Outlook’s new Simplified ribbon

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After a lot of talk and promises, Office Insiders are getting a look at the proposed Outlook for Windows single-line or Simplified Ribbon for Office 365 customers.

As usual, there’s good news and bad news in the interface change.  Though it’s early days and there’s still time for changes.

Don’t Panic

There’s no reason to worry about the single line ribbon.  Despite some advance publicity, Simplified Ribbon is NOT a replacement for the full ribbon.

Here’s the current Simplified single line ribbon in Outlook beta software on the Home tab:

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And the Message tab for editing emails.

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The concept is to make the main features available but take up less vertical space.  At long last, it’s easier to change the ribbon buttons.

There are Simplified / single-line ribbon versions of all existing ribbons.

Original Ribbon lives!

Despite what you might have read, the original or Classic ribbon remains.  It’s been redesigned but all the features are there.

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Single line ribbon is an additional element not a replacement.

The current ribbon has two states: Full and Minimized (tabs only).

The new interface adds the single-line ribbon as a middle ground between the two existing options.

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All the existing ribbon features remain like double-clicking tabs to minimize and the arrow at right which now switches between Classic and Simplified Ribbons.

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More on the Overflow list

Click the three dots on the right to see more buttons:

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Changing the one-line ribbon

The single line ribbon is more configurable than the original ribbon.

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The items on the overflow ribbon can be moved to the visible ribbon by right-click and choose Pin to Ribbon.

Buttons on the single line ribbon can be moved off to the overflow list with the ‘Remove from Ribbon’ option.

Moving or adding other buttons around takes a visit to Customize Ribbon (right-click on the single line ribbon).

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Alt based ribbon shortcuts are the same on the Simplified Ribbon.

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The bad news

The current builds have some worrying changes.  There’s greater white space between emails and items in a folder list.  An email takes up about 10 pixels more in the new interface than the old which means less emails or folders visible on the screen.

The Simplified Ribbon and other changes have reduced the vertical space used but those savings are wasted on unnecessary spacing elsewhere.  It’s hard to understand why Microsoft thinks it’s better to show less on the screen.  Probably pandering to less experienced users without considering the needs of Office users with decades of experience.

Official Video

Here’s Microsoft’s introduction video for the Outlook for Windows changes featuring the inevitable Redmond catchwords ‘Experience’ and ‘Exciting’.

Coming Soon button

Microsoft is gradually introducing the changed interface with the choice to try it or not.  Look at top right for a ‘Coming Soon’ option.

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Switch between the new and existing interfaces by selecting this option and restarting Outlook.


There’s no timeline on when the Simplified Ribbon will reach regular (non-insider) Office 365 users.  Maybe later this year or early in 2019.

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