying “The Macro Cannot be found or has been disabled because of your macro settings.” but here the Macro secuirity settings are very much low and i have enabled all macros in fact.

    Kindly let me know if any help can be done regarding this

  24. Marvin

    I need help. I have a Windows vista notebook. I design my own business cards with pics. I save them as documents. But when I want to attach them to my e-mail to forward to clients, they cannot open document and I cannot open document on my vista system. I tried to convert my word 2007 to save documents as word 2003 just like the steps suggested above, but the save tab on word 2007 will not let me click. Please help my by providing me with a solution without having to buy software to correct this. I have basic computer skills (Not computer literate)
    Thank you,
    Marvin

  25. Marvin

    Cannot send my saved documents with vista. I design my own brochures with pic for my business. I tried converting my word 2007 on vista system to word 2003 using the steps provided above, but when I get to the click on save, it will not let me click on save to convert to word 2003. Please help me correct this problem.
    Thank you,
    Marvin

  26. Harikrishnan

    I have a VBA addin developed in VC++ 6.0 and has been embedded in Word 2003. Its a Mailmerge utility interfacing Pascal to retrieve data, apart from this the data is stored in to ACCESS using SQL queries after retrieval.

    The problem here is when ever i click on SAVEAS button in Word 2003 i get a message saying “The Macro Cannot be found or has been disabled because of your macro settings.” but here the Macro secuirity settings are very much low and i have enabled all macros in fact.

    Kindly let me know if any help can be done regarding this

  27. thuvarakan

    thank you for your information,it is use full to me.

  28. Rob

    Another option is to download the free compatibility pack from Microsoft that will allow Office 2003 to read 2007 files:
    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HA100444731033.aspx

  29. Kiran

    Thanks for the help,this website allways rocks :) keep up the good job.

  30. Sam

    I have just been sent a 2007 document and need to work on it urgently – does anybody know how to change it into 2003 format?

    Somebody once said there is a site you can send them through that changes them?

    Thank you!

  31. Clark

    See Rob’s post a few above to download the MS Compatability pack and install. YOu will then be able to open and edit it.

  32. Henco

    wow thanks for all the nice “how To’s” :-)

  33. Mohit

    Thanks. This was useful indeed!
    Cheers!

  34. Dave

    Any ideas on how to change the default created on the desktop to the older office?

    I usually create new files be right clicking on the desktop and selecting “new” then “word document” or “excel spreadsheet”, and it always defaults to creating a 2007 format file (.docx or .xlsx)

  35. Kevin

    None of this is working for me. Once I login to Windows Vista and change my Save Options in Word 2007, I’m fine during my login session but as soon as I reboot, all the settings are reverted back to .docx. I asked our network Admin if they’ve set an override in the network and they said, no. So I’m baffled as to why my settings are erased each time I reboot!!! Any ideas?

  36. Ahmed Salim

    Hi
    I was worried bcoz of conversion from MSword-2007 to MSword-2003. Due to this website, i got help.
    Thank you.
    best regards
    Ahmed

  37. David smith

    Thank you! Thank you! and Thank you. Save me lots of time.

  38. Issy

    thanks very much for this! I always had trouble sending my work to school cause I have 2007 and they’re in the old times and have 2003. so I had to buy a memory stick….I’m not even sure you want to read this haha! but thank you very much!

  39. harris

    I just installed my office 07 and this was the first thing to do! thanks a lot!!!

  40. egac67

    How to disable or remove the option to “Save as Template” from Word 2007?

  41. simo

    i did my work in micro soft windows 2003 and now i am using windows 2007 but there is no compatibility and i am worried loosing my files and documents

  42. Ramon Cook

    I have followed your instructions to save into the Word 2003 format. But my email is constantly reverting back to docx mode. Help.

  43. Dax

    Thanx! your info helps a lot. ^^

  44. blaise

    Excellent – thanks for the tip. Very useful!

  45. jaya amin

    these ms 2007 are good soft for comparing to other vertion. but it is created one draw back.if we are saved in equetion for 2003. then next time its impossible for editing&its convert photo formate.so how we should corecting this problem?

  46. Harwinder

    how to open a word 2007 doc in computer with only word 2003

  47. G.M.

    Hey, I just wanted to state the fact that this also works on Microsoft Powerpoint 2007. Thanks for you help

  48. Daffy

    i have word 2003

  49. Daffy

    you guys are awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  50. satish saini

    hi friend I am in a trouble Pls help me urgent
    I have MS word 2003 and i have got a mail with MS word 2007 File and I have not open the file so pls given to me a way that can i access this file without Compatibility Pack;
    Pls mail to me on satishsaini123@gmail.com

  51. chinni

    Hi,

    Hava a great time to all.

  52. Bobby

    @ satish saini from the email right click on the file and choose save as save it as a rtf file. you might loose sofe if any embedded feature in the file. like the type of font, , images ,charts or stuff like that. but you would be able to opne in Word 2003

  53. DHINAKARAN K

    Sir,
    This is an excellent site. this had given a ready and quick and easy way to geek. other sites give a elaborate way. Thanking you,
    dhinakaran.

  54. Rocky Choudhary

    Thank u Very munch that is great ???????????

  55. MAURICIO

    por favor necesito enviar en formato 97-2003 mi hoja de vida para un empleo como puedo hacer gracias.
    please i need send in 97-2003 format my resume for a job as I can do thanks.

  56. Crystal

    Lets say I saved 64 files in the word 2007 version but now I want to share these files and the recipient has a word 2003 version. Is there a way for me to convert the files (64) by bulk instead of individually?

    Please save me asap.

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