So, I have a Microsoft Word template (.dotx file). I want to make some changes to it, so new documents based on it will look different.

I open the template, make my changes, and hit save. Then Word prompts me for a location, because it thinks that I want to create a new Word document based on this template. I don't, so I go to Office > Save As and try to save it to the original template file...but it says I can't because I already have that file open.

I thought about saving it to a new file, then just switching file names around to get it back in the location of the original template, but I worry that documents based on this template will lose their association with the template the were based on.

There has to be a better way, and I suspect I'm missing something extremely obvious here.

3 Answers 3

  1. Open the Microsoft Word Template file (*.dotx)

  2. Edit it.

  3. Save it under another name.

  4. Close Microsoft Word.

  5. Delete the original and rename the new one to replace the original.

Alternatives: How to modify an existing template in Word 2007?

  • 6
    I read that same article, and it didn't work, but I think I found the problem. I was opening the template by just double clicking on it. That must trigger Word into a mode where it thinks you're creating a new document. But if you open a template from Office > Open, it acts differently.
    – Deane
    Jan 29, 2011 at 19:11
  • I would suggest you to save it as a different template and then rename them. Jan 29, 2011 at 19:12

To clarify some earlier responses:

It is not necessary to save under other name, delete original, then rename new version, etc. I was doing this myself for a very long time until I found the link below.


As the link and also one of the earlier responses (Deane) said, if you right click on the template icon, click Open, make your changes, and then click Save, you will permanently modify the template in one simple step.

If you just double click the template icon to open it, however, you are not editing the template; instead, you are creating a new document based on the template. This does seem to be "one of those things" in Word. We normally assume that double-clicking to open and right-clicking and then clicking on Open cause the same outcome. Not in this case, however.

  • Didn't work for me on mac. However if I open the file through Word itself (Open->find the file) rather than opening via the icon, it works. Dec 1, 2018 at 10:27

When you see a *.doc* document in windows explorer the default context menu option (rght-click) is Open - so double-clicking on the document will open it

When you see a *.dot* document in windows explorer the default context menu option (rght-click) is New - so double-clicking on the document will open a new document based on this template. To edit the template you will need to right click on the document and selected Open from the context menu.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.