Saturday, June 20, 2009

Small Tips to tame MS Office

A number of weeks ago it became clear that my work-issued Dell D-610 laptop just wasn’t able to keep up with the onslaught of multi-tasking I was now throwing at it.

I had maxed out the RAM to 2GB, large/fast IDE drives were hard to find, and it was a single-core processor.

So boss was able to locate a loaner Dell D-630 laptop to tide me over the remaining six-month or so period until the next round of hardware refreshes hit our group (Latitude E6400’s).  The 2 GB RAM kit from the D-610 was compatible with that used by the D-630 so I replaced the stock 512MB stick with the 2GB kit. However the D-630 supports up to 4GB for system RAM so I’ve got a 4 GB RAM kit coming along with a 7400RPM SATA drive to boost the stock D-630’s dual-core muscle. My productivity has jumped which is a good thing considering how crazy the past two weeks have been.

Anyway…all that to say that moving my system over from the older laptop to the newer one meant many of my MS Office (2003) tweaks and configs were gone and forgotten.

So I’ve been on the hunt to tweak some MS Office behaviors.  Here are three of the cleverest I should have remembered.

  • Disable and Turn Off Microsoft Office Word 2003 Reading Layout - My Digital Life – Uhhhg! When I would open a MS Office file attachment out of Outlook it would open in the “Reading Layout” which was butt-ugly and useless.  Sure I could then click around and swap the view to the “page layout” mode but it was extra clicks.  Darn if I could get it swapped back to open in the “page layout” style of my old system.  This post has three level of tips.  The first one is in the usual options interface but may not “hold”.  The second one requires some Group-Policy editing..nice. But the last is the money one.  To the Registry!

…directly modify the system registry with the following value to get the same blocking reading layout effect. 


  • How to turn off the Office Clipboard (2000, XP, 2003) – Clipboard Extender blog – for some bizarre reason every time I would copy/paste things in Office 2003 on this system the clipboard sidebar would pop up and list all my copied items.  No matter how many times I told it not to display any more in the options it would continue to return. While some may find benefit in this, I’m not a multi-item copy/paster.  By that I mean I copy then paste what I want to move around and don’t need to maintain on ongoing collection of copied items to paste from.  When the sidebar appears it shifts the zoom level or location of my document throwing me mentally off.  It had to go.  The link had the standard solutions but a single comment on the post left by Meredith Sivick did the trick. Haven’t seen it since. I love a good registry hack:

This worked for me to Permantely turn off the clipboard in Microsoft Office for 2003 running Windows XP

By Bill Detwiler
Close all Office applications, including Outlook, before performing any of the following registry edits.
To Disable clipboard:
1. Click Start | Run
2. Enter “regedit” in the Open field
3. Click OK
In the Regedit window:
1. Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\[version] \Common\General
Where [version] corresponds to your Office version: 9.0 = Office 2000, 10.0 = Office XP, and 11.0 = Office 2003.
2. Locate the DWORD value AcbControl or create the value if it does not exist.
3. Set the AcbControl value to 1. (Set the value to 0 to enable the dialog box.)
4. Close the Registry Editor and restart an Office application.

  • How do I turn off the Getting Started pane (Word 2003)? - – Despite all my attempts to locate the setting to turn this blasted feature off, I had to hit the Web to find it in the option settings.  Darn it.  I hate it when something is right in front of me but I can’t remember the technical name for the “feature”.  In this case it is referred to as the "Startup Task Pane".


--Claus V.

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