Another old Office tip, another swipe at The Ribbon

Before Microsoft introduced The Ribbon in Office 2007, there were toolbars. This Classic Tip shows old Office toolbars worked in Word. Plus how to work around The Ribbon with Search Commands.

Before Microsoft introduced The Ribbon in Office 2007, there were toolbars. This Classic Tip shows how old Office toolbars worked in Word. Plus you'll see how to work around The Ribbon with Search Commands.


As I've mentioned before in Classics Rock, I'm no great fan of the Office 2007 Ribbon. In a previous post, I pointed out how much better things were in Excel before The Ribbon. Today's Classic Tip comes from the July 17, 2000, edition of the TechRepublic Word Techmail and may point out where Microsoft got the idea that The Ribbon would be a beautiful idea:


July 17, 2000


No matter which version of Word you use, Toolbars save precious time

and make you more productive. To display a toolbar, open the View menu,

choose Toolbars, and click on a toolbar option. When you do, Word

displays the new toolbar on your screen.

The problem is that Word by default puts different toolbars in

different locations and forms. The thing toolbar enthusiasts often

overlook is the ability to customize a toolbar's location and shape.

Suppose you like all of your toolbars in horizontal rows at the top of

your screen. When Word displays a new toolbar floating out in the top-

right corner of your screen, click on it and drag it under the other

horizontal toolbars. When the "ghost" image of the toolbar you're

dragging changes from its original shape to a thin, horizontal

rectangle, release the mouse.

On the other hand, for convenient access, you can drag any horizontal

toolbar out into your document area at any time. Just click on the

"handle," that heavy white, shadowed line at the far-left edge of the

toolbar (or click in the space between any two icons on the toolbar--a

bit trickier, but possible), and drag. The "ghost" outline image of the

toolbar will be a rectangle. Drag it to where you want it and release

the mouse. To fine-tune that rectangular shape, click on the borders to

make the floating rectangle taller and thinner or shorter and wider.


I'm sure the software designers at Microsoft got to thinking about the dozens of toolbars that some users may have cluttering up the screen and figured that something like The Ribbon would clear it up. Arguably it is a cleaner design than having random toolbars scattered about, but still...

Dealing with The Ribbon

Fortunately, there is a new tool out that will help us Ribbon-Haters who are forced to contend with Office 2007. It's an add-on utility from Microsoft out of the Office Labs called Search Commands.

Search Commands is an add-on for Microsoft Office that allows you to find the long lost commands in Microsoft Office that have been buried by The Ribbon. It works with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, not the other Office 2007 components. That's just as well because the rest of the packages haven't been damaged too much by The Ribbon yet.

Once you download and install the add-on, it adds another tab to the top of The Ribbon. Click the Search Commands tab, and then you can enter the command you're trying to find. The results will appear next to the search box as shown below:

You can then just click on the result you want. It will automatically execute the given command. No more digging through The Ribbon.

Search Commands is a handy tool. If you hate The Ribbon as much as I do, I suggest downloading and installing this tool right away.


Is there an old Office tip with Office 2007? I am trying to continue my 60 day Free Trial of Office but the website will not let me put in the product key that was given. Please help me out. I got as far as OneNote (as a seperate download), but i need the rest of Office Home and Student 2007. H E L P M E


One has to question the utility of a software feature, like The Ribbon, when one has to install an add-on utility to make it useful. Am I the only one that sees the humor in this? At any rate, I think it's a bad idea to install the add-on because, otherwise you will never learn the layout of the new Ribbon -- hate it or not. (I'm a barely adequate typist. But only if I'm looking directly at the keyboard. Even though I'm not hunting for keys, I learned the bad habit of looking down at the keyboard when I type. Similarly, relying on this add-on may make you dependent on it and will suffer later when it's no longer available.)

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Yes, that is the bad thing about the command. It will act as a kind of crutch that will prevent you from actually LEARNING The Ribbon. However, if you hover your mouse over the Search Results, the add-in will tell you where in the Ribbon the command is. Another benefit is that it will tell you if the command is NOT in the ribbon. For example in the screen capture for the blog entry - 3 of the 4 search results don't appear in The Ribbon, but the Search Commands button allows you to perform the action as if you pulled it from a menu bar.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

I found an old Word TechMail tip for Classics Rock that talked about how to arrange Word Toolbars on the screen. I decided that that was how Microsoft's designers got the idea for The Ribbon: One way of dealing with The Ribbon is to find ways to work around it. One way is the Search Commands add-on from Microsoft's Office Labs. I describe it in that post. If you're a Ribbon-Hater like myself but have to use Office 2007, what do you do to avoid The Ribbon?


When Office 2007 first came out, I tried it, and even tried it with the Quick Access bar, but despite all my efforts, the stupid ribbon would keep popping up, so I uninstalled it and went back to 2003. Well, I finally had to go to 2007, and was happy to find that the Ribbon stopped popping up if my pointer got within 10 feet of it after installing sp2. I still dislike Office 2007 in general, but I've found one or two small things to like. For instance, they've fixed the automatic list numbering issue that plagued me in 2003. In 2003, if your list was too long, or too many levels, it would lose it's place and even the format in the autonumber, then it was a b*tch to get it corrected. I recently had to do a long list with many levels and was happy to see that fixed. It almost makes up for the ribbon. Almost...


stretches all the way across the top of the screen. Document titles no longer fit properly in their space. Works pretty darn well, so far. ;)

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

*chuckle* I guess using the Quick Access bar like that is a good idea too. Kind of silly the way Microsoft would allow document titles to disappear though.

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