Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 3, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


2

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 an event handler 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 must be placed in the ThisWorkbook module and will be run whenever the workbook is opened. The 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:

Private Sub Workbook_Open()
    Worksheets(1).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, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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. ...

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What is 3 + 4?

2023-06-03 14:40:00

J. Woolley

The Tip's first Workbook_Open event procedure will not function as intended if the active sheet is a chart sheet when the workbook is opened. If the active sheet is a worksheet, it puts the value TRUE in the first blank cell in column A (which probably was not intended). Here is a better version:

Private Sub Workbook_Open()
On Error Resume Next
Worksheets(1).Cells(1).Find vbNullString, SearchOrder:=xlByColumns
End Sub

This will do nothing if the workbook contains only chart sheets, but Find does not work with chart sheets anyway.
The following Find parameters are persistent: LookIn, LookAt, SearchOrder, and MatchCase (not MatchByte as documented). The previous procedure only addresses SearchOrder. The Tip's second Workbook_Open event procedure also modifies LookIn, LookAt, and MatchCase. LookIn is usually Formulas by default, but the Tip's second procedure changes LookAt to Whole ("Match entire cell contents") and MatchCase to True, so it is not "essentially the same" as the first.


2023-06-03 05:26:03

Mike J

Placing the first macro in PERSONAL.xlsb works too.

I suspect there are many defaults that can be altered this way, without having to open any other workbooks.


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