In this article we’ll go over some of the, still, little understood ribbon features before looking how to get rid of the ribbon entirely.
Yesterday I met a guy who absolutely hates the Office ribbon and wanted tips on how to get rid of it.
I didn’t see his Office setup but from the description he gave it sounded like there were some very strange things going on. Certainly he didn’t know about some of the useful ribbon features that might reduce his dislike of the interface. There was even talk of going back to Office 2003 with the menu & toolbar, which we think is a really bad idea for reasons we’ll mention below.
Quick Access Toolbar
That little toolbar at the top is the place Microsoft gives users to put their choice of icons.
You’re not limited to the buttons on the default QAT nor the small selection on the pull down list.
Go to the ‘More Commands …’ option to see the full range of buttons available.
While Microsoft shows you ‘Popular Commands’ (popular with whom?), you may be looking to add something not on the ribbon. Choose the ‘Commands not in the ribbon’ to reveal the hidden items.
In the above example, we’ve added ‘Keep with Next’ to the QAT so it can be toggled easily without going into the Paragraph dialog box to change each time.
The ribbon can tuck itself out of the way but do it in a smart way. It’ll reappear when needed then minimize again automatically.
Microsoft knows that people haven’t been making good use of this feature so in Office 2013 they added an menu for it on top right next to the standard Windows buttons.
Give the minimize ribbon aka ‘Show Tabs’ option a try, especially on laptops and other small screen devices. The faster way in Office 2007, 2010 and 2013 is to double-click on any tab.
OK, this isn’t a ribbon feature but it’s something people forget about – keyboard shortcuts.
It’s too easy to go to the ribbon for common tasks when it’s faster to keep your fingers on the keyboard. Want to copy and paste – Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V. Make text Bold or Italic Ctrl + B and Ctrl + I will do the job.
The ribbon tooltips will remind you of any shortcuts available.
And you can add your own shortcuts or use the ribbon’s keyboard shortcuts to every command. Press the Alt key and follow the letter/number tips from there.
Replacing the ribbon
The last version of Office with a menu/toolbar interface was Office 2003. You could reinstall Office 2003 but that’s not a good idea for various reasons. The main reason is that Office 2007 and later properly support the new document formats (.docx, xlsx and pptx etc.) that are now commonly used. These formats are smaller and safer than the old document types.
Whatever Office software you use, you’ll need compatibility with .docx etc. Microsoft has provided a Compatibility Pack for Office 2003 but it’s clumsy and annoying. Better to stick with Office 2007 or later.
You can get a menu/toolbar add-in to replace the ribbon in Office 2007, Office 2010 or Office 2013 (whichever you have).
There’s a few ‘classic’ menu addins around: