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Tips and Tricks
Tips and Tricks

My computer’s been fixed – Now I need to ‘fix’ Microsoft Office

  by Deborah Zotian  

A friend bought a new laptop because her old one decided it was time to ‘retire’. Then, a few days later, my work system decided to follow her laptop. We both had lots of ‘tweaks’ on our respective systems, which were now gone.

There’s nothing worse than having your computer decide to just stop working. Unless it’s trying to remember all the setups in your software.

This is going to happen to all of us at one time or another. You just have to dive in and fix things so you can feel comfortable working again. These are some of the things I found in common to both of us – and may be in your system as well.

Fast Open and Save

In Office 2013, to open a new file, you have to go to the File tab (Backstage) and click on Open. Then, you need to click on Computer, or Recent Documents or SharePoint or OneDrive – Personal or OneDrive for Business or Other Web Locations or…or…or…

  • Go to the File tab
  • Click on Options
  • Click on the Save option
  • Check “Don’t show the Backstage when opening or saving files
  • Click OK

Don't show backstage when opening or saving files

Voila – Ctrl + O will bring up the Open dialog box and Ctrl + S will bring up Save or Save As (depending on if it’s an existing document or a new one).

Disable Reading View

For some reason, the default view in Word is the Reading View. I don’t want to read, I need to edit.

  • Go to the File tab, and select Options
  • Under Start up options, uncheck Open e-mail attachments and other uneditable files in reading view.

open email attachments and other uneditable files in reading view

That should keep your files from opening in reading view, and keep you from yelling at the screen.

Dots and arrows and backwards P’s, oh my

Speaking of your screen, I edit a lot of Word documents for the SharePoint Solutions Consultants in my office (one reason I don’t want files opening in Reading View). I prefer to have the formatting marks show on the screen – dots for spaces, arrows for tabs, the backwards “P” for paragraph marks (called a pilcrow). I find it easier to fix formatting, etc. when I can see all the marks.

Show/Hide can be turned on and off from the Paragraph section of the Home tab. Click on that backwards P to activate or make all those spots go away.

It can also be turned on from File – Options – Display – Always show these formatting marks on the screen. You can select all of the marks or only those you feel you want to see.

I also want to see the rulers on the top and side of the page. When I have tables on the page, it helps to see the rulers so I don’t have them hanging off the margins. The rulers can be turned on two ways. (This is Microsoft – of course there is more than one way to turn it on.)

  • From the View tab, go to the Show section. The first check box is Ruler. This will turn both rulers on or off.
  • From File – Options – Advanced – Display, you can turn off just the vertical ruler. The horizontal ruler at the top of the page remains.

show vertical ruler in print layout view

Where does the page end?

I also like to see the text boundaries. It used to be a box around the page at the margin. I’m not thrilled with the ‘new’ version in Office 2013 of a box every time you start a new paragraph. I now use the crop marks, which show where the top and bottom corners are for the margins. This can be set under Advanced – Show document content. It helps you see when you’re getting close to the bottom of your margin, especially if you have a large footer, or a lot of footnotes. It helps me gauge if the new paragraph I’m starting should be started on a new page or if it will fit on the current page.

show crop marks

Recent Documents

Another thing you can do from the Options menu is set the number of recent documents shown. The default is, I believe, four, and it is one of the first things I change. I have it set for 25 documents. The max is 50. (Options – Advanced – Display) When you do this in Word, it also affects the other Office programs. So, if you set it to 25, you’ll see the 25 most recent workbooks in Excel, or the 25 most recent presentations in PowerPoint, etc.

recent documents

If you’ve pinned any files (in any Office program), these will be gone with the rebuild. You will need to repin them as you use them. Or, if you’re lucky, you did a screen shot and have it saved in OneNote, which I had done just before my machine decided to crash. I was able to use the screen shot to figure out which files I needed to repin in my list.


Before you get ‘surprised’ with a rebuild or having to get a new computer, try to write down all the special settings you may have. OneNote is a great place to put these, in a notebook called My Computer. You won’t have everything in there, but it helps when you suddenly have to reset the options on your system. Even after a few months, I’m still finding things I forgot to ‘fix’ after the rebuild. And, yes, I have started a OneNote notebook for my computer settings, including the list of pinned files from before. No, it’s NOT saved on my computer. It’s saved in the cloud on OneDrive. Just in case.