Improve your Word, Excel, Outlook or PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) beyond the small changes allowed by Microsoft directly. This works in all modern Office for Windows including Microsoft 365, Office 2016/2019/2021/LTSC.
You’ll be able to shorten the overly long text labels or change icons (because too many are the same) with a short list of images to get you started.
Easily turn QAT items on/off and do all of this for the entire program or just single documents or templates.
It’s all possible because the QAT configuration is saved in plain text files. All you need to know where to find them and what to change.
Global vs per document
Quick Access Toolbar details are saved in plain text files for the entire program. Other QAT changes can be saved in a document or template to appear when those files are opened.
To change document/template QAT manually means opening up the .docx .xlsx .pptx file to explore the contents. Quick Access Toolbar changes are saved in the document/template in the
userCustomization/customUI.xml file within the document.
We’ll stick to the application QAT for this article.
Where are the Quick Access Toolbar details stored?
For the overall QAT changes go to
C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\ . Appdata is a hidden folder.
Look for the .officeUI files in Office 2016. There are separate files for Word, Excel, PowerPoint plus a series of
olk.... for Outlook.
We’re going to focus on Word.officeui in this article. The same principles apply to the other .officeui files.
IGNORE the .customUI files. They are not plain text and should not be touched.
Word.officeUI is a plain text file so you can, in theory, open it in Notepad. However that’s quite hard to read.
Better to use an editor which has some modern formatting options. We’ve used Notepad++ for many years. Select XML formatting for colorization.
There’s a lot in the .officeUI file, we’re just interested in the Quick Access Toolbar part between the
Add items first
Get Office to do the heavy lifting for you. Before opening the .officeUI file go to Customize Quick Access Toolbar and add the items you want to the QAT.
This saves you the hassle of looking up the exact names of QAT items (the idQ elements in .officeUI).
For these examples we’ve added three items to the QAT. The Classic Style menu, Paragraph Keep with Next and Apply Normal Style.
Which look like this on the latest Quick Access Toolbar but changes appearance depending on your version of Office.
You can edit the officeui file while the program is running but there’s a risk of corruption and losing all your customizations. Better to close Word/Excel or PowerPoint, edit the .officeui file then restart the program.
Before making any changes, make sure you have a backup copy of the .officeUI file. If there’s a mistake in your changes, Office can revert to its original settings and delete all customizations!!!
Visible or not
Let’s start with a simple example, making a QAT item visible or not. Open the .officeUI file and you’ll probably see some items listed which do NOT appear on your QAT.
<mso:control idQ="mso:FilePrintQuick" visible="false"/>
This line adds the QuickPrint button to the QAT but it doesn’t appear because the visible property is set to false. To make it appear, simply change the text from false to true.
<mso:control idQ="mso:FilePrintQuick" visible="true"/>
This lets you leave QAT settings in the officeui file but disable them if they’re not working or not required.
Change QAT text
A common problem with QAT items is the long text label. It takes up too much horizontal space on the QAT line. ‘Para Keep With Next’ is just one example of overly long default text, see above.
Here’s the original line that adds ‘Para Keep with Next’.
<mso:control idQ="mso:ParagraphKeepWithNext" visible="true"/>
Override the long text with the label=”” attribute.
<mso:control idQ="mso:ParagraphKeepWithNext" label="KWN" visible="true"/>
Simple as that!
Restart Word and your changes will appear.
Yes, again. Take a backup of your working changes once they are in place. Office will remove all customizations if it detects any problem with the .officeUI file. Ideally Office should just ignore an .officeUI line which it doesn’t understand but instead it just dumps all your changes. Keep a separate copy of your work, just in case.
Change QAT icons
We’ve already seen that the default Heading buttons are all the same on the Quick Access Toolbar.
But there’s no direct way to change them.
So it’s back to customizing the .officeUI file. Here’s the original XML file that adds a ‘Apply Normal Style’ button.
<mso:control idQ="mso:StyleNormal" visible="true"/>
Add an imageMso=”” attribute with the name of an icon. We’ve used “ChangeToAcceptInvitation” because it’s a simple tick.
<mso:control idQ="mso:StyleNormal" imageMso="ChangeToAcceptInvitation" visible="true"/>
Note: imageMso names are case-sensitive.
Another note: the icons look different in each version of Office.
There’s no good list of all the imageMso names with images. The Microsoft list is useless because it’s just a list of names without images … go figure.
Spreadsheet1 has many, but not all, the images. Hover over an icon to see the imageMso name.
Some imageMSO you can try
Here’s a few imageMSO names to get you started.
All the letters A-Z have icons for example
All ten digits also have icons, the name is the digit prefixed with an underscore eg
ChangeToAcceptInvitation– there are other similar icons.
ChangeToDeclineInvitation – there are other similar icons.