Using the Traditional Save/Open Dialog Box in Microsoft Office

By default, when you hit Save or when you try to open a file, the latest versions of Word and other Microsoft Office applications will use a new kind of window called the Backstage. As Microsoft wrote, the backstage “is everything that you do to a file that you don’t do in the file.”

A view of the new Save As dialog box, aka the Backstage

In this window, you can access your recent files and folders, go to different cloud and local folders, pin favorites (and have different ones for each Office app), and so on.

It’s quite similar and at the same time quite different from the old dialog box. And it’s much better in many ways, at least because it makes better use of Windows 10 accessibility features. But I find it worse for one thing: changing folder.

And that’s something I do all the time.

Maybe it’s me being used to the old way of doing things, but I find it much faster and straightforward (less clicks required) to change location using the old window.

Sure, the old dialog box is messier, and it is harder to read with my bad eyesight, but either using the Quick Access sidebar or using the plain old editable path, I find it so much faster than having to click, and click, and click again and again, before I reach the folder I want:

The old Save As dialog box, with it's editable path in the top and the File Explorer Quick Access shortcuts in the sidebar

If Microsoft was to add a similar editable path (the text selected in blue, in the top of the dialog box) in its Backstage view, I wouldn’t need the old Save/Open dialog box anymore. Meanwhile…

Access the old Save/Open dialog box, when you need it

You like the new Backstage view, but would like to access the old dialog box when you need it? Easy: instead of hitting Ctrl+S, or go to the File tab to save a new file, use F12. It’s the built-in shortcut to the old Save as dialog box.

Permanently disable the Backstage view

You don’t want to use the Backstage at all? As it often is the case with Microsoft Office, there is an option to get things the way you want them to be, you just need to dig around.

In our case, it’s quite straightforward: go to File->Options, click the Save section in the sidebar, and check Don’t show the Backstage when opening or saving files with the keyboard shortcuts. Validate.

Save options, displayed in Word/Office 365.

From now on, as long as you use the keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+S, Ctrl+O, and of course the F12 we mentioned earlier), you will open the old dialog box—using the File tab will still get you to the Backstage view.

8 thoughts on “Using the Traditional Save/Open Dialog Box in Microsoft Office”

  1. Another option is to add the “Save As” shortcut icon to the Quick Access Toolbar…which is located at the top of the window. That shortcut will open the old style dialog box. You will have to select the “more commands” option and then search through the options for “save as” then add it to the menu list on the right.

  2. You’re a genius. As much as Microsoft tries to ‘help’, I wish it would take onboard user views first. At least there is an option to return this to how we like it.

  3. Very helpful article – thanks. Yeah, for me many of the new UI changes are just awful! . But the best thing to know really is use F12 – because that is a fast keyboard shortcut that you can then use on any PC in the future. . The complaint here is not if you do / don´´´ t like the new UI, but why have Microsoft made the option to browse to save a file to a location so awkward? There is plenty of available space on the Backstage View / UI to have a button or shortcut for opening the old “Save As” dialog box. And there is also plenty of space to put in a tooltip to inform the user of the F12 shortcut! . cheers!

  4. Ohhh man this is great info. Backstage is the worst. I mean, I wouldn’t mind seeing the REAL file dialog box in a Backstage skin (hint hint) but I don’t want to see two screens when I only need the one.

    I can see how Backstage would be useful to my mom who has no idea where her files are stored and only uses 3 files every six months. I open a new file every 10 minutes and the Backstage recent tab is useless to me.

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