Does the upper left corner of your Excel/Word screen look like this?
If so, you NEED to take advantage of the Quick Action Toolbar (QAT). This is something everyone should do and not just us Excel Geeks. The QAT is easy to modify and makes your everyday tasks just one click away. Why should you bother with the QAT? Simple answer: Save time, make Excel (and Word) easier to use.
The QAT is that list of command icons at the very top, just to the right of the “Office” button. In this illustration, we have Save, Redo, and Undo as the default commands. These are the out of the box defaults and for most people they are the only commands on the QAT.
Here’s an example of why to change. Back in the old days, I used to change windows from one open Excel workbook to another by simply clicking on the “Windows” menu item and picking the sheet from the list at the bottom of the menu. It was easy and I knew where to find it. Now, with the Office Ribbon menu system, I have to go find where they moved the command. [It is on the View ribbon, almost all the way to the right. “Switch Windows” shows me the list of open workbooks I am looking for]. It now takes three clicks to do what two clicks used to do. Using the QAT, I can make it just one click.
Another example: In the old Excel menu system, what font was being used was always visible on the Formatting toolbar (which most of us always had open). Now, you have to be on the Home ribbon to see what size font is in the selected cell. I like to be able to tell if the point size of a font is the same from one cell to another. If I don’t have the Home ribbon open, I have to go switch back to the Home ribbon, just to check the font. What a pain. Once I add it to the QAT, my font size is always visible again with no mouse clicks.
With the change to the “ribbon”, a number of commands have moved to obscure locations and additional mouse clicks have been added to your work. By customizing the QAT, you can save yourself time and trouble by putting lots of these “where are they” or “I use all the time” commands on your QAT.
It only takes just a little bit of time to customize your QAT. Start by making a list of the things you do all the time or those (like my examples above) that annoy you about the change to the ribbon menu structure. Then, build your QAT to make all of those commands just ONE CLICK.
Here’s how you do it…
There are two ways you should know about. First, at the right of the QAT is the “Customize Quick Action Toolbar” button. Click it and get started. The list of commands that show up here is helpful but limited. Click on “More Commands” and you have full access to everything you can put on the toolbar. Find the command in the left panel and add it to the right panel. You can use the up and down buttons at the far right to change the order of the commands in your list.
And here is a bonus! There are commands available here that can be added to the QAT that you can’t get to from any ribbon menu. You can only use these commands if you add them to your QAT!
The second way to add items to your QAT is to find the command in the normal ribbon, right click on it, and select “Add to Quick Access Toolbar.” Quick, simple, and lots of benefit, try it, you’ll like it.
One last thing, if you get so many command icons on your QAT that it starts to mess with the title and file name in the Title Bar, no worries. You can move the QAT to below the ribbon. Just click the “Customize Quick Action Toolbar” and select the option “Show below the Ribbon.” You may want to do that anyway to shorten the distance you have to mouse to click on you QAT.
I hope you find this tip beneficial. If you have a favorite Excel tip, send me a note and I will share it with everyone. Enjoy!