Customizing the QAT

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How to add a command or macro to the Quick Access Toolbar

This article is for Word 2007 and above. The techniques described below are not available in toolbar versions (Word 2003 and earlier); for those versions, see my article on “Customizing Toolbars.”

Ribbon versions of Word offer varying degrees of customization. In Word 2007, the Ribbon cannot be customized through the UI; this facility was added in Word 2010. In all versions, however, the simplest way to customize Word is to add frequently used commands to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).

Positioning the QAT

When you first start Word, the QAT is above the Ribbon and has only three buttons: Save, Undo, and Redo/Repeat. You may wonder why those particular three were chosen, but you will almost certainly want to add more. Before you add very many, however, you will want to move the QAT.

Default QAT in Word 2010

Because the QAT, when it is displayed above the Ribbon, shares the title bar, the more buttons you add, the less space there is to display the document’s filename. This is especially crucial in Word 2013 and 2016, where the QAT buttons are bigger. If you display the QAT below the Ribbon, it does take up a little more vertical space, but it is also easier to reach with the mouse. To move it, right-click anywhere on the QAT, or click on the arrow at the right end, and choose Show Quick Access Toolbar Below the Ribbon.

Quick Access Toolbar above the Ribbon in Word 2007, Word 2010, and Word 2013

Adding buttons

Now you can start adding buttons. There are three ways to do this:

  1. From the QAT itself: When you click on the arrow at the end of the QAT, you get a menu of popular commands; you can click on any one to add it.

  1. From the Ribbon: You can right-click on most buttons on the Ribbon and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

  2. From the Customize the Quick Access Toolbar dialog: To access the dialog:

  •  Word 2007: Click Office Button | Word Options and choose the Customize tab.

  •  Word 2010 and above: Click File | Options and choose the Quick Access Toolbar tab.

  •  Any version: Click on the arrow at the right end of the QAT and choose More Commands…

Using the dialog

The screen shot below shows the Customize the Quick Access Toolbar dialog in Word 2010 (it looks similar in all versions). The screen shot shows it reduced to the smallest size that will display all the options, but you can drag the bottom right corner to expand it to show much more of the lists of available commands and QAT buttons.

Where to save customizations

One reason you may prefer to use the dialog instead of methods 1 or 2 is to change the customization context. Note in the top right corner the dropdown that says “For all documents (default).” As far as I can ascertain, this dropdown never provides more than two choices. The default choice is to save the customizations in the Normal template, where they are available to all documents. Alternatively, as shown in the screen show below, you can select the current document. If you want customizations to be available only to documents based on a specific template, then you must have that template open for editing; it will then be the second option.

Finding the needed command

Having decided where you want to save your customization, you need to find the desired button or macro in the Choose commands from list. By default, the list shows Popular Commands, but, as shown in the screen shot below, there are many other choices. If you haven’t been able to find the button you wanted on the Ribbon, you may want to start looking in the Commands Not in the Ribbon list, or you can go directly to All Commands, which is a very exhaustive list.

If you frequently deal with documents created in earlier versions (which open in Compatibility Mode), you may be looking for commands specifically for working with them. Those command groups are at the bottom of the list, below Background Removal Tab, the last item shown when you open the list.

Types of commands

Note that the commands listed are of several kinds:

  •  Those with no icon on the right will execute a command or (if the command listed ends with an ellipsis) open a dialog.

  •  Those with an arrow (Change List Level in the screen shot above) will open a menu.

  •  Those with a bar and an arrow (Bullets in the screen shot) will open a gallery.

  •  Those with an I-beam and down arrow (Font in the screen shot) will open a combo box, which has a dropdown menu, but you can also type into the box.

Sometimes there will be more than one listing with the same name; in the screen shot, Font… will open the Font dialog; Font with the bar and arrow will drop down the font menu. You can also get a clue about what the button will do by hovering over it; the ScreenTip will show where the command is located in the Ribbon.

Once you have located and selected the command you want to add to the QAT, click the Add>> button.

If you want to group the buttons by having some space between certain buttons and others, you can use the <Separator> item, which will add a short bar between the buttons on either side of it.

Order of buttons

By default, the new button will be added at the bottom of the list, that is, at the right end of the QAT. You can change its position by clicking the up arrow. Using the up and down arrows is the only way to change the order of the buttons (unlike in Word 2003 and earlier, where toolbar buttons can be moved by dragging), but you can save yourself some work if you insert the button where you want it in the first place. Select the command you want it to the right of, and the new button will be added below that command in the list.

Button icons

Many of the listed commands do not have icons. If you add one of those to the QAT, it will display the default icon, which is a green ball in Word 2007 and 2010, a shaded circle in Word 2013 and 2016. There is no way to change this through the UI; if you’re a programmer, or just adventurous, you can find instructions for changing the button faces in Greg Maxey’s article “Modify/Customize QAT Icons, Labels or add Supertip text.”

There is one slight exception to this restriction. Although the default icon for all macros is the same, when you add a macro to the QAT, the Modify… button becomes enabled for that button. As shown in the screen shot below, the choice of images is somewhat whimsical, but you may be able to find an icon that suits your purpose.

Removing buttons

As you have doubtless figured out, if you change your mind about a button on the QAT, select it in the list and click <<Remove.

Related articles

How to add a command or macro to a menu (Word 2003 and earlier)

How to add a command or macro to a toolbar (Word 2003 and earlier)

How to assign a keyboard shortcut to a command or macro (all versions)

This article copyright © 2016 by Suzanne S. Barnhill.