Modifying Built-in Buttons in "My Places"

[Editor’s note: This week’s feature article comes from Dan A. Wilson, a true gentleman and an editor’s editor. Dan explains how to modify even the *built-in* buttons on Word’s “My Places” toolbar. Don’t want a “Desktop” button getting in your way? Dan explains how to remove it–and much more. I really appreciate Dan’s generosity in supplying this information. If you’re not already familiar with Dan’s work, you’ll definitely want to visit his Web site, the Editor’s DeskTop, where he has still more useful information that every editor should read:

While you’re there, check out Dan’s editing services. Then, when you really need a professional, you’ll know where to find one.]

This information applies to Word 2002 (Word XP). The My Places bar was not fully customizable prior to the appearance of the 2002 (XP) version. It is easy to add new icons to the My Places bar in Word 2002, to re-order the icons, and to remove any icon(s) you have added, as Jack pointed out in the Editorium Update of July 9, 2003. But a small amount of registry tweaking will give you complete control over the My Places bar icons, and let you consign the standard, default icons to distant memory.

Entries on the My Places bar are contained in the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice10.0CommonOpen FindPlaces

The Places key contains the following two subkeys: StandardPlaces and UserDefinedPlaces. These subkeys contain the following keys:

StandardPlaces. This subkey contains five keys that correspond to the five default items that appear on the My Places bar.


Desktop Desktop

Favorites Favorites

MyDocuments My Documents

Publishing My Network Places

Recent History

UserDefinedPlaces. This subkey contains keys that correspond to items you have added to the My Places bar.



Place0 firstplaceadded

Place1 secondplaceadded

Place2 thirdplaceadded

The following values can be used for keys contained in the StandardPlaces key and the UserDefinedPlaces key:


View DWORD {1=List, 2=Details, 3=Summary, 4=Preview}

ArrangeBy DWORD {1=Name, 2=Type, 3=Size, 4=Date}

SortAscending DWORD Boolean to sort ascending/descending

Index DWORD Relative position on the My Places bar

Show DWORD Zero to hide a Standard place

Okay, now, here’s the trick: If you locate a DWORD “Show” in one of the StandardPlaces keys (or create a new DWORD “Show” in one of the StandardPlaces keys) and modify its value to “0”, that folder will not appear in your Word MyPlaces bar in the Open and SaveAs dialogs. I’ll explain this step-by-step below.

There must be at least one icon in the MyPlaces bar. If nothing else is there, Desktop will remain. But if there are other icons showing, you can get rid of the (essentially useless for most users) Desktop icon, the MyDocs icon, or any (or all) of the other default icons.

The standard, low-tech way to access the registry is:

1. Click the Windows Start button.

2. Click “Run…”

3. Type “regedit” (don’t include the quotation marks).

4. Press Enter or click OK.

The Registry Editor opens.

To hide the Desktop item on the My Places bar, open this registry key (click the plus to the left of a key’s name to expand it, then scroll down to the next subkey listed here and click the plus to its left …):

HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice10.0CommonOpen FindPlacesStandardPlaces

Now, before you do anything else, save a copy of the registry key you are about to change. If anything goes wrong when you close the Registry Editor, all you have to do is locate your saved copy of the key (it has a name you assigned to it, and the extension .reg), double-click it, say Yes when you are asked whether you want to add this to the registry, and all will be the way it was.

Here’s how you save a copy of a key: First, click the name of the key. In the example below, that would be the Desktop key. Click File in the Menu Bar at the top of the window, and click Export. Type a name of your choice in the blank, and navigate to a folder you choose to use as a storage folder for the saved-key file you are about to make. Now just click Save, and the key’s entire image is saved as it is before you change anything. If you ever had to restore the key to its prior state, all you would have to do is double-click the name of the file you saved, answer Yes, and the changed key would be restored.

Now that the Desktop key is saved, let’s change it. [Editor’s note: Be careful not to change anything else or go merrily messing around while you’re in there. If you do, you could foul up your computer fairly seriously. Also, don’t continue unless you’ve followed Dan’s instructions for saving a copy of the registry key.]

1. Right-click Desktop.

2. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.

3. In the New Value#1 box, type Show, and then press ENTER.

4. Right-click Show, and then click Modify.

5. In the Edit DWORD Value dialog box, type 0 in the Value data box, and then click OK.

6. Close the Registry Editor.

That’s it.


If the StandardPlaces key you want to hide already has a Show item in the right-hand panel of the Registry Editor window, simply right-click the word Show, click Modify in the pop-up that appears, and type the number (not the letter) 0 in the value box, where the number 1 will already be selected, waiting to be changed. Once you have made a change, click OK and close the Registry Editor.

If the StandardPlaces key you want to hide does not already have a Show item, create one as above. You simply right-click the key you want to create a Show DWORD value in, and go from there. It’s a snap.

I added a Show DWORD with a value of 0 (zero, not “O,” remember) to each of the StandardPlaces keys when I had added several of my own folders to the My Places bar. I now have five (large) folder-icons showing in Word’s My Places bar with no arrowhead at the bottom or top to indicate that there are more icons offscreen. I have icons for my folders called Admin, Editing, Current, Archives, and Computing. They’re the ones I use most often in Word, and it’s really handy and efficient to have them readily available in the My Places bar, so that I don’t have to click through other folders to reach them.

After all, *handy* and *efficient* are descriptors it would be wonderful to be able to use for everything Word. This information can move you a step closer to that goal.

Copyright (c) 2003 by Dan A. Wilson



After reading today’s article, you may want to know more about the registry and how to use it. If so, a great place to learn the basics is the WinGuides Web site, here:

Then you’ll find more Word-specific stuff at the Word MVP site, here:

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