Use local templates with Office 2013

A new feature of the Office 2013 applications is online templates. The Start screen window comes up when you open Word, Excel, and the other Office applications that make heavy use of templates.

While these templates may be useful to some SOHO users, they are somewhat pointless for most. We either want a blank document or our own templates.

Is there a way to change this behavior so that the default template selection is not "online" or "featured" templates?

Sure. You can either configure the Office application to start with a blank document or display your own templates.

Start with a Blank Document

If you want to start with a blank document, you can go to File, Options, General and deselect the option to Show the Start screen when this application starts

Disable the Start screen in Office 2013 applications

Start screen with User Templates

If you want to start the Office application with your local templates shown as the default templates on the Start screen, you need to edit the registry.

Start Excel and Word in the Personal Templates

Note that even with this registry value set, you'll get the "foofoo" Start screen. For this reason, I prefer to pin my frequently used templates to the shortcut and skip the Start screen.

You first must Verify that a personal templates folder location is set in File, Options, Save before setting the registry value.

With this registry value set, the Start screen will default to the Personal Templates

The default location is C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates (or %appdata%\microsoft\templates), but you can use any folder you'd like for your templates.

Once the folder location is set, add the officestartdefaulttab name with a data value of 1 to the registry.

Word:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\office\15.0\word\options
DWORD: officestartdefaulttab
Value: 1

Excel:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\office\15.0\excel\options
DWORD: officestartdefaulttab
Value: 1

Administrators can use Group policy to set these values as well as the user's templates folder.

Do it for me

If you don't want to edit the registry yourself, you can use the officestartdefaulttab ready-to-use reg file to set the value for Word and Excel.

Use Pinned Templates

If you don't like the Start screen, you can pin your most frequently used templates to the application shortcut. (Or, even if you like the Start screen but have a lot of templates - it's much faster than browsing the screen.)

To pin, go to your template folder and drag it to the shortcut. When you see "Pin to [application]", drop it.

Pin a template to an office 2013 application

Once the templates are pinned, right-click on the shortcut to access your list of templates.

Templates pinned to Word 2013 shortcut

  19 comments for “Use local templates with Office 2013

  1. Heiner
    November 2, 2012 at 2:44 am

    This was fantastic! Thanks a lot for the excellent tip.

  2. November 21, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Very useful, especially the pinned templates will come in handy.

  3. November 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    What kind of moron at Microsoft decided that this wasn’t worth a setting in itself ?? Asking users to edit the registry is a real nonsense. Thank you very much for this information.

    • Dan
      February 7, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      I work at Microsoft and agree it’s an idiotic decision!

      • Stuart Neilson
        December 6, 2013 at 11:54 am

        The whole of setting up Word 2013 so it does what I want is a fight. I want my normal template to be a blank piece of paper that doesn’t try and second guess me all the time. If I want a double space I’ll tap the enter button twice. If I want my lists to inset I’ll set them to do that. I don’t want these bloody silly templates I will never use them. All they do is annoy me!

  4. Julian
    December 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Thanks. Yes, this is very handy, for PowerPoint users, too.

  5. JohnG
    October 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Excellent information — only Microsoft would require you to edit the registry to avoid having their advertisements for “Featured” templates forced down your throat.

  6. AndyP
    January 22, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Very helpful article – thanks.

    However, I have tried using the ‘Pinned Template’ approach and have a problem.

    1. Pin templates by dragging as described.
    2. Right-click the Word icon on the task bar.
    3. Click on required pinned template.

    A document of the correct type opens in Word, but when I again right-click on the Word icon on the task bar the template has become un-pinned and moved to the ‘Recent’ list.

    This happens as soon as a document of the required type is opened in Word. The situation is the same if the new document is closed without saving or if it is saved and then closed.

    What am I doing wrong?

    • January 24, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      I don’t think its you – it’s word, but I don’t know why its not working correctly. I can’t repro the problem.

      • September 26, 2014 at 5:10 am

        This sounds like a corrupted Windows Jump List

  7. Ron Smith
    May 23, 2014 at 6:01 am

    Thanks for the tip

  8. Rob Peterson
    June 4, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Good info. Thanks. I had to set our personal templates path – not very intuitive, yikes.

    Is there a way for the templates to display in “list” or “detail”? I prefer to see size and modified date over a large tile.

    • June 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      As far as I know, no, you can’t display them in a list format. Sorry.

  9. July 12, 2014 at 1:35 am

    Hi Diane

    Thanks for this excellent post. I covered a similar theme here – http://www.ion.icaew.com/itcounts/post/Excel-Templates

    But since I wrote the piece I have discovered another quirk –
    On first launch, Excel 2013 takes the blank template ["book.xltx"] from ["C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel\XLSTART"]
    But once Excel is loaded, subsequent new workbooks ignore this template, which is massively frustrating!
    Any idea where the templates for these new “post-first-launch” workbooks are taken from?
    Darned if I can find the info anywhere on the web. :-(

    Great site BTW

    • July 28, 2014 at 5:22 am

      I think you need to use the keyboard shortcuts to create a workbook using it. It should work if you turn off the welcome screen (File, Options, General > Show the Start screen when this application starts)

  10. Gayan Kalinga
    August 13, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    The ‘Personal’ template tab will be automatically appeared right next to the ‘Featured’ template tab once you have set the the default personal template location.

    File > Options > Save > Default personal template location (type an address of a folder where you are going to save templates)

    Thats it!

  11. mike s
    September 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Dianne, do you offer consulting service?

  12. Jay
    October 2, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    I don’t know if this changed in an update, but this did not work for me. The “word\options” key did not exist in the registry, and creating it didn’t help. However, I did find a Fix It procedure that fixed ALL office applications at once, I recommend doing the official fix here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-in/word-help/where-are-my-custom-templates-in-office-2013-HA103478764.aspx

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