Microsoft Office Tips: Use the Quick Access Toolbar

June 16, 2016 by
Donal McCarthy

I’m one of these annoying PC users who know and use tons of keyboard and productivity shortcuts. I live in Microsoft Office, in particular, Work, Excel, and Outlook. In this series of blog posts, I will share some of my wisdom with you – lucky you!

Joking aside, the idea is that if you are a project manager or a team member, these tips will save you time and enable you to do more.

What is the Quick Access Toolbar?

The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) is that little ribbon generally found over the ribbon to which you can add your own commands.

PowerPoint Ribbon

The Ribbon was introduced in Office 2007 to much weeping and gnashing of teeth – it is hard to believe that people preferred to search for commands in menus and submenus. I had a friend who was an Office trainer who totally hated it. Imagine trying to make people go back to the below today!

However, the Ribbon is not perfect. You can often find yourself suddenly overwhelmed by the multitude of options in the visual array and forget why you are looking at it!

The reality of a feature rich application like Word or PowerPoint is that 20% of the commands are the ones you use 80% of the time, and possibly 10% of the commands 90% of the time; however, the user interface gives most of the options equal billing.

In future we will hopefully have dynamic UIs that will reshape themselves around a mix of what we are currently doing, and what we frequently do, we are not there yet though (stupid always ‘in the future’ future!). This is where the Quick Access Toolbar comes in.

You most likely already know what the toolbar is, but if a cursory glance over the shoulders of most of my colleagues tells me anything, you are probably not using it.

Add a Command to the Quick Access Toolbar

Adding a command that already exists in the Ribbon is as easy as right-clicking on it and selecting Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

Add to Quick Access Toolbar

Interestingly (if you like that sort of thing!), there is a list if commands that are not available on the ribbon. To get to these, click the little arrow at the edge of the QAT and select More Commands.

 

more-commands

Then select the Commands Not in the Ribbon option. Many of these are commands that you can find a few clicks into the ribbon; however, some of them are only available via the Commands Not in Ribbon option – for example there is a Save All option (very useful when you have 10 docs open and need to shut down quickly) and a Document Location option (very useful for sharing doc locations).

 

commands-not-in-the-ribbon

Reorder the Quick Access Toolbar and Save your Work

The Quick Access Toolbar dialog above also allows you to reorder the sequence of the commands so you can put similar commands beside each other.

It also allows you to Export and save your configurations and import them when you need to – this is a really neat feature if you become a heavy user of the Quick Access Toolbar, as I’ve lost my settings a few times. You would think that this would be automatically applied with your O365 or Microsoft Account!

Put it Under and Hide the Ribbon

I personally find the toolbar a lot easier to use if I put it under the ribbon. This is pretty easy to setup – just select Show Below the Ribbon!

show-below-the-ribbon

Once you have the toolbar setup with the commands you use the most, go ahead and hide the ribbon and see how often you need to interact with it – to hide it, just click the little arrow at the far right of the ribbon.

hide-ribbon

The ribbon commands are always available behind a tab, to bring the ribbon back permanently, just click the pin where the close the ribbon arrow can be found.

pin-the-ribbon

Let me know what you think in the comments below!