How to switch between Ribbon views in Office 2013

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The more I use Office 2013, the more I like some of the little interface tweaks Microsoft made to the suite.

For example, in Outlook 2013, you can now view all your unread email with just one click. (That's one of five surprisingly great things about the new Outlook.)

I've also discovered a nice change to the Ribbon toolbar, which was one of the most controversial changes in Office 2007 and largely untouched in Office 2010.

In Office 2013, Microsoft now gives you the option of three different Ribbon views, which I'll dub full, reduced, and hidden. Here's how to switch between them:

1. Start any Office 2013 app: Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.

2. In the very top-right corner of the window, just to the left of the Minimize button, you'll see a Ribbon display-option button (which looks like a little arrow inside a box). Click it.

3. Now you'll see three options: Auto-hide Ribbon, Show Tabs, and Show Tabs and Commands. This last is the default view; it shows everything. Choose one of the other two and you'll immediately see the result.

Auto-hide Ribbon is interesting because it leaves you with a totally toolbar-free work area. I find this especially great in Word, as I get maximum workspace for my documents and zero clutter from the Ribbon. (Spreadsheets users would also find this invaluable, no doubt.) But I can click anywhere along the top of the screen to reveal the Ribbon as needed.

Show Tabs is a nice in-between option: it leaves only the Ribbon's tabs, hiding everything else beneath them. Click any tab to reveal its contents; click again to hide them.

Needless to say, you can click that display-option button any time to toggle back to another mode. Give it a try, then let me know which view you like best.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PCWorld ForumsSign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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