The New Big and Scary File menu

Earlier, the File menu was a humble drop-down menu. Since Office 2010, it suddenly occupies the whole screen. Scary! … is it not?

Think about it – why did Microsoft decide to give it so much space?
The answer is simple – because it is GOOD FOR YOU (as in – all of us – the users).
Find out the amazing facilities this menu provides us with. Reading time 4 minutes.

The big scary File Menu

It has more space simply because it has so many options. Earlier there was no space to expose all these useful things and that led to underutilization. People simply did not notice the options. Therefore Microsoft gave it all the available space. Hoping that, now at least people will start using these features. Unfortunately, we continue to ignore these powerful features.

Therefore, I am giving you a quick preview of what this amazing place called File menu has to offer to you. In fact it has a new name – it is called BackStage!

Like in a play being performed on the stage, the performance is the document itself. The file menu shows all the behind-the-scene options and facilities. Hence the name BackStage.

Information about the current document

Shown in Info tab. Very useful stuff. Have a look at each item at least once to know what  the purpose is. Depending upon the product, some options may change. For example, Excel has Browser View Options. Others do not have this option.

File Properties

Earlier we had to go to a dialog to see these. Now you can see them directly – and edit them as well. Much more simple and effective.

Edit Links

This option appears only if the currently open file contains links to external files. For example, presentations containing links to Excel data or Excel files having formulas referring to other Excel files. Click on this to manage links, check status and break them.

File path

In the beginning it shows the path where the file is saved. This area is clickable. It gives you two (or three) nice options…


If this is stored on OneDrive or SharePoint, Open file location will open the location in browser. However, if the document library is synched locally, it will open the local folder. Very handy options.

Protection Options


Learn these features. Some of these you may not even know about. Each of them is to be used in a different context.

Read these articles for details:
Prevent inadvertent changes in documents: Mark as Final
Document Protection: Quick Reference

Browser view options

These are available only for Excel. These options are useful only if you save the file to SharePoint (2010 or above). It allows you to choose which sheets or components (charts, pivot tables, etc.) to display on the browser. Very useful for disseminating reports without showing the underlying raw data.
Related article : New, Improved way of delivering Excel reports: Part 2

Also very useful for creating custom calculators instantly based upon Excel logic – without a single line of programming (will write a separate article on this soon).

Prevent leakage of sensitive information

Sometimes, by mistake, things like track changes, hidden sheets, comments, watermarks, file properties are sent to customers or published on public web sites. This can lead to compliance defaults and leak out unwanted information.

Check for Issues option helps you identify and delete such information with just few clicks.
Related article: Are you leaking sensitive information without realizing it?

File – New

This one shows blank document and some templates from Office Online. But most of us miss another option – Personal or Custom. These show templates created by you or distributed by the IT team. Very useful feature – but often missed.


Open, Save, Save As

These have a similar structure. It shows SharePoint sites, OneDrive (personal), OneDrive for Business (part of Office 355), local computer as places to save or open files from. This makes it extremely simple and quick to store files on the cloud.

It also shows a list of recently opened files and folders. Each file and folder has a pin next to it. If you click the pin, the folders or documents will ALWAYS be available in the menu for quick access.


This option combines print options and print preview in a single place. Sometimes, we miss the good old Quick Print button. If you want that button, click the dropdown after the QAT buttons and choose Quick Print.

Notice the zoom slider at the bottom. It helps you see preview of multiple pages at once.

Save and Send

These pool options related to sending files to others and exporting information in different ways. In 2013, this option has been split into two separate options Share and Export.


Office 2013 has Share option – which is very powerful. It allows you to invite people to view / edit a document that is stored in OneDrive or SharePoint.

It can also generate a public link for viewing or editing the file.

A special service called Office presentation service is also available here.
Present online to 50 persons using PowerPoint, for free!
Did you know you can “present” Word documents online?

Continued in part 2

This article is becoming long. Let us continue exploring the amazing File menu in the second part of this article.


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