Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Searching by Columns, by Default.

Searching by Columns, by Default

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 28, 2021)

3

When you use the Find command, Excel defaults to "search by row" as the order it will use in looking for information. Your needs may vary, however; you may have a need to search by column most of the time. You can certainly change this setting when you start the search, but wouldn't it be nice to change the default so that Excel starts out by searching columns?

Unfortunately, there is no setting that you can specify so that Excel remembers how you want to do your search. You can, however, use a macro to set the default searching order. Consider the following example:

Private Sub Workbook_Open()
    On Error Resume Next
    Cells.Find("", , , , xlByColumns, , , False) = True
End Sub

This macro does nothing but change the search order to columns. After it is run (in other words, after you open the workbook), subsequent searches will default to searching by column.

The fact that Excel remembers the last-used search order for all subsequent searches during the current Excel session can be used to your advantage. The following macro does essentially the same thing as the previous example, except it also closes the workbook:

Sub Auto_Open()
    Worksheets("sheet1").Cells.Find _
      What:="", _
      After:=ActiveCell, _
      LookIn:=xlFormulas, _
      LookAt:=xlWhole, _
      SearchOrder:=xlByColumns, _
      SearchDirection:=xlNext, _
      MatchCase:=True

    ThisWorkbook.Close savechanges:=False
End Sub

If you put this macro into a blank workbook and then save the workbook in your xlStart folder, it would be opened every time you start Excel. When opened, the workbook does a single search using the settings you want, and then closes itself. The net result is that your search order is set to columns, and subsequent searches will occur the way you want them to.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12494) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Searching by Columns, by Default.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Counting Wins and Losses

Need to count the number of W (win) or L (loss) characters in a range of cells? You can develop a number of formulaic ...

Discover More

Exfoliation

Exfoliation—the removal of dead cells from the topmost layer of your skin—is all the rage at spas and ...

Discover More

Using Sequential Document Serial Numbers

Need to add a unique serial number to each printed copy of your document? Here's a quick way to print such numbered versions.

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Wildcards in 'Replace With' Text

When doing searches in Excel, you can use wildcard characters in the specification of what you are searching. However, ...

Discover More

Replacing in Worksheets and Comments At the Same Time

If you need to replace information that may appear in cells, comments, and text boxes, your best bet is to use a macro. ...

Discover More

Finding Cells Filled with a Particular Color

Do you need to find cells that are formatted with a particular color? How you accomplish this task depends on your ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four less than 7?

2021-07-01 15:28:34

J. Woolley

@Caroline
Put the following VBA in a workbook's ThisWorkbook module. Whenever you open that workbook (.xlsm), the specified Look in:, Match entire..., and Search: parameters of the Find/Replace dialog will be set. These will persist until changed and apply to all workbooks until Excel is closed.

Private Sub Workbook_Open()
' modify Find/Replace defaults; edit Const values as desired
Const LookIn = xlValues ' default is xlFormulas
Const LookAt = xlWhole ' default is xlPart
Const SearchOrder = xlByColumns ' default is xlByRows
ActiveCell.Find vbNullString, , LookIn, LookAt, SearchOrder
End Sub

See https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office/vba/api/excel.range.find
and https://sites.google.com/view/MyExcelToolbox/


2021-06-30 08:39:00

Caroline

It would also be great to have Excel look in Values instead of in Formulas by default. Is there a way to do that?


2017-09-30 11:07:05

V.S.Rawat

It is so cruel of MS that they didn't give an in built option to switch between column-wise or row-wise find-replace.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.