Software

Modify Word's Close All icon image

Word's Close and Close All icons are the same, but there are at least three easy ways to make a visible distinction between the two icons.

Most users add a few of their favorite commands to a toolbar for quick access. The addition of a few extra buttons isn't distracting or confusing. But, I ran into a situation recently that got the better of me…for just a minute. The Close and Close All commands use the same icon. If you want both, you must remember which position represents which command, or change one of the icons. I chose the latter.

First, the good news: You don't need to be an expert to add a command to a toolbar! The steps are easy (in Word 2003 and earlier):

  1. Click the dropdown arrow that appears at the right end of any open toolbar, choose Add or Remove Buttons, and then click Customize. Or, right-click the background of any toolbar and choose Customize. Or, choose Customize from the Tools menu.
  2. Click the Commands tab in the resulting Customize dialog box. With this dialog open, the toolbars and menu bar, and all their menus and buttons are in Edit mode.
  3. From the Categories list, select the appropriate menu.  In this case, click File (the default).
  4. Doing so updates the items in the Commands list to the right. Drag and drop the appropriate command from this list to a toolbar. To recreate my problem, drag Close and Close All to a toolbar.

I told you it was simple, but my situation was complicated by the two look-alike icons with different tasks!

Now, you might be able to remember that Close is on the left and Close All is on the right, but I don't trust myself that much. If you support users, you don't have much of a choice. In the end, I chose to edit the image of the Close All icon.

To modify an icon, the Customize dialog box must be open (in Edit mode); you can leave it open when you add the Close and Close All commands to a toolbar. If you closed the dialog box after adding the icons, you must open it again. Then, with the Customize dialog box open, click the Close All button on your toolbar and then click Modify Selection. At this point, you have at least three simple ways to distinguish Close All from Close.

Display text

The simplest solution is to display text instead of the icon. After clicking Modify Selection, choose the Text Only (Always) item on the resulting submenu. You can display the icon for one and text for the other, or display text for both. Either way, you'll have no trouble telling them apart.

Change the color

If displaying the icon text isn't an option, the next best solution is to change the color of one. After clicking Modify Selection, choose Edit Button Image. Click a colored square in the Colors section and then start clicking those tiny squares that make up the actual icon image. This is a tedious process, but don't worry about making a mistake. You can click Cancel at any time and start over. Click as many or as few of the squares as you like to get the look you want. Then, click OK when you're done.

This method is only marginally better than leaving both icons alone, as you still have to remember which color represents which command.

Add a clue

For myself, I'd probably use the Text option above. It's simple and gets the job done. That won't always work for users or custom templates. Sometimes company conventions limit your options. If you must use icon images, you need to distinguish one image from the other. The best solution I came up with was to add an A to the Close All icon.

This solution takes a bit more work, but only a little. After clicking Modify Select, choose Edit Button Image. This time, click a color and then click the appropriate squares to draw an A on the folder icon. When you're satisfied, click OK.

The icons are still similar, but the A on the Close All icon clearly identifies the difference between the two.

You can add Close and Close All to the Quick Access Toolbar in Word 2007, but it isn't easy to modify a button's image.

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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