Forcing Documents in SharePoint Search Results to Open in Client Application

Forcing Documents in SharePoint Search Results to Open in Client Application

One of the most common tasks that a user performs in SharePoint is opening a document. Whether it's a PDF, a Word document, or an Excel spreadsheet this very straight forward task can get complicated very quickly. Sometimes users are continually asked to enter their credentials when opening files. Other times, the administrator of the site wants to require documents to be checked out. Though these issues are widespread, what I would like to address today is forcing SharePoint to open documents in client applications by default, instead of opening them in the browser. And specifically making sure that this type of behavior works on the search results page of SharePoint 2013.

Normally if you would like to ensure that a Word document opens up in Microsoft Word on the users computer instead of in Office Web Apps you can go to the Advanced Settings of a document Library and then set the default open behavior for browser-enabled documents to "Open in the client application". Now you can be sure that Word documents will open up how you want them to. However if your user searches for a document in that document library and then goes to open that document from the search page she may be unpleasantly surprised to find that the document is opening in the browser instead of the client application like you wanted it to.

In order to fix this problem you used to have to modify the display template of SharePoint Search Results. However after some recent changes to SharePoint, now all of you have to do is change a very simple, albeit very hidden, setting:

1) Log in to SharePoint as the user who is having this problem. This setting is user specific so the user experiencing the problem has to be the one to change the setting.

2) Go to the Search Results page by performing any search. It does not matter what gets returned.

3) At the bottom of the Search Results page there should be a "Preferences" link. Click that link to open up the Search Results Preferences page.

4) On this preferences page you will see an "Opening Documents in the Browser" setting which very similar to the setting that I mentioned earlier in the Advanced Settings of document libraries. However this setting will override any document library setting when a document is opened from the Search Results page (which is what is causing our problem).

5) Simply change this setting to "Open in the client application" and now documents should open in client applications when opened from the Search Result page.

NOTE: This applies to SharePoint 2013 on-premise AND SharePoint Online.

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# Pawan
Thanks. It helped a lot.
Hi Sam,

this is similar to an issue I am facing - I wonder if it is possbile to force documents to open in the client app from an .aspx page that has hard coded links to the docs in the library?

Any input welcome!
Thank you and have a nice day.
# April
This is great! How do you do this for links to documents? I'd like them to open in the application instead of the browser application.
# Jacob
Is there a way to change the preference default to open in client application?

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