In every Micrsoft Essentials training, we talk about customizing the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). In a similar vein, did you know you can customize your Microsoft Ribbon as well? Indeed, you can create your own custom groups with those hard-to-find favorite features. This is just another way to save yourself a few clicks throughout the day… which we all know can add up to a lot of time. Let’s take a look.
There is no exercise file today, because you will be customizing the ribbon on your individual download of Microsoft Office. If you would like to follow along, open up a blank Word document.
Layout of the Ribbon
The Ribbon is made up of:
- Tabs: e.g. Home, Insert, Design
- Groups: printed at the bottom of each tab, e.g. Clipboard, Font, Paragraph
- Commands: the buttons/features within each group
Throughout all our sessions, have also talked about how we see specific Contextual Tabs, or Tool Tabs, appear as we access certain features (pictures, tables, etc.). All of these can be customized.
How to Customize the Ribbon
Let’s say that you have been doing a lot of work in Word. You would like to make it easier to find Alt Text when inserting images. You also frequently find yourself adjusting Headers, Footers, and Page Setup options, and would like to save yourself a few clicks in finding these features.
Create a Group
- Right click in a grey space on top of the ribbon and select Customize the Ribbon.
- Notice this looks similar to the QAT customization screen, but this time Customize Ribbon is highlighted.
- Highlight the Home tab on the right and press New Group at the lower right of the screen.
- A new group will appear in the home tab list. Select it and press Rename to name it something else. I am going to name mine Special.
Let’s add a few commands to the Special group.
- Select the Special group on the right pane.
- On the Left Pane, change the dropdown from Popular Commands to All Commands.
- Scroll down to Edit Footer. Select it, press the Add button between the two panes.
- Do the same for Edit Header, and Page Setup
Once you click OK, you will see a new group with your custom commands.
Customizing a Contextual/Tool Tab
We added the previous commands to the Home tab in Word. We also would like to add Alt Text to the Picture Tools contextual tab. Contextual/Tool tabs are tabs that we don’t see until we select a specific object (like a picture) the document.
Note: if you are using Office 365, Alt text will already appear on the Picture Tools tab by default.
To customize the Contextual/Tool tabs:
- Right click on the ribbon and select Customize the Ribbon
- On the right pane, change the dropdown from Main Tabs to Tool Tabs.
- Find the Picture Tools tab and select the only group (Format).
- Follow the instructions above to add Alt Text to your picture tools tab.
You will not be able to remove the default commands from the ribbon, but if you would like to remove commands that you have added yourself, you can do so easily:
- Right click on the ribbon and select Customize the Ribbon.
- Highlight the command or group (in our case, Special) on the right pane
- Press the Remove button between the two panes
Remember, this works in all your Microsoft Office programs, not just our Word examples above. I am sure there are special features you wish you could access more easily, so I can’t wait to hear what you decide to do! A few I have added to mine are:
- Outlook: Journal Feature to the Home tab (and QAT, because I am extra).
- All Programs: Alt Text to the Picture Tools tab
- As I mentioned earlier, in Microsoft 365, Alt text will appear on the picture tools tab by default, but if you are on 2016 or earlier, it can be a huge time saver to add it yourself.
- Excel: Set Print Area to the Home Tab
How will you customize the ribbon on your Office programs? I would love to hear which commands you decide to add!
Congratulations, Power Users!
Congratulations to our Power Users! For a full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit: wichita.edu/poweruser