Touch features in Office 2013

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Office 2013 has some clever tricks when you touch the screen.

Tony G writes:

” … there are some subtle features in Office 2013. I have a Lenovo Yoga 2 and I have observed that the right click menus and some other features are different when called up by the touch screen and using the cursor from the touch pad.

For example, dragging an email to a folder by touch screen instead of automatically moving it, when you release gives a short menu of move | copy and the main right menu is larger and different.

Really very subtle and quite clever and I am finding that Windows 8.1 + Office 2013 on the Yoga 2 gives both a good laptop and good tablet experience – something I was not sure would actually be possible.

Tony is right, Office will behave slightly differently if you use a touch screen instead of mouse pointer on the same item. Laptops are coming out with a touchscreen as well as mouse pad, letting you choose the one that suits you.

You can use ‘finger on the screen’ gestures with Office 2013 as long as you have Windows 8 and a compatible touch screen. No special configuration or mode switch is required, in fact you can switch and mix mouse/touch anytime you like. The Office 2013 Quick Access Toolbar has a touch/mouse mode button but all that does is spread out the ribbon items to make them easier to finger tap; it’s not necessary to activate touch features.

If you drag an Outlook item to a folder with the same type of item, the behavior is different depending on whether you use the mouse or touch the screen. With a mouse the pointer indicates if the item will be moved or copied (hold down the Ctrl key and there’s a plus + sign on the pointer for a copied item). Drag the same item using your finger on the screen and you should get this menu item when you drop on the destination folder: image from Touch features in Office 2013 at

Much the same should happen when you drag an Outlook item to another type of folder. For example an email to a Contacts folder (left) or Calendar (right) image from Touch features in Office 2013 at

We say ‘should’ because our tests gave inconsistent results. Sometimes we got the menus above when finger dragging on the touch screen, but other times no menu appeared and the action occurred immediately. We would not find any difference in the actions that would cause this. Maybe a reader can figure it out?

Right-click menus via tap and hold

Right clicking on an Outlook item gives you a good selection of options. Tap and holding your finger on the same item shows the same menu, but spread out more for easier finger selection. image from Touch features in Office 2013 at

Other Office apps too …

Much the same happens in other Office 2013 programs. Here’s the tap and hold menu in Word 2013: image from Touch features in Office 2013 at

At Office Watch we have a Lenovo Twist with a touch screen. With all the best will we can muster, we can’t get interested in the touch options in Office 2013. You might get some use of the touch options when reading/viewing a document but for editing Touch mode is a clumsy kludge that is ill suited to the traditional Office applications. It been added as a stop-gap measure until a proper ‘touch’ or Modern interface version of Office comes along.

But Tony has a different view, which is why we published his comments. Why not give touch options a try and see if they work for you?

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