The find and replace feature in Microsoft Word is an extremely useful tool that makes the correction of some writing errors very quick work.
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A writer might be working on a book manuscript and suddenly realize he’d used an incorrect name for a character. He might have made the mistake once. He might have misnamed the character several times throughout the manuscript.
Either way, the find and replace feature in Microsoft Word (and most other writing software) makes it easy to quickly replace that character’s name with the correct one.
How do you find and replace in Word?
Finding the replace feature in MS Word is sometimes not so easy. How to search and replace in Word varies, depending on which version of Microsoft Word you are using—Windows or Mac.
There are multiple ways to get to the find feature in both Windows and Mac, but in both all the ways to get there take you to the same tool. The features are almost entirely the same, but you go about it in a slightly different way in Word for Windows than on Word for Mac.
Note: These instructions are specifically for Word for Microsoft 365, but should also apply to earlier versions back to Word 2010. They may apply partially to versions earlier than 2010.
How to search and replace in Word for Windows
There are a few different ways to find and replace in Word for Windows. They all lead to the same options. Use the method for opening the search box that is simplest for you. Keep reading to learn how to find a word in Microsoft Word for Windows.
Here’s how to locate the find and replace tool in MS Word for Windows.
- From the Home Ribbon, look for the Editing section which will probably be toward the far right end. Select Replace.
- Hold the Control (Ctrl) key and H at the same time.
- Type Replace in the search box at the top center of Word, above the Ribbon.
- From the View Ribbon, the fourth section from the left is labeled Show. In that section tick the box next to Navigation to open the Navigation pane on the left side of your screen. Click the magnifying glass icon at the top of the Navigation pane. You’ll see a search bar appear. Type a word in the box to search or click the down arrow next the search box for more extensive search options.
Any of the four methods listed above will open the same Find and Replace tool. Now that you’ve found the search tool, here’s how you find and replace in Word for Windows.
How to find a word in Microsoft Word on a Windows computer.
There are three tabs at the top of the Find and Replace tool:
- Go To
Perhaps you just need to locate a word, say a character’s name so that you can remember what she said or wore in that scene. If that’s the case, the Find tab will be all you need.
Open the Find tab and type the word you’re searching for there. Further down, you’ll see a checkbox that allows you to match case. Tick that box if you want to search only for words that are capitalized in some places and not in others.
For example, you might have a character whose last name is Carver. A different character is a wood carver. That’s a lame example, I know, but moving on, to find only those relating to the character named Carver, you would tick the box to Match case.
If you want to find more places where you used the word in question, click the Find Next button. Repeat that until you’ve found all that you needed to find.
Let’s say you intended to use a different name for Carver. You’d like to quickly replace the word Carver with Smith. The Replace tab will help you quickly take care of that.
- Open the Replace tab.
- In the box labeled Find what: type the word you wish to replace.
- In the box labeled Replace with: type the word you want to use in place of the other.
Use the Replace and Next buttons to go through the occurrences of the first word. Use the Replace All button to replace them all at once. Which one you use depends on how sure you are about the word you wish to replace. If you’re confident no unnecessary words will be replaced, just use the Replace All. The swap will be made instantly.
How to search and replace in Word for Mac
Like the Windows version of Microsoft Office, the Mac provides more than one way to find and replace words. Like the Windows version, all of the paths lead to the same find and replace tool with the same options. The only difference is which route you take to locate the find and replace tool. One way may be faster than another, but none is better. Use the method that you find easiest to understand and use.
Here’s how to locate the find and replace tool in MS Word on a Mac.
- From the View Ribbon, the third section from the left contains checkboxes to display Ruler, Gridlines, and Navigation Pane. Tick the box next to Navigation Pane to open the Navigation pane on the left side of your screen. Click the magnifying glass icon at the top of the Navigation pane. You’ll see a search bar appear. Click the down arrow next to the search box for more extensive search options.
- From the Edit menu, look for Find. When you mouse over or click Find, a second menu will appear from which you can choose Find… and Replace…, along with a few other choices. Choose Replace…
- Use Command + F, or click the magnifying glass icon in the very top right corner of Word. Either will open the search bar window. With top right search bar open, click the magnifying glass on the left end of the search box. Choose Replace…
How to find a word in Microsoft Word on a Mac computer.
All of the methods listed above lead to the same Find and Replace tool in the Navigation sidebar. Here’s how you use that tool to find and replace words in Microsoft Word for Mac.
Remember to select the magnifying glass icon at the top of navigation bar.
If all you need to do is a simple find and replace:
- Type the word you want to search for in the top box.
- Type the replacement word in the second box.
If you wish to cycle through each instance of the word, perhaps to be certain you really do want to swap the word every time it appears, click the Replace button.
If you wish to replace all instances of the word at the same time, click the Replace All button.
Click the gear icon between the two search boxes if you want to be a little more specific with your search regarding upper and lowercase. Uncheck Ignore Case if you want to specifically search for words with uppercase letters in them.
For even more search and replace options, click the gear icon, then select Advanced Find & Replace… at the bottom the menu. You’ll find options for finding and replacing things other than words, but because this article focuses on finding and replacing words, many of the addition options go beyond the scope of this particular article.
So, how do you find and replace in Word? You’ve seen just simple it can be.
You’ll find more of our Microsoft Word tutorials here.
You can find more detailed information about finding and replacing in Microsoft Word in Microsoft.com’s support pages.