Note: This article originally appeared as an entry in our 10 Things blog. It’s also available as a PDF download.

The Office 2007 Ribbon is designed to make tools and options easier to find, and it’s fairly convenient — most of the time. But the commands you need aren’t always available. Sometimes, you have to switch between Ribbon tabs to access a command. Switching from one tab to another isn’t a big deal, but if you do it a lot, it can become a nuisance. Fortunately, it’s a nuisance you can avoid.

Add a command to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) and it will always be available, regardless of the current tab. But you’ll want to be a little bit discriminating about what you place on the QAT, because it can fill up in a hurry. Good candidates include those commands you have to search for when you need them:

  • Any existing control, group, gallery, or menu item for easy access.
  • Macros for quick execution.

You can also add separators to group items or reorder commands to offer a sense of organization.

To quickly add an item to the QAT, find it on the Ribbon, right-click it, and choose Add To Quick Access Toolbar. To quickly remove an item from the QAT, right-click it and choose Remove From Quick Access Toolbar. To add an item that’s not on the Ribbon, do the following:

  1. Choose More Commands from the QAT’s drop-down list (Figure A) to display the Word Options dialog box.

Figure A

  1. From the Choose Commands From control, select Commands Not In The Ribbon, as shown in Figure B, to update the list of items.

Figure B

  1. Select the command you want to add to the QAT.
  2. Click Add to move the item to the Customize Quick Access Toolbar list. You can add many items at one time.
  3. When you’re finished, click OK.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what items end up on your QAT. But there are several that you’ll probably want to add as soon as you upgrade to Office 2007. Here are a few suggestions.

1: Frequently used commands

Most of the frequently used commands are available via 2007’s Office button. By default, the QAT displays three commands: Save, Undo, and Repeat. You’ll probably want to add at least a few of your other frequently used commands to the QAT. To start, consider adding the following commands by application and customize further as needed:

  • Word: New, Open, Save, Quick Print, Print Preview, Spelling & Grammar
  • Excel: Open, Save, Quick Print
  • Access: Open, Print Preview
  • PowerPoint: Open, Save, Spelling & Grammar

2: Track Changes in Word

If you author or review documents, add Track Changes to the QAT. Track Changes is available on the Review tab in the Tracking group. Going that route requires three clicks to enable or disable Track Changes if you’re working in another tab. If you add the Track Changes command to Word’s QAT, you can work in any tab and enable or disable Track Changes with one quick click. (You can do the same by pressing [Ctrl]+[Shift]+E, but adding the command to the QAT might be easier than memorizing one more keyboard shortcut.)

3: Paragraph dialog in Word

Technically, the Paragraph dialog box isn’t on Word’s 2007 Ribbon, although you can click the dialog box launcher in the lower-right corner of the Paragraph group on the Home tab to access it. Not exactly intuitive. Adding the Paragraph command to the QAT might ease the transition to Word 2007 quicker and save you time when you’re viewing another tab.

4: Clear Formats in Word and PowerPoint

Getting rid of formatting can take a bit of thought. On the Home tab in the Font group, you can click Clear Formatting in Word or click Clear All Formatting in PowerPoint. This command removes all formatting, such as bold, underline, and so on, while retaining the default formatting style. A quicker way is to add Clear Formats to the QAT.

5: Design View in Access

The View command is available in many groups, making it easy to switch from Design View to full view. However, getting to Design View isn’t always as easy. Adding Design View to the QAT probably won’t impress users, but it will help you during the development, testing, and debugging stages.

6: Visual Basic

Add the Visual Basic command to the QAT if you’re a developer. This command is the equivalent of pressing [Alt]+[F11] to launch the Visual Basic Editor. A quick click and you’re in the VBE. Although Access developers might appreciate it more than others, you can add Visual Basic to any application’s QAT.

7: Save As PDF

If you save files to PDF format, add the Save As PDF command to the QAT. PDF is a fixed-layout format that’s easy to share and print, but not so easy to change. Many organizations use Word to collect and edit content and PDF format to publish that content.

Before you can use the Save As PDF command, you must install an add-in. Visit 2007 Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS and follow directions for downloading and installing the add-in. The Save As PDF command will be available from the Office button and you can add it to the QAT to make running the command even quicker.

8: Format Painter

Format Painter’s been around for a long time and users depend on it — a lot. This command lets you quickly copy formats from one section of content to another. In 2007, it isn’t always available when needed, so add it to the QAT in all the applications you use.

9: Form in Excel

A data form in Excel is a dialog box that allows you to enter or view a complete row of information in a specific range or table. But the Form button isn’t on the Excel 2007 Ribbon. If you frequently use data forms, add the Form button to the QAT.

10: Document Location in Excel

The Document Location control displays the path and filename for the current workbook. It provides an easy way to copy the entire path into an e-mail, Word document, or Access table. It’s not on the Excel 2007 Ribbon either.

Your turn…

What commands have you found elusive or indispensable enough to earn a spot on your Quick Access Toolbar? Share your suggestions in the discussion thread.