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Hands on: Show Office 2007 who's the boss

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

If you're trying to wean yourself from Office 2003's tool bars, you might want to install ToolbarToggle's "Lite" version, which is included with the $20 full version. Like Classic Menu, Lite installs itself as a tab on the Ribbon and offers commonly used tool bar commands in a format that looks a lot like its Office 2003 counterparts. Also like Classic Menu, the Lite version can't be modified. In fact, you might want to start with the full version and customize it to look like your old Office 2003 environment, then introduce the Ribbon as well, and finally close ToolbarToggle's full version and just use the Lite menu tab on the Ribbon. Once you've made the transition, say goodbye to Lite.

If you want to help yourself or your users acclimate to Office 2007 by offering them a crutch -- the familiar menus of Word and Excel 2003 -- or if you have power users who are kicking and screaming about Office 2007's lack of customization options, ToolbarToggle can help them.

 
ToolbarToggle (Version 2.0.0.4 tested)

Venture Architects Labs

Price: $19.95 (includes Lite version; quantity discounts available); 10-day free trial available

Supports: Excel and Word; PowerPoint support promised. The Lite version supports all languages supported by Microsoft Windows. The full version's menus are in English only.

Requires: Any Windows platforms that Office 2007 supports

 



Show Office 2007 who's the boss



Tweak the 2007 Ribbon: RibbonCustomizer Pro (Version 1.1 beta)

It's true that Office 2007 lets you add new commands to the Quick Access Toolbar at the top of the application's window, but that's not the same as combining the advantages of a graphical Ribbon interface with the ease of having your favorite commands right where you want them (and removing those you never use).

Patrick Schmid's RibbonCustomizer works within the Ribbon's own constraints to let you change the display of icons and commands on existing tabs or any new ones you create. You can delete a group that you don't use from a Ribbon tab (you can restore it later), insert a group from a different tab onto any other tab, add your own custom group or command, and rearrange most groups and commands. It's a "have it your way" solution for power users.

The easy-to-use interface is simple enough to understand, but we strongly recommend going through the short tutorials on the company's Web site. The first, a video presentation, gives you the basics; the second, a set of instructions, explains the limitations.

I used RibbonCustomizer to change several Ribbon characteristics. I started simply, putting the spell checking function on the Home tab. It's something simple but heretofore extremely annoying that my only solutions were to a) switch tabs, b) remember the keyboard shortcut key, or c) add an icon to the Quick Access Toolbar.

In less than six minutes (including the time spent watching the training video), I had copied the Proofing Tools group from the Review tab to the Home tab. In another five minutes (including reading the online tutorial), I knew how to create a new group that sported only the Spell Check tool from the Proofing Tools group.

While I mostly work with text files, I occasionally work on brochures, and when I do I have a particular combination of tools that I want at my fingertips. Those tools are spread out among several tabs in Word 2007.

 RibbonCustomizer 1
 RibbonCustomizer 2

Step 1 (left): Name the tab and choose its groups. Step 2 (right): Create a custom group within the tab by choosing commands. (Click images to see larger view.)
Once I saw how easy it was to add the spell check group, I took the next step and created a brand new tab, populating it with two predefined groups as well as two custom groups filled with my own selections of individual commands from the full command set RibbonCustomizer displays.

The complete list of commands is alphabetical, but you can also use the search box to narrow it. You can make a command "large" (that is, display it as a large icon with text that is the full height of the Ribbon) or "normal" (text only or text with a small icon). In addition to individual commands, you can add separator bars to give a group a slightly more organized look.

My new, custom-built Brochures tab is shown below.

A tab customized with RibbonCustomizer

The final result: a fully customized Brochures tab. (Click image to see larger view.)



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