Customizing the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in Word 2007

June 1, 2009 at 7:02 pm

A common reaction of people who migrate to Word 2007 from an earlier version of Word is dismay that it lacks toolbars. When you first install Word 2007, the only toolbar you can see — and it’s barely noticeable, tiny and tucked away in the upper left-hand corner of the screen — is the Quick Access Toolbar, sometimes referred to as the QAT.

As it turns out, the QAT can be extremely useful. You can right-click it and then click “Show Quick Access Toolbar Below the Ribbon,” and it will expand into a full-sized toolbar that stretches all the way across the screen. Then you can add icons and drop-downs representing the features you use most often.

What makes the expanded QAT particularly functional is the fact that once you’ve added icons, they remain available at all times, regardless of which tab of the Ribbon is active. So, for example, I’ve added an icon for “Close Header and Footer,” because sometimes when I’m working in a header or footer editing screen, I need to navigate to a different tab — thereby losing access to the Close Header and Footer button in the Header and Footer Design Tools. I’ve also added icons for Switch Windows (since there’s no longer a Window menu), Insert Symbols, Envelope & Label Wizard, Line Spacing, and Insert Text From File. Moreover, I added boxes with drop-downs for font face, font size, and styles — items I relied on heavily in earlier versions of Word but lost when Microsoft decided to jettison the Standard and Formatting Toolbars.

There are lots of possibilities.

In order to add icons and/or drop-downs to the QAT, right-click it, then click “Customize Quick Access Toolbar…” You’ll be taken to the Customize screen in Word Options. Toward the top left, you’ll see a drop-down list that is set by default to “Popular” (i.e., popular commands). You’ll probably want to change that to “All,” even though the resulting list is quite lengthy. When you click within the commands list below the drop-down, pressing a letter of the alphabet will take you to the first command that begins with that letter.

To add an icon, just click to select it, then click the “Add” button. Note that there are arrows that allow you to move icons up or down (which really moves them to the left or right in the QAT). Once everything is set the way you like, click OK.

If you add an icon and then decide you don’t want it on the QAT, just right-click it, then click the “Remove from Quick Access Toolbar” command.

Unfortunately, you can’t display more than one row of the QAT. (You can continue adding icons and drop-downs after the row is full, and the additional commands will be added to a menu that opens out from the QAT.) Maybe Microsoft will change that in the next version.

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