Skip the navigation

Hands on: Show Office 2007 who's the boss

By Richard Ericson
April 29, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Classic Menu is best used to help you navigate old menu structures to find favorite commands. But don't expect to use all the familiar keyboard shortcuts from Office 2003. For example, in Office 2003 applications, you can use Alt+F to open the File drop-down menu. In Office 2007, Alt+F is the same as clicking on the Office button, since that's where the file commands are now stored. With Classic Menu installed, Alt+F still triggers the Office button, not the File menu from Classic Menu.

You can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate menus, but they may be different from those you're used to in Office 2003, and the "shortcuts" often take more keystrokes. In Word 2003, for example, you can press Alt+A (to select the Table menu), I (to select Insert from the drop-down menu), and finally T to insert a table.

In Classic Menu in Word 2007, the keystroke sequence is a bit more complex: Alt+Q (to open the Menus tab on the Ribbon), A, 1 (the letter A, then the number 1 to select the Table command at the top-level menu), the down arrow key (for the next Table command), the right arrow key (to open the next-level menu), and finally I (for the Insert command) -- not much of a shortcut.

We tested the "Office 2007" suite ($30), which included menus for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Individual versions that support just one of these applications are available for $16 each.

For the price, ToolbarToggle offers more bang for the buck than Classic Menu, since it also lets you customize the menus. However, Classic Menu has two advantages over ToolbarToggle: It's available for PowerPoint today, and it includes Office 2007 commands on its menus, a modification you can't make to ToolbarToggle menus. But if you're just interested in add-on menus that resemble Office 2003, the free version of RibbonCustomizer may be all you really need.

Classic Menu for Office 2007
(Version tested)


Price: $29.95; individual versions for Word, Excel or PowerPoint are $15.99 each; 15-day free trial available

Supports: Excel, PowerPoint and Word in all languages supported by Microsoft Office 2007

Requires: Microsoft Windows XP/2003/Vista


Show Office 2007 who's the boss

Customize a retro look: ToolbarToggle

ToolbarToggle from Venture Architects Labs is for those power users who want the improvements of Office 2007 with the familiar tool bar functionality and customization of Office 2003. Hide the standard Ribbon, and with ToolbarToggle sitting at the top of your screen, you might almost think you're working with Office 2003 again. Or use both the Ribbon and ToolbarToggle and have the best of both worlds.

The program works as an add-in for Word and Excel 2007, with a PowerPoint add-in promised within 45 days. Unlike Classic Menu, you can customize ToolbarToggle in exactly the same way you did Office 2003's tool bars. You can add buttons, use drag and drop to rearrange buttons or tool bars, tear off a tool bar and let it float, and even record macros and assign them to a tool bar menu or button.


ToolbarToggle sits below the Ribbon in Excel 2007. (Click image to see larger view.)

Office 2003's predefined tool bars aren't supported, with two exceptions: Standard and Formatting. If you want a Reviewing tool bar, for example, you'll have to create it yourself. Furthermore, ToolbarToggle is strictly focused on Office 2003; new commands introduced in Office 2007 (for example, Insert QuickPart, Insert Signature Line, File Prepare, and File Publish in Word 2007) cannot be added to the menu.

As with Classic Menu, keyboard shortcuts in ToolbarToggle don't work exactly the same as they did in Office 2003. For example, you can't press Alt+A to display the Table menu drop-down options from the ToolbarToggle's Table menu in Word. The shortcut still works -- Alt+A, I, T will insert a table because those keystokes are being interpreted by the Ribbon, not ToolbarToggle, but there is no accelerator key to get you inside the ToolbarToggle's menu system so you can use the keyboard keys (up/down/left/right) to navigate it.

Once you click inside the ToolbarToggle menu, standard menu navigation (with the arrow keys) works perfectly; menus pop out just as they do in earlier versions. The issue is simply not being able to navigate to the ToolbarToggle menu with a keyboard shortcut.

Our Commenting Policies