Office Q&A: Three quick settings that yield more efficient work sessions

This month, Susan Harkins helps three readers improve their work experiences by modifying settings.



Sometimes the smallest tweaks can have a big impact on productivity. This month, three readers found relief by adjusting simple default settings:

  • Sam changed his keyboard input speed so Word can keep up with him.
  • Jeremy's bookmarks now convert to PDF format.
  • Alyssa learned how to bypass Word's Start scree.

I'm using Office 2016 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but these settings are available in older versions. There's no downloadable demonstration file because you won't need one.

Keyboard can't keep up

Sam has a good problem to have—he types fast! Unfortunately, his keyboard lags behind, and Word often gets confused. Sam loses time by having to undo actions he didn't intend and then retyping the lost content. This problem isn't a Word problem though. The keyboard input speed is a Windows setting you can customize to suit your needs:

  1. In Cortana, type Control Panel and choose the Control Panel desktop app. If you're using an earlier version, access the Control Panel via the Start menu.
  2. In the resulting list, click Keyboard.
  3. Move the Repeat Delay option closer to Short (Figure A) for fast input; to slow things down, move it closer to Long.
  4. Click OK and then close Windows Explorer.

Figure A

Change the input speed.

You might have to experiment a bit before you find the right setting.

Lost bookmarks when converting to PDF

When Jeremy converts a document that contains a table of contents to a PDF, Word fails to convert the links. Word 2016 users shouldn't experience this omission if they use built-in settings and Word's table of contents feature—the links covert fine without extra work on our part.

Earlier versions require a specific setting and unfortunately, it's not easy to find. First, choose Save As from the File tab. Don't use the Save As Type dropdown to change the format as you normally would. Instead, click More Options (Figure B).

Figure B

Click Options to find the right setting.

In the resulting dialog, choose PDF (*.pdf) from the Save As Type dropdown and then click the Options button (Figure C).

Figure C

Click Options to access the setting.

In the resulting dialog, check the Create Bookmarks Using option and then identify the appropriate links by type, as shown in Figure D. You'll choose Headings if you used the built-in styles and table of contents feature. Click OK and Save. Then, confirm whether you're updating page numbers or the entire table and click OK again. Your table of contents links and bookmarks should convert to the PDF format.

Figure D

Specify whether you're converting built-in links or bookmarks.

You can convert a document to PDF using the browser version of Word, but this option isn't available and links won't persist. If you're using Word 2007, you'll need an add-in, which you can download for free at 2007 Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS. You can learn more about Word's table of contents feature by reading the following articles:

Bypassing Word's Start screen

Alyssa almost always starts with a blank document when using Word. Out-of-the-box, Word displays the Start screen, shown in Figure E, also known in older versions as the Backstage area. Here, you choose a blank document, template, or work through the folder system to find an existing file.

Figure E

Word defaults to the Start screen.

Admittedly, having to click the Blank Document option seems like a small detour, but doing it several times a day is tedious—and you don't have to! You can bypass the Start screen by disabling a setting as follows:

  1. Click the File tab and choose Options at the bottom of the left panel.
  2. Choose General from the left panel.
  3. In the Start Up Options section, uncheck the Show The Start screen When This Application Starts option (Figure F).
  4. Click OK to return to your Word document.

Figure F

This option bypasses the Start screen when launching Word.

After disabling this option, Word will bypass the Start screen when you launch Word. You still have access to templates and new documents using Open and New on the Quick Access Toolbar or via the File tab. You don't have access to options in Word's browser version; I know of no way to bypass that screen using the browser.

Send me your question about Office

I answer readers' questions when I can, but there's no guarantee. Don't send files unless requested; initial requests for help that arrive with attached files will be deleted unread. You can send screenshots of your data to help clarify your question. When contacting me, be as specific as possible. For example, "Please troubleshoot my workbook and fix what's wrong" probably won't get a response, but "Can you tell me why this formula isn't returning the expected results?" might. Please mention the app and version that you're using. I'm not reimbursed by TechRepublic for my time or expertise when helping readers, nor do I ask for a fee from readers I help. You can contact me at

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About Susan Harkins

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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