Customize Office 2007 Apps With Hassle-Free PC

As a recent convert to Microsoft Office 2007, I'm still learning my way around the interface. Obviously the biggest change involves the Ribbon, which I found daunting at first but quickly came to appreciate. It's just a smarter way of organizing various features. This week I've got tips for customizing Office 2007 apps, like adding features to the Quick Access Toolbar, getting rid of the annoying Mini Toolbar, and setting up Outlook's spell checker.

Add Features to Office 2007's Quick Access Toolbar

There are certain icons I miss from the old Office 2003 toolbar, like Print and Open. These are features I use constantly, but Office 2007 forces me to click the big Office button to access them. That's one whole extra click!

Fortunately, it's easy to add just about any Office feature to the Quick Access Toolbar, which appears at the top of the screen right next to the Office button. By default, the toolbar sports Save, Undo, and Redo icons, but you can customize it as you see fit. (I'm thinking specifically of Word 2007, but the process is the same in Excel and PowerPoint.)

For starters, click the little down-arrow on the right edge of the toolbar. You'll see a list of popular commands like Open, Quick Print, and Spelling & Grammar. Click any of them to add the corresponding icon to Quick Access. (Likewise, click any already-checked item to remove it from the toolbar.)

What if you want to add a feature that's not on the list? Simple: You can right-click almost any icon on the Ribbon (or in the Office menu) and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar. To remove one of these custom jobs, right-click its icon and choose Remove from Quick Access Toolbar.

Kick Word 2007's Mini Toolbar to the Curb

As much as I like Office 2007 for the most part, a few features seem hell-bent on annoying me.

One of them is Word 2007's little on-the-spot editing toolbar, which is officially known as the Mini Toolbar. Perhaps you've encountered it: It appears when you highlight some text and then move your mouse up.

Admittedly, it's a handy addition, but as someone who's literally spent 20 years mousing his way to the top of the screen for font selection, highlighting tools, and the like, the Mini Toolbar strikes me as a Maxi Annoyance.

Fortunately, it's easy to turn off:

  1. Click the Office button and then choose Word Options.
  2. Clear the check box from the very first item: Show Mini Toolbar on selection.
  3. Click OK and you're done.

Want the toolbar back? Ah, you don't really need me to explain that, do you?

Make Outlook Automatically Spell-Check Your E-mail

I'm kind of a spelling snob. I take pains to make sure I spell everything correctly, so it bugs me a little bit when I receive mail that contains spelling mistakes.

Well, okay, I cheat a little: I use Outlook 2007's spell-checker to give my outbound mail the once-over before sending. You can do likewise, without having to remember to click the Spelling button every time, by tweaking Outlook's checker. Here's how:

  1. Click Tools, Options.
  2. Click the Spelling tab.
  3. Tick the box marked Always check spelling before sending.
  4. Click OK.

That's it! Now, when you click Send, Outlook's spell-checker will immediately appear, giving you a chance to fix those "Hey, Rick, you are so stoopid" kinds of mistakes.

Of course, by default, Outlook uses squiggly red lines to indicate misspellings as you type, but I know many folks who prefer to just bang away at the keys and then fix the mistakes at the end.

Rick Broida writes PC World's Hassle-Free PC blog. Sign up to have Rick's newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon