Tag Archives: toolbar

Incremental Search in QAT customization list

Probably nobody noticed it. But this is an example of how Microsoft is looking at even the smallest inconveniences and resolving them to improve efficiency. In order to understand this topic, you have to know how to perform the QAT customization – Quick Access Toolbar. You can read this article for details.

While customizing QAT, you see two lists. The list on the left side has thousands of items – all available features in the product. The list on the right side contains items which are already there in your QAT.

The idea is to find the desired item from the main list and add it to the right side list. Now, in the longer list, if you wanted to find, let us say the item “Split”, you could not type the characters s p l. Basically, incremental search did not work at all. If you typed s p l it will show you the first entry of l rather than the entry starting with spl.

This required lot of scrolling and manual searching because it is a very long list. It is not a major issue but a small irritant. However, recently, Microsoft solved this and now, the long list supports incremental search. In short, you type spl together and it will go to Split item (in Word).

Incremental Search in QAT customization works.

We usually miss incremental improvements

The reason I am writing this article is that, most probably, I would have missed this improvement altogether. Why? Because for many years the list did not support incremental search. Once we know that something is not going to work, we just don’t try it.

Luckily, I tried it recently, hoping that true to its continuous improvement thought process, Microsoft may provide incremental search some day. And it did work.

A classic example of missing incremental improvements is associated with Excel. In older versions, if you click inside a cell and type CTRL A the entire sheet would get selected. What we wanted is to select the block of data around the selection. People just gave up on CTRL A.

But somewhere down the line (I don’t remember the exact version), Microsoft did enhance Ctrl A to select the current region of contiguous data. Unfortunately, most users who were earlier disillusioned with CTRL A never tried it again and they still don’t know that CTRL A works.

Such if life!

Quick Access Toolbar – Practical Usage

In the last post we saw how to customize the Quick Access Toolbar. I am sure you will add useful buttons there. Notice that the toolbar buttons and the file name share the same title bar.

image

Here is a quick dose of some terminology you need to know.

Quick Access Toolbar

Problem: Too many Quick Access Toolbar buttons – file name is cut off

When you add more and more buttons, the file name gets pushed to the right. At some point, long file names will not be seen fully.

Microsoft Office Ribbon

Solution is simple. Right click on the QAT and choose Show the Quick Access Toolbar below the Ribbon

Now the toolbar moves below the ribbon and the filename is not disturbed.

Quick Access Toolbar below Ribbon

For the curious reader… The question is, why did Microsoft not place the QAT below the ribbon by default? That is because, most people don’t understand what QAT is and never customize it. In that case, the extra space which the QAT would occupy below the ribbon would be a waste of precious screen space.

Keyboard shortcuts

In the previous article we saw the need for having keyboard shortcuts for commonly used buttons which do not have a built-in keyboard shortcut. Add those buttons to QAT and then customize QAT to rearrange them so that the most commonly used buttons are in the first nine positions. Remove the three default buttons (Save, Undo and Redo) because they already have keyboard shortcuts.

Now press and release the ALT key and see what happens…

Alt Key and Keyboard Shortcut

All QAT items get a keyboard shortcut key. Press 5 in this case to enable (or disable) Guides. This is how we get a keyboard shortcut for keys which do not have a keyboard shortcut – without programming.

 

Sharing custom toolbars with your team

Now that your custom toolbar is helping you, others in your team or department may also benefit from it. So how do you make them efficient?

One method is to ask them to read these articles and customize their own toolbars. But on second thoughts, why not give them your custom toolbar save them some trouble?

This is how you share your customized toolbar with others.

Right click on the toolbar – Customize Quick Access Toolbar – Export – Save a file.

Send the file to your team. Ask them to import it. That’s it.

For IT professionals

In case you are wondering, you can use a combination of Group Policy and a login script to deploy custom toolbars automatically for users. Refer to this MSDN article for details.