Tag Archives: customize

Quickly Recreate a Custom Ribbon after Catastrophic Failure

a map "locator pin" styled as the MS Word logo
Find out more about creating custom ribbons in Section 33.4 of the book and in our courses!

Suddenly, my custom ribbon stopped working! We don’t ask Word why it does things, we just fix it or find a workaround. I found a quick way to copy over all my favourite functions onto a new custom ribbon, and ditch the one that was making Word crash every time I clicked on it. It’s as easy as drag and drop from the old ribbon to the new, once you’re into the “Customize ribbon” interface. I hope you never need it, but when you do, you can watch the solution, here!

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Add Your Own Custom Shortcuts in Word

A fox dives head first into the snow to catch its prey. (Public domain image from Yellowstone National Park, USA.)
A fox’s shortcut to food involves a head-first dive. Keyboard shortcuts are a tad easier.

Keeping your hands on the keyboard is a prime way to speed up work. The less you are hunting around ribbons and menus for the tool you need, the more efficient (and less frustrated) you’ll be. Learning existing shortcuts for navigating a document, cutting and pasting, etc. is an obvious way to keep your hands away from the mouse. Adding shortcuts for the things you do most is the productivity hack.

You can add a keyboard shortcut for almost any command, without creating a macro. Below you’ll find instructions for Windows users and Mac users. The core of the method is customizing the keyboard, and finding the command you want within the huge list of commands that are available.

Create a Keyboard Shortcut

  1. Open the keyboard dialog:
    • On a Windows computer, right-click on a blank grey area of Word’s ribbon, then select Customize The Ribbon… from the context menu that pops up. Then, click the Customize… button beside Keyboard Shortcuts: at the bottom of the left-hand list.
    • On a Mac, select the Customize Keyboard… option at the bottom of the Tools menu.
  2. In the keyboard dialog box that opens, scroll down the left-hand list of Categories: and click a category to look in. Figure 1 shows the Mac and Figure 2 shows Windows.
  3. Next, scroll until you find the desired command in the right-hand list of commands, then select it.
  4. Click in the Press new keyboard shortcut field, then press the combination of keys you want to assign to this command.*
  5. When you find a suitable key combination, click the Assign button, then OK.

*Note the text beneath the Press new keyboard shortcut field; it shows whether that key combination is already assigned. There are several dozen existing shortcuts and no online list seems to be thorough. You just have to try one. You can overwrite an existing shortcut just by doing the last two steps above. You might decide to “reassign” the shortcut for Close File since you always use Close Window, for example.

Figure 1 Mac Customize Keyboard dialog
Figure 2 Windows Customize Keyboard dialog

List Your Shortcuts

Remembering shortcuts can be challenging. If you go back into that keyboard dialog (Step 1 above), you can always look up a command (Step 2 and 3) and see what shortcut you assigned to it. It will be listed in the Current Shortcut field. Even better, keep a list in your work area. Periodically print out a list:

In any document, click Print to open the Print dialog. Select Word settings, and in the Print What drop-down, select Key assignments (Fig. 3 shows the Mac interface, Fig. 4 shows Windows, though these dialog boxes vary slightly on any computer, depending on your OS and your printer).

print options in Word for Mac, showing how to print the key assignments (keyboard shortcuts)
Figure 3 Mac Print dialog
print options in Word for Windows
Figure 4 Windows Print dialog

This only prints a list of the shortcuts you created, not those built into the system, such as those for Select All or Save.