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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Customizing Your Shortuct Menu

When you're in Word and you right-click on something, you get a snazzy shortcut menu with items specifically tailored to the thing upon which you right-clicked. Right? I remember in my Word support training, our motto was: "right click is your friend."

Well, I have some good news: you can make it your best friend! You can actually customize the shortcut menu that pops up when you right-click. I've added shortcuts for inserting pictures (which I used to replace picture placeholders in a large document I was working on), inserting captions, etc. You can add whatever Word feature you want to the shortcut menu, including macros; you can even nest them!
Make a customized shortcut menu in Microsoft Word
Here's how:

  1. Click Tools > Customize
  2. Go to the Toolbars tab
  3. Enable the Shortcut Menus toolbar
  4. Go to the Commands tab
  5. Find the feature/command/action/macro you want to assign, and drag it through the menus until you find the appropriate shortcut menu and drop it off, just like when you customize the menu/toolbars normally
Now, the Shortcut Menus toolbar is broken up into three categories, related to the kind of object they are associated with (e.g. "what did you just right-click on?"). You may want to explore the menus first, because there are variations of context menus, depending on the object and state of the object. The categories are:
  • Text: for when you right-click on text-related stuff like lists, fields, tracked changes, etc.
  • Table: for when you right-click on tables (duh)
  • Draw: for when you right-click on graphics and objects
For example, let's say that I want to add symbol inserting functionality (Insert > Symbol through the Insert menu) to the normal text context menu. Here's what I do:
  1. Do steps 1-4 aboveInsert a symbol in a Word document using a shortuct menu? No problem!
  2. Find the InsertSymbol entry (alternatively found in the Insert category)
  3. I grab that entry in the Customize box and:
    1. Drag it on the Text menu of the Shortcut toolbar
    2. Wait for the Text menu to open
    3. Drag it over to the Text submenu
    4. Wait for the Text submenu to open (it'll look like the normal menu I get when I right-click on text)
    5. Drag it over onto the menu and drop it off just above the Font entry
  4. Click Close on the customize box
  5. Right-click some text, and click on my brand new Symbol... context menu entry
Hopefully, you can see how this can make quick work of common tasks that slow you down because you have to navigate menus.

Of course, this is all temporary. If you rename the Data key in the registry (like when you're doing my How to Clean Word article), all of these changes are gone. But, if you're doing that, then you're probably not too interested in customizing your menus anyway. Also, most of these changes are probably short-term solutions anyway. I used my InsertPicture example customization for about two months, and then I didn't need it anymore. No big loss, but a big gain on time.

You can make it permanent, though less elegant solution by making a new toolbar, saving it in your Normal.dot, and just customizing your toolbar. Then, you're only in danger of losing your customizations if you delete your normal.dot. But that's another article.

Finally, if you'd like a quick way to remove stuff from your toolbars or menus, hold down the Alt key, and drag any menu/toolbar item from the menu onto the document. When you let it go, it'll be gone until you reset the menu/toolbar, or put it back. You can also use this trick to move menu/toolbar items around.

Now, get a customizin'!

1 comment:

אייל said...

Wow! Thanks so much.
I've been searching for how to do this, and all I got was instructions on how to program it in VBA...