Making Office 2000 Conform to the Way You Work

When you first start using a program, it's tempting to go with the flow and conform to the way the program works. You simply learn to live with the Office Assistant and that goofy new "Smart Menu" feature that Bill Gates seems to think is the next best thing to Monopoly. However, your program should serve your needs and conform to the way you work. This article shows you how to go under the hood with Office 2000 and tinker with its default settings:


Turning Off "Smart" Menus and Toolbars    to top

Office 2000 sports a "smarter," intelligent interface that automatically conforms to the way you work. At least that's what Microsoft wants everyone to think. Initially, menus and toolbars display only the most commonly used options. A double-headed arrow at the bottom of the menu or the right side of the toolbar lets you view the rest of the available commands. As you select menu commands and click buttons, Office automatically bumps up the command or button to a higher level on the menu or toolbar.

In short, Office hides most options and constantly reshuffles the deck. And this is supposed to be an improvement? I have a hard enough time finding the option I need in the first place—why would I want it hidden and in constant motion?

If you feel the same way as I do about these "Smart" menus, disable them. Double-click the Tools menu so you can see all of its options, and then click Customize. Click the Options tab and turn off the following two options: Standard and Formatting Toolbars Share One Row and Menus Show Recently Used Commands First. Ahhh, the good ol' days!

    Turbotip
    The Office Assistant can get annoying. To turn it off, right-click the Assistant and click Options. Click Use the Office Assistant to remove the check mark from the box, and then click OK. (To temporarily hide the Assistant, instead of turning it off, right-click the Assistant and click Hide.)


Stitching Your Own, Custom Toolbar    to top

You don't need Office rearranging your toolbars; you can do it yourself using the old drag-and-drop technique. But first you must display the Customize dialog box: Open the Tools menu and click Customize. With the Customize dialog box onscreen, you now have total control of your toolbars:

  • Drag a button from one location to another on the same toolbar. (Hold down the Ctrl key while dragging to copy a button or menu option rather than move it.)
  • Drag a button from one toolbar to another.
  • Drag a menu option and drop it on a toolbar.
  • To remove a button, drag it off its toolbar and away from any other toolbars and release the mouse button. (When the mouse pointer is over an area of the screen where it's safe to drop the button, an X appears next to the pointer.)
  • Click the Toolbars tab in the Customize dialog box and place a check mark next to each toolbar you want displayed.
  • Click the Commands tab in the Customize dialog box. Click a command group in the Categories list and then drag and drop a command from the Commands list onto a toolbar.

When you're finished renovating your toolbars, click the OK button to close the Customize dialog box.

    Turbotip
    To make your own toolbar, display the Customize dialog box, click the Toolbars tab, and click the New button. Type a name for the toolbar and click OK. As you add buttons to the toolbar, it expands to accommodate them.


Rearranging Your Menu Selections    to top

The Customize dialog box enables you to customize not only the toolbars, but also the menus. Display the Customize dialog box (Tools, Customize), and try the following tricks:

  • Drag a command up or down on a menu to move it. A horizontal bar appears, showing where the option will be placed. Release the mouse button.
  • Drag and drop a command from one menu to another. (Hold down the Ctrl key while dragging to copy the command rather than move it.)
  • Drag an option from its menu and drop it on a toolbar to create a button for the option. (Hold down the Ctrl key while dragging to copy the command rather than move it.)
  • To remove an option from its menu, drag it off the menu to an open area of the screen (an X appears next to the mouse pointer) and release the mouse button.
  • Click the Commands tab in the Customize dialog box. Click a command group in the Categories list and then drag an option from the Commands list over the desired menu and to the desired location on the menu. Release the mouse button.

    Turbotip
    Make your own menu. Click the Commands tab and then click the New Menu option at the bottom of the Categories list. Drag New Menu from the Commands list over the menu bar and release the mouse button. Right-click the menu and edit the entry in the Name text box to rename the menu. You can now drag options onto this new menu.


Telling Office Where to Look for Documents    to top

Office is set up to save all of your documents in the My Documents folder and to display that folder's contents whenever you enter the File, Open command. To use a different folder as the default folder, open the Tools menu and choose Options. Click the File Locations tab, click Documents, click the Modify button, and select the desired folder.

    Turbotip
    The File menu keeps a list of the four documents you most recently worked on. To keep track of additional documents, choose Tools, Options, click the General tab, and increase the number in the Recently used file list box.


Making Word Print Pages in the Right Order    to top

Some printers automatically spit out pages in the right order: page 1 face up on the stack, and the last page at the back. If your printer insists on flipping the order, you must manually reshuffle the pages every time you print a document. Fortunately, Office can reverse the order in which pages are printed. Here's what you do:

  1. Open the Tools menu and click Options.
  2. Click the Print tab.
  3. Click Reverse print order, to place a check in its box.
  4. Click OK.

    Turbotip
    To enter printer settings that affect all your programs, enter the settings in Windows. Click the Start button, point to Settings, and click Printers. Right-click your printer's icon, click Properties, and use the resulting dialog box to enter the desired settings.

By entering a few simple, customization options as explained here, you can completely revamp your Office applications and make them conform to the way you work. However, this article merely scratched the surface. Take a few minutes now to explore the settings in the Options dialog box (Tools, Options). If you're not sure what a particular setting controls, right-click its name and click What's This?


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