“Where have you been all my life?”, I ask.

True, they’ve probably been around for awhile (which for computers is measured in months) but I never used them.  What I’m referring to is the custom toolbar that comes with every windows application.  Have you been using them?  If not, it’s probably worth hearing why your man-in-the-street loves them so much.

Remember when Microsoft came out with the ribbon, that thing with all the icons on it?  I’m sure you thought, as did I, that this was like putting all your kitchen pots, pans, appliances and silverware on the counters.  On the one hand everything’s there when you need it.  But on the other hand, what a mess!  Custom toolbars I have found to combine the best of both worlds.  They give you what you need…and no more.

How do they work?  Let’s say I use the following commands in my word document: copy, paste, font size, text style, review changes panel, and view page width (actually what I really use is just about that).  Without the customer toolbar I have to go to an assortment of tabs on the ribbon to find what I need.  With the custom ribbon I simply have them on ONE ribbon, appropriately named “Michael”.

How do I Create my Custom Ribbon?

  1. 1. On the ribbon, anywhere, right click Customize the Ribbon.  A funny-looking panel of thingys will open.
  2. 2. Click the button “New tab”
  3. 3. Select the tab it just added, then click the button “Rename”
  4. 4. Name your new ribbon anything you want.  I use my name.
  5. 5. With your new tab selected, click New Group
  6. 6. Rename that as well. In this example I’ll name mine Review, since I want to add the “add comment” icon to it
  7. 5. Under choose commands in the top center, choose “Main Tabs”.  Eventually, you’ll figure out what the other choices do.
  8. 6. Assuming I want to add “Add a comment”, expand the Review section, click Comments, then click “Add comment”
  9. 7. Select your custom group under your new ribbon.  Here, it’s the one I named “Review”
  10. 8. Hit the right arrow marked “Add” in the center, and it will add it to your new custom ribbon, in the section marked Review
  11. 9. Repeat this for every command you use frequently.  And if you forget one, no problem just add it later.

Once You Are Fluent

Once you start using it and adding things to it you’ll figure out how to find lessor known commands.  You’ll also figure out you can disable the ribbon tabs you never use.  As you use your custom ribbon more and more, you’ll find you won’t need most of the ribbons windows provides.  Finally, if your custom ribbon grows to be too cluttered, just add another custom ribbon.  I have one marked “Michael” and another marked “Michael Editing”

Have a Great Week,

Michael Emerald, CFA

Owner, Wall Street Analyst

Performance Business Design

Categories: Technology

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