TechBite: 5 Killer Word Tricks

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By Steve Bass

Have It Your Way
Microsoft Word: I can’t think of another application I’d like to have re-written to meet my needs. I’ll kvetch some more another time. Today, I have five tricks to fire up the way you use Word.

Tabs for Word. Cool!
You know how quickly you got used to opening multiple tabs in browsers? It’s a smart way to quickly move among Web pages; without it, browsing is lots like running applications in DOS.

Office Tab is a freebie that works in 2003 and older versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Double-click on the tab bar to open a new a document in a new tab; double-click a tab to close it. A right-click brings up a useful menu where you can save or close all your documents; the Options menu lets you change the look and color of the tabs.


You can save or close all your docs with one
click, or right-click the tab to close.


Have multiple tabs any way you’d
like in
Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.

The program is from a Chinese developer (his name might be wangminbai) and the Baidu.com site is confusing even using Google’s translation. The program, however, is entirely in English. Read the product description, browse through the FAQ, and download the Zipped Word tool. [top]

Work Menu: Favorites for Word
You know about the Work menu? No, I didn’t think so. It’s a nifty–and undocumented feature–in Word 2003 and earlier that lets you add a small pull-down menu onto the toolbar for instant access to often-used docs. For example, I stuck my Time Wasters doc onto the Work menu as well as a to-do list. It takes no time to active the feature, and it’s really simple, but telling you how to do it takes days. [top]

 
Add Word docs you often access to
the undocumented Work menu

  1. To set up the Work menu, select Tools, Customize, and click the Commands tab.
  2. In the Categories box, scroll down and select Built-In Menus.
  3. In the Commands box, scroll down to the bottom of the list and drag Work to your menu bar. I have mine next to the Help menu. Click the Close button.

Add a file name to the Work menu by opening a document and choosing Add to the Work Menu. When you’re ready to open the document again, click Work and select its file name from the list.

Removing a file name from the menu is a pain. Remember, this is an undocumented feature; I’m convinced that, at this point, the developers gave up. In your version of Word, there may be a Remove Menu Shortcut short, horizontal black line on the Work menu. Click it and the line will follow your cursor–and the Work menu will close. Reopen the Work menu, put the enlarged hyphen on the file name that you want to remove, and click it.

If the Remove Menu Shortcut isn’t on your work menu, press Ctrl-Alt-Hyphen (use the hyphen key next to zero at the top of the keyboard, not the minus sign on the numeric keypad), open the Work menu, and follow the steps above.

Warning: That big hyphen can delete any menu command you click–not just an item on the Work menu. So if you accidentally press this key combination and change your mind about deleting an item, press Esc.

A couple of things to know: The Work menu shows document shortcuts, so if you move the doc, the menu item is toast. You’re limited to nine entries and you can’t sort the list. There, I gave you something to complain about.

Some of you made the move to Word 2007, probably under duress. The Work menu is incorporated into the Recent Documents list–you can pin docs onto it so they don’t scroll off the list (just click the little pushpin icon next to a file name).

Take Control of Your Formatting
Let’s say you have a handful of words scattered throughout a document that you want to make bold or maybe italicized. You could grab a glass of wine and spend a couple of hours changing each individually.

A better bet is this not-very-obvious trick: Hold down the Ctrl key and highlight individual words, then apply the formatting. You can do this with sentences or paragraphs too. My Copy Editor Kim assures me it works fine in 2007.


Change the formatting on bunches of words using the Ctrl key trick.

Snappy Toolbar Changes
You ever want to move a toolbar button in Word 2003? There’s a quick trick: Hold down the Alt key and drag the button to its new location. You can copy a toolbar button just as easily by holding down Alt and the Ctrl keys, and then dragging the button to its new location. Alas, these snappy changes won’t work in 2007.

Learn about the other Killer Word Tricks Here

TechBite’s columnist Steve Bass and PC World Contributing Editor publishes a free weekly newsletter with commentary on the technology products he loves, the strategies for getting the most out of them,and the gotchas that can cause computing misery. Sign up for the newsletter here

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9 thoughts on “TechBite: 5 Killer Word Tricks

  1. Take Control of Your Formatting, Part II

    I got inspired by your tip “Take Control of Your Formatting.” I discovered a way to use your tip even more powerfully: Suppose you have one word or phrase that you want to change the formatting on, say a phrase like “Le Monde.”
    * On the menu bar click “Edit,” “Find,” (Or just press Ctrl F).
    * Then type in Le Monde and check the box that says “Highlight all items found in:”.
    * Click “Find All” and all instances of “Le Monde” will be highlighted. * Then click the “I” (the italics icon) on the formatting bar or apply any other formatting you want.

    Here’s your original hint:
    ————————–
    “Take Control of Your Formatting
    “Let’s say you have a handful of words scattered throughout a document that you want to make bold or maybe italicized. You could grab a glass of wine and spend a couple of hours changing each individually.

    A better bet is this not-very-obvious trick: Hold down the Ctrl key and highlight individual words, then apply the formatting. You can do this with sentences or paragraphs too. My Copy Editor Kim assures me it works fine in 2007.

    Change the formatting on bunches of words using the Ctrl key trick”

  2. I am trying to install the tabs for word and excel
    Icannot find the tabs you mention double click on.

    I omly see ons blank sheet and cannot seem to get another sheet addedntu use fir tabbing back and forth

    Any suggestions would be appreciated

  3. Very interesting info about Work Menu. I’ve tried it with Word 2003. Can’t find a Work command in the Customize box in Excel. Does this exist? This would be more useful to me than Word as I have some Excel documents I often access.

  4. Another good trick when you have a really difficult but often repeated name/phrase in a document is to put in something like “k12” instead and later do a “find, change all” to convert all occurrences of k12 to what you intended, e.g., Katherine the Great’s husband Leonev. You can of course use a bunch of these shortcuts in one document. DO NOT PUBLISH EMAIL ADDRESS.

  5. I am using ofice Tab. But one headache is when I close the window it asks me to save the new template or rewrite the normal.doc. But when u save it crashes and wants me to retrive the doc and send a report to Microsoft.Only way out was to save individual tab. then close individual tab and close the blank window.if it crashes therer is nothing to retrive. Otherwise utility is good.May be this is abug. Incidentally I have MS office 2000 and 2003.Works well for MSO2007

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