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Microsoft Word for Android (and iOS) cheat sheet

Microsoft’s Word mobile app passed a milestone over the summer: the Android version has been downloaded more than one billion times, according to the Google Play Store. Apple doesn’t provide download figures on its App Store, but with more than 608,000 ratings, the iOS version of Word is clearly popular as well.

On either platform, the app lets you create and edit Word documents on your phone or tablet for free. Typing on a phone isn’t the most comfortable way to compose a long document, but the mobile app can be very handy for starting new docs or making quick edits to existing ones while you’re on the go.

The app has two requirements: First, you need to sign in with a Microsoft user account, which can be a free account (such as one for Outlook.com) or an Office 365 account, which you or your company pays a subscription fee for. Second, the app installs only on phones or tablets with screens that measure less than 10.1″ diagonally.

This guide walks you through the major functions of the Word app and shows you how to share your Word document with other people to collaborate on. We’ve focused on the Android phone interface here; if you have a very large phone or tablet your screen might look a little different but should work similarly. The iOS app also has similar features and functions; we’ll note where the steps for using it differ.

Editor’s note: At its 2019 Ignite conference in November, Microsoft announced a new Office mobile app that combines the functionality of its separate Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps. The all-in-one app has been unstable in our tests so far; until it’s out of beta, we recommend sticking with the current apps.

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How to Insert a Watermark in Microsoft Word (Or Remove One)

The humble Microsoft Word watermark says a lot about a document. The most frequently used “Draft” watermark tells everyone that this is an early copy. The “Confidential” mark alludes to something hush-hush.

A watermark is just a faint or washed-out text or a picture behind the text. It can be a branding or a warning.

That it can say a lot sitting behind the main content suggests its importance. It is so easy to insert watermarks in Word. Let’s learn how.

The screenshots below are from Microsoft Office 365.

Insert Watermark in Word

Word supplies four default watermarks like “Confidential”, “Urgent”, “ASAP”, and “Do Not Copy” in text form. If they are all you use, then it’s almost a single-click operation to insert them in your document.

1. Launch Microsoft Word. Select the Print Layout from the three icons at the bottom right of Word.

2. Go to the Ribbon > Design tab.

3. Click on Watermark in the Page Background group to expand the options under it.

Insert watermark in Word

4. Choose any of the default watermarks from the choices Word provides, but do make sure it is appropriate for the document.

5. Word places the faded watermark on the document just behind your text. Again, the watermark is only visible in the Print Layout view.

An inserted watermark in Word

How to Use a Custom Watermark

The default watermarks are there when speed and convenience matter. But there may be occasions when the limited choices on Word don’t work for you. You can use make your own watermark and use it with the document.

Custom watermarks are of two types:

  • Text watermark
  • Picture watermark

Follow the same steps as above but choose Custom Watermark under the dropdown menu.

Insert custom watermark in Word

How to Insert a Custom Text Watermark

Custom watermark ideas can include your organization’s logo, your name, a copyright symbol, or anything that’s relevant to the document.

Here’s how to create a text watermark.

The Printed Watermark Window in Word

  1. The Printed Watermark window opens.
  2. Choose the Text Watermark option. The fields are self-explanatory
  3. Type the text you want to use as a watermark into the Text box. Configure the options for language, font, size, color, and orientation. Select the Semi-transparent box if you want a lighter shade of the text, or de-select it if you want to go darker.
  4. Click Apply and OK when you’re done.

How to Insert a Picture Watermark

You can get really creative with picture watermarks because images used well can say a thousand words. For instance, with casual documents, you can use a funny image or the number of minutes it will take to read the page.

You can even make a pattern that repeats across the whole page. Set it up with these steps.

Use a Picture Watermark in Word

  1. In the Printed Watermark window, select the Picture Watermark option and then click on the Select Picture button.
  2. You can upload an image file from your desktop, search Bing for an image, or source it from your OneDrive folder on the cloud.
  3. Click on Insert if you upload an image from your computer. For the other two online options, just click on Apply to use the watermark.
  4. You can tweak the appearance of the watermark. The “Scale” is set to automatic by default, but you can use the dropdown to select a specific percentage.
  5. The Washout option displays a watermark the way it is supposed to be—faded into the page. You can disable this to bring out the actual image, but it can overpower the text on top of it.

Select and Customize Your Watermark

Just adding your own text or a picture isn’t the only way to customize your watermark. The basic ones are all pale gray. Word also allows you to click the appearance by changing its color, size, and position on the page manually.

But how do you select the watermark when it is in the background?

The watermark is part of the header in the document even though it appears in the middle of the page or repeats across the entire page. All you have to do is open the header by double clicking somewhere near the top of the page.

With the header section open, click the watermark to select it like any other object on the page. Move the cursor over the watermark until the cursor turns into a four-headed arrow.

Select and Customize Your Watermark

Then, you can customize it in four ways after selecting it:

  • Drag the watermark to any part of the page.
  • You can add different watermarks to the different sections in your document.
  • If it’s a text watermark, you can use the WordArt Tools tab to customize the text.
  • If it’s a picture watermark, you can use all the options in the Picture Format tab to adjust the image or apply effects.

Change one watermark and the customization will automatically reflect in all the pages of your document.

How to Remove a Watermark

There are two ways to remove a watermark.

  • Open the Header and Footer area as explained above. As the image or text watermark is now editable, you can select it and hit the Delete key.
  • Go to the Design tab > Click the Watermark button > Select the Remove Watermark option.

Just like moving or resizing a watermark, deleting one removes it from every page of your document.

A Few More Tips on Word Watermarks

There are a couple of more things you can do with watermarks to speed up your productivity in any documents that follow.

1. Save a watermark to the gallery and reuse. You can customize a watermark and select it. Then from the Watermark menu in the design tab, just select Save Selection to Watermark gallery. Give the watermark a name, and click OK.

Save Watermark Gallery

Try this out: On a blank Word page, insert your own text and customize its size and appearance. Select and save it to the watermark gallery.

Select it under General in the gallery of watermarks and apply it to any other document. 

2. Insert watermark in Word on just one page. Word automatically places a watermark on all pages of your document. If it’s an overkill, just apply the watermark to the first page of your document.

Place your cursor on the right page. Go to Design > Watermark > Right click the watermark you want >SelectInsert at Current Document Position. The watermark is displayed within a text box which you can then move, rotate, or resize.

Insert watermark at current document position

Use Watermarks for Both Work and Personal Use

A watermark can be just one of those little things that amp up the professional look of your document. But as we suggested above, don’t let that stop you from using it on personal documents.

It is one of those overlooked features in Microsoft Word

10 Hidden Features of Microsoft Word That’ll Make Your Life Easier

10 Hidden Features of Microsoft Word That’ll Make Your Life Easier

Microsoft Word wouldn’t be the tool it is without its productive features. Here are several features that can help you every day.
Read More

that make makes your life easier.

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New Microsoft Office App for iOS and Android Combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – Review Geek

New Microsoft Office App

If you’re among the millions of people who get Microsoft Office work done on a smartphone sometimes, you will soon be able to access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from the same app on your device instead of opening them separately.

In the interest of making mobile productivity more efficient when using Microsoft Office on a phone, the software suite has received an update that brings all of your Office documents together in one place. Along with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, the new Microsoft Office app will provide easy access to Sticky Notes for saving quick thoughts, along with various mobile-oriented capabilities such as using your camera to scan documents.

You can also get recent and recommended documents stored in the cloud on your device and search for documents across your organization if using a work account. By combining all of these features into the same mobile application, it should reduce the need to switch between apps, and Microsoft says it will save storage space on your phone compared to having multiple separate apps installed.

The “Actions Pane” is another noteworthy addition. It provides quick access to tasks you might typically encounter on a mobile device such as creating PDFs with your camera, signing PDFs with your finger, scanning QR codes to open files and links, transferring files from your phone to a computer, and sharing with other nearby mobile devices.

You can get these features by updating your Office mobile app to the public preview that launched today for Android and iOS. The app can be downloaded for free and you just have to sign in with a Microsoft Account. Microsoft notes that Apple’s TestFlight program for preview software limits the public preview to 10,000 users, so you may want to hop on that sooner rather than later if you’re interested in trying the software on your iOS phone.

Note that the new Office app is only available for phones, with support for tablets coming later. As for the existing mobile apps for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Microsoft says it will continue to support and invest in the separate apps for everyone who prefers using those instead of the new all-in-one app. The company encourages everyone to submit feedback for the new Office app by going to Settings > Help & Feedback.

Source: Microsoft

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Download Free Microsoft Word Templates

When you need to compose a document in Microsoft Word, starting with a template can be very helpful. Whether it’s a resume, report, proposal, plan, or another type of common document, templates give you a jumpstart with built-in formatting.

We’ve covered a lot of great free Microsoft Word templates before. But if you need a unique document type or simply want more choices, you might want to search for yourself. Here are six websites you can visit that offer the best selections when you want to download a Microsoft Word template for free.

Microsoft Office Online Word templates

When it comes to templates for Microsoft Word, what better place could there be to start than with Microsoft Office Online? The advantage of using this resource is that your templates come directly from Microsoft.

The site organizes their templates nicely so that you can search by keyword or browse by category, event, occasion, or application. And you’ll find hundreds of free templates for Word. For instance, resumes and cover letters, flyers and brochures, calendars and cards, and so many more.

When you see a template you want, select it to view a brief description. Click the Download button to use it on your computer or click Edit in Browser to open the template in Microsoft Word Online.

Template.net Word templates

Another great spot for Word template downloads is Template.net. Since the site offers both free and paid templates, it can be tough to use the search box because you’ll see a mixture. It’s best to use the Templates button at the top and then pick a category from the Free Templates.

Template.net has free Word templates for everything from agreements to invoices to planners to vouchers. Once you pick a category, you’ll see an organized grid of results. Each template has icons for the applications that are compatible. So just look for that Microsoft Word logo which isn’t a problem as there are many.

You’ll have to sign up for a free account in order to download the templates. Once you do, pick a template, click Free Download and continue through the prompts to obtain the template.

Vertex42 Word templates

A favorite for Microsoft Office templates is Vertex42. While the site concentrates mostly on templates for Excel, you’ll find a good selection for Word as well. At the top, you’ll see a navigation button for Word Templates. Just click that and you’re on your way to their full list.

You can find letters, resumes, flyers, and agendas or get specific with basketball rosters, exercise logs, and camping checklists. And if you select a template to view or download, you’ll see related templates at the bottom which is super helpful.

When you see a template you want to download, just select it to see a full description that includes the compatible applications and versions. Choose your version of Word, click the Download button, and then follow the prompts to obtain your template.

WordTemplates.org Word templates

The WordTemplates.org website is all about its name. You can find tons of Word templates for your business or home, easily and all for free.

When you land on the site, you’ll see a simple way to navigate common template categories like business, brochure, certificate, flyer, and contract. You can also check out the recent and popular options along with searching for something specific.

Each template gives you a helpful description and image. When you find a template you want, select it and click the Download Now button. That’s it! You don’t have to sign up for an account or sift through paid templates. WordTemplates.org takes care of your Word template needs for free.

Hloom Word templates

Hloom is a cool website that offers templates for all Microsoft Office applications, not just Word. So this is a handy one to bookmark if you need templates for Excel or PowerPoint down the road.

At the top, you’ll see Free Templates and can pick to see their collections or a specific template for things like invoices, certificates, invitations, or flyers. If you check out the Template Collections section, you’ll see the templates organized into categories from agreements to surveys.

When you see a template you like, select it for its description, samples, and more information about that type of document, which is helpful. Next to the filename, you can confirm it’s for Word with the DOCX extension in the name. Click the Download button and you’re set.

Stock Layouts Word templates

Stock Layouts is one more site you must check out for Microsoft Word templates. You’ll find many attractive and functional options for your project.

The site has both free and paid templates, so if you just want only the free options, click the Templates button at the top and choose Free Templates. Then, under Free Graphic Design Templates, click the dots to move through the categories.

When you find a template you like, select it and check the file formats for Microsoft Word because the site also provides templates for applications like Illustrator and Apple Pages. Sign in or sign up for a free account and then hit the Free Download button.

Some paid templates are priced individually, or you can subscribe to a plan. But there are plenty of templates available for free to get you started.

Happy Template Searching!

These six websites are wonderful resources for free Word template you can download. If you’re just beginning your search, check each one to find the exact template you want. You’ll end up having a favorite in this bunch, but if you bookmark them all, you won’t need to scramble at the last minute when searching for a Word template.

If you’re interested in some of our collections of Word templates, check out these meeting agenda templates

15 Free Meeting Agenda Templates for Microsoft Word

15 Free Meeting Agenda Templates for Microsoft Word

These free meeting agenda templates for Microsoft Word can get you off to a great start for any type of meeting.
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or these templates for business letters

15 Business Letter Templates for Microsoft Word to Save You Time

15 Business Letter Templates for Microsoft Word to Save You Time

Templates are time savers. Here we compiled 15 business letter templates, from letters of intent, via Thank You notes, to references. These templates will hep you communicate with confidence.
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How to Create a Brochure in Microsoft Word

word logo

Brochures are a handy marketing tool used by nearly every company in existence. Creating them takes only a few minutes, and you can do it directly in Word using a template or from scratch. Here’s how.

Create a Brochure Using Templates

The easiest way to create a brochure is by using one of the many available templates that Word has to offer.

RELATED: How to Make Vertical Tear-Off Pages in Microsoft Word

To get started with a template, open a new document, type “Brochure” in the template search box, then press the “Enter” key. Word’s large library of brochure templates will appear. Select one that you like.

Select brochure template in Word

Once selected, a banner that contains information about the template will appear. Read through the information and then select the “Create” button.

Create template button

Now all you need to do is insert the relevant text and images in the template placeholders and then start distributing the brochure.

If you couldn’t find a template that was just right for you, you can just make one from scratch.

Create a Brochure from Scratch

With your new blank document open, head over to the “Layout” tab. Here, select the “Orientation” option found in the “Page Setup” section. From the drop-down menu that appears, select “Landscape,” which is the necessary orientation for tri-folds.

Change orientation of document to landscape

Next, let’s give ourselves a little more room to work with by reducing the page margins. To do this, head back over to the “Page Setup” group of the “Layout” tab and select the “Margins” button.

Margins option in page setup

For brochures, it’s generally a good idea to keep the page margins at 0.5” or less. Selecting the “Narrow” option from the drop-down menu is the quick solution. If you want to decrease the margins even more, you can select “Custom Margins” and input your ideal size.

Decrease margin

Now it’s time to add columns to our brochure to break the page up in different sections. Back in the “Page Setup” group of the “Layout” tab, select the “Columns” button.

Columns option

A drop-down menu will appear. Here, select the column structure from the list that you’d like to use or explore more options by choosing the “More Columns” option.

Select column type

With the layout ready, all that’s left to do is insert your images (by selecting an option from the “Illustrations” group and choosing the graphic) and add text. Once finished, your brochures will be ready for distribution.

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How to Troubleshoot Printing Issues in Microsoft Word

The Microsoft Word logo.

There’s nothing more frustrating than working endless hours on a document only to be greeted with an error message when it’s time to print. Here are a few suggestions to get Word to work with your printer again.

Basic Checks

First, it’s a good idea to do some basic hardware checks to ensure everything is hooked up as it should be.

Here are a few things to check before we look at Word:

  • Make sure the USB cable that connects your PC to your printer is hooked up properly. If your printer is wireless, make sure it’s turned on.
  • Double-check the internet connection (wired or wireless).
  • Make sure the printer is plugged in and turned on.
  • See if there’s a paper jam.
  • Ensure your printer is compatible with your computer. Search Google and the printer manufacturer’s website for more information.

These might seem like obvious things to check, but they’re also easy to forget. It’s always best to try the basics first and avoid wasting time unnecessarily.

A Quick Solution

This tip won’t fix your printing issues, but it will allow you to print from your computer in a pinch. If you don’t have time to figure out what’s going on with Word, but really need to print a document, convert the file to a PDF. Then, you can print it from a different application.

To convert a Word document to a PDF, open the document you want to convert, click “File,” and then click “Save As” in the pane on the left.

Click "Save As."

You see a box that shows you the type of file the document is; click the arrow next to it. In the drop-down menu, click “PDF,” and then click “Save.”

Click the arrow to open the drop-down menu, click "PDF," and then click "Save."

Now, open the file in another program (like Acrobat) and print it.

Microsoft’s Printing Troubleshooter for Windows

Microsoft has a printing troubleshooter you can download. To get it, click the link in “Step 5” on the Microsoft support page.

Open the tool. On the homepage, you see basic information about what the software does; click “Next.”

Click "Next."

The diagnosis runs. If the troubleshooter doesn’t find anything, Microsoft will suggest you run the tool as an Administrator—go ahead and do so.

Click "Try Troubleshooting as an Administrator."

A message appears that asks you to choose the printer with which you’re having issues. Select it, and then click “Next.”

Select your printer from the list, and then click "Next."

The program runs the diagnosis and makes suggestions as it goes. When the troubleshooter is finished, try to print your Word document again.

Install the Latest Driver

Outdated drivers are often the cause of printing problems, so make sure yours is up to date. There are two ways you can do this. First, check the “Drivers” section on your printer manufacturer’s website for any driver updates.

RELATED: How to Manage a Printer in Windows 10

The second way is to update your PC because Windows might find an updated driver for your printer. To check for an update, click the Start button on your Windows PC, and then click the gear icon to open the “Settings” menu.

Click the Start button, and then click the gear icon to open "Settings."

In the “Settings” window, click the last option on the list, “Update & Security.”

Click "Update & Security."

Click “Windows Update.”

Click "Windows Update."

If you’re on a Mac, click the Apple icon in the top-left corner, and then click “Software Update.”

When the update is complete, try to print your Word document again.

Remove and Reinstall a Printer in Windows

Another solution is to remove and reinstall your printer, as this will include all the latest updates.

RELATED: How to Install the Same Printer Twice (With Different Settings) on Windows

To remove your printer, click the Start button on your Windows PC, and then click the gear icon to open the “Settings” menu.

Click the Start button, and then click the gear icon.

Click “Devices.”

Click "Devices."

Next, click “Printers & Scanners.”

Click "Printers & Scanners."

Select the printer you want to remove from the list, and then click “Remove Device.”

Click "Remove Device."

Now, to reinstall the printer, click “Add a Printer or Scanner” at the top of the menu.

Click "Add a Printer or Scanner."

Select your printer from the list, and then click “Install.”

When the installation is complete, try to print your Word document.

Remove and Reinstall a Printer in MacOS

On a Mac, the process to remove and reinstall a printer is a bit different.

To get started, click the Apple icon in the top-left corner, and then select “System Preferences.”

Click "System Preferences."

Next, click “Printers & Scanners.”

Click "Printers & Scanners."

Finally, select the printer you want to remove, and then click the minus sign (-) at the bottom of the screen to delete it.

Click the minus sign.

To reinstall the printer, click the plus sign (+). Select your printer from the list that appears, and then click “Add.”

After you reinstall your printer, try again to print your Word document.

Low System Resources

Low system resources can definitely cause issues when you try to print a document.

To see if this is the problem in Windows, press the Windows key, and then type “resource monitor.” The Resource Monitor app appears in the results; press “Enter” to select it.

Press enter to open Resource Monitor.

On a Mac, this app is called “Activity Monitor.” To find it, press Command+Spacebar, and then type “Activity Monitor” in the Spotlight search bar.

After it opens, you can investigate if low system resources are causing your printing issues. The simplest way to find out is to restart your computer, and then try to print your Word document again.

These are just a few ways you can diagnose and fix printing issues in Word. However, there could be other causes we didn’t cover.

If you’ve experienced a printing issue with Word and resolved it, please share your tips in the comment section—it might help others who are dealing with the same problem.

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Word for Office 365 cheat sheet: Ribbon quick reference

This download accompanies our Word for Office 365 cheat sheet. See that article for detailed information on how to get the most out of Word for Office 365 in Windows.

For the most part, the Ribbon interface in Word for Office 365 is intuitive to use. It’s divided into a series of tabs that group related commands together. Since it’s always present at the top of your screen, the Ribbon puts a wealth of commands in easy reach at all times.

But with so many tabs and so many commands, it’s not always obvious where to go to perform a given action. To help, we’ve compiled a guide that shows each Ribbon tab, explains what it’s for and highlights its most commonly used commands. And for those of you who don’t like to take your hands from the keys to point and click, we’ve included keyboard shortcuts for all the actions.

For instance, if you want to insert an image from the web in your document, you’d go to the Insert tab and click the Online Pictures icon in the Illustrations group, or press Alt-N and then F. To set up a page with two columns, you’d go to the Layout tab, click the Columns button in the Page Setup group (or press Alt-P, J) and select the number of columns.

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Word for Office 365 cheat sheet

Word has always been the workhorse app of the Microsoft Office suite. Nearly everyone who uses Office ends up using Word at some point, whether it be for writing memos, typing up agendas, creating reports, crafting business correspondence or any of a thousand other uses.

Microsoft sells Office under two models: Individuals and businesses can pay for the software license up front and own it forever (what the company calls the “perpetual” version of the suite), or they can purchase an Office 365 subscription, which means they have access to the software for only as long as they keep paying the subscription fee.

When you purchase a perpetual version of the suite — say, Office 2016 or Office 2019 — its applications will never get new features, whereas Office 365 apps are continually updated with new features. For more details, see “What are the differences between Microsoft Office 2019 and Office 365?

This cheat sheet gets you up to speed on the features that have been introduced in Office 365’s Word for Windows desktop client since 2015. We’ll periodically update this story as new features roll out. (If you’re using the perpetual-license Word 2016 or 2019, see our separate Word 2016 and 2019 cheat sheet.)

Share this story: IT pros, we hope you’ll pass this guide on to your users to help them learn to get the most from Word for Office 365.

Use the Ribbon

The Ribbon interface is alive and well in the current version of Word. Since it has been included in Office applications since Office 2007, you’re probably familiar with how it works, but if you need a refresher, see our Word 2010 cheat sheet.

In September 2018, Microsoft overhauled the way the Ribbon looks. It’s now flatter-looking, cleaner and less cluttered, and has high-contrast colors, which makes the icons and text on the Ribbon easier to see. The blue bar at the top has been reduced as well, with the tab names now appearing on a gray background. But it still works in the same way, and you’ll find most of the commands in the same locations as in earlier versions.

ofc365 word ribbon home oct2019 IDG

Word’s Ribbon is now flatter looking, with more contrast than in the past, but still works the same way. (Click image to enlarge it.)

One minor change to the Ribbon layout is that there’s now a Help tab to the right of the View tab. And there are slight variations in the Ribbon’s appearance between editions of Word in Office 365. For instance, the Search box is located to the right of the Ribbon tabs in consumer editions but above the Ribbon tabs in enterprise editions.

To find out which commands live on which tabs on the Ribbon, download our Word for Office 365 Ribbon quick reference. Also note that you can use the search box on or above the Ribbon to find commands.

Just as in earlier versions of Word, to make the commands underneath the tabs on the Ribbon go away, press Ctrl-F1. (Note that the Ribbon tabs — File, Home, Insert and so on — stay visible.) To make the commands appear again, press Ctrl-F1.

You’ve got other options for displaying the Ribbon as well. To get to them, click the “Ribbon display options” icon at the top right of the screen, just to the left of the icons for minimizing and maximizing Word. A drop-down menu appears with these three options:

  • Auto-hide Ribbon: This hides the entire Ribbon, both the tabs and commands underneath them. To show the Ribbon again, click at the top of Word.
  • Show Tabs: This shows the tabs but hides the commands underneath them. It’s the same as pressing Ctrl-F1. To display the commands underneath the tabs when they’re hidden, press Ctrl-F1, click a tab, or click the Ribbon display icon and select “Show Tabs and Commands.”
  • Show Tabs and Commands: Selecting this shows both the tabs and commands.

And if for some reason that blue on the title bar is too much color for you, you can turn it white, dark gray or black. To do it, select File > Options > General. In the “Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office” section, click the down arrow next to Office Theme and select Dark Gray, Black, or White from the drop-down menu. To make the title bar blue again, choose the Colorful option from the drop-down list. Just above the Office Theme menu is an Office Background drop-down menu — here you can choose to display a pattern such as a circuit board or circles and stripes in the title bar.

There’s a useful feature in what Microsoft calls the backstage area that appears when you click File on the Ribbon: If you click Open, Save a Copy, or Save As from the menu on the left, you can see the cloud-based services you’ve connected to your Office account, such as SharePoint and OneDrive. Each location now displays its associated email address underneath it. This is quite helpful if you use a cloud service with more than one account, such as if you have one OneDrive account for personal use and another one for business. You’ll be able to see at a glance which is which.

ofc365 word save copy oct2019 IDG

Select “Add a Place” on the left to add a new cloud storage service for Word. (Click image to enlarge it.)

In the works: A simplified Ribbon

Microsoft is also working on a simplified version of the Ribbon for all Office applications. Like the existing Ribbon, it will have tabs across the top, and each tab will have commands on it. But it’s more streamlined and uses less space than the existing Ribbon.

For now, only Outlook for Windows uses the simplified Ribbon in Office 365. However, some users can get a preview of what it will look like in Word by going to the online version of Word. Use the slider next to Simplified Ribbon at the top right of the screen to toggle the simplified Ribbon on and off. If you don’t see the slider at the top of the screen, go to the Ribbon’s View tab and check the box next to Simplified Ribbon. To revert to the regular Ribbon, uncheck the box.

word online simplified ribbon oct2019 IDG

A cleaner, simpler Ribbon will be available in Word at some point, but if you want to try it now, head to the online version of Word, pictured here. (Click image to enlarge it.)

In the simplified Ribbon, all the commands are still there for each tab, but only the most commonly used are visible. Click the three-dot icon at the far right end of the Ribbon to show the rest of the commands in a drop-down menu.

In the Outlook desktop client, you can toggle between the streamlined and traditional Ribbon by clicking a small caret icon at the right edge of the Ribbon. We assume this will work the same way in Word, but at this point we have no details. We’ll update this section when the simplified Ribbon rolls out to Word for Windows.

Collaborate in real time

The biggest feature that’s been introduced in Word for Office 365 subscribers since 2015 is real-time collaboration. It lets people work on documents together from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, a feature that Google Docs has long had. Microsoft calls this “co-authoring.”

There are only three requirements for collaboration in Word for Office 365: You must be logged into your Microsoft or Office 365 account; the document must be stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Online; and AutoSave must be turned on.

To collaborate on a document, first open it, then click the Share icon in the upper-right part of the screen. If you haven’t yet saved your file in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Online, you’ll be prompted to do so. What happens next depends on whether your document is stored in your own OneDrive or with OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online.

If your files are stored in your personal OneDrive, you’ll share documents via the Share pane. But if your files are stored in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online, you’ll use a newer interface that Microsoft rolled out to enterprise Office 365 users in May 2017. A Microsoft representative told us that the company intends to roll out the newer interface to consumers with an Office 365 subscription at some point, but it hasn’t announced timing yet. So we’ll give instructions for both interfaces below.

If your document is stored in your personal OneDrive: After you’ve saved the document to OneDrive and clicked the Share button, the Share pane will open on the right-hand side of the screen — this is command central for collaboration. At the top of the pane, type in the email addresses of the people with whom you want to collaborate on the document, separated by commas. As you type, Word looks through your address book and displays the matches it finds; click the person you want to invite. If you’re on a corporate network, you can click the address book on the right to search through your corporate email address book. If a person isn’t in your address book, just type in their complete email address.

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Inviting people to collaborate on a document via the Share pane. (Click image to enlarge it.)

After you enter the addresses, select either “Can edit” or “Can view” in the drop-down to allow collaborators full editing or read-only privileges. (If you want to assign different rights to different users, you can send two separate emails, or you can change any collaborator’s permissions later by right-clicking their name in the Share pane.) Type a message in the text box if you want. When you’re done, click Share. An email gets sent out to everyone with whom you’ve shared the file, showing an “Open” button that they can click to open the document.

There’s another way to share a file stored in a personal OneDrive for collaboration: At the bottom of the Share pane, click “Get a sharing link,” and from the screen that appears, choose “Create an edit link” if you want to create a link to the file that will allow people to edit the file, or “Create a view-only link” if you want to create a link that will allow them to view the file only. Then copy the link, write an email using any email program, paste in the link, and send the email.

If you want to instead send the file but don’t want to let people collaborate on it, at the bottom of the Share pane click “Send as attachment.” You can then send the file either in Word format or else as a PDF. When you do this, it won’t reflect any changes you make to it after you send the file.

If your document is stored in SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business: Clicking the Share button pops up a Send Link window. Here you can send an email with a link where others can access the document. 

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Sharing a spreadsheet via the Send Link pane.

By default, only the people whose email addresses you enter will be able to edit the document. If you like, you can click “People you specify can edit” to call up a “Link settings” screen, where you can expand access to anyone with the link, people in your organization with the link, or anyone who already has access to the file.

On this screen you can also uncheck the “Allow editing” box to set any of those permissions to read only. If you do that, you can optionally block people from downloading the file by toggling the “Block download” slider on. Finally, if you choose the “Anyone with the link” option, you can set an expiration date after which they won’t be able to access the file. When you’ve made your selections, click Apply.

excel office365 enterprise link settings IDG

Enterprise users can fine-tune access and editing permissions for their shared spreadsheet here.

Back in the main Send Link window, enter the recipients’ email addresses (as you type, Word will suggest people from your address book whom you can select), optionally type in a message, and click Send. An email is sent to all the recipients with a link they can click to open the document. Note that depending on how your IT department has set up permissions for users, you may not be able to send the invitation to people outside your organization.

(If you’d rather send recipients a copy of the workbook as an Excel file or a PDF, and thus not allow real-time collaboration, click Send a Copy at the bottom of the Send Link screen.)

To begin collaborating: When your recipients receive the email from you, they click a button or link to open the document, which opens in Word Online in a web browser rather than in the Word desktop client. Depending on a variety of factors, including whether recipients are signed into an Office 365 account, whether the file being shared is stored in a personal OneDrive or in OneDrive for Business/SharePoint, and whether the sender and recipient are from the same organization, recipients may or may not be able to start editing the document in their browser right away. Some users will have to click an Edit in Browser button first, and some will be able to choose between editing the doc in the browser or editing it in their desktop Word app.

The web version isn’t as fully featured as the client version — for instance, there aren’t as many formatting options and you can’t insert shapes, take screenshots, use mail merge, or use several other features. But for basic editing, it works fine.

When any collaborators open the document, you’ll see a colored cursor bar for each person that indicates their presence in the document. Each person gets their own unique color. Hover your cursor over anybody else’s cursor bar to see their name. Once they begin editing, you can see what each collaborator does as they do it, including deleting, editing and adding text. They see what you do as well.

ofc365 word collaboration oct2019 IDG

In Word for Office 365 you can see other collaborators’ edits in real time, with a different colored cursor for each collaborator. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Collaboration includes the ability to make comments at specific places in a document without actually changing the document’s contents. To do it, place your cursor in the document where you want the comment to appear (or select a word or phrase), click the Comments button in the upper right of the screen, and select New Comment. A new comment box appears in the right margin; type in your comment there. If you want to draw a colleague’s attention to a comment, @ mention them in the comment, they’ll receive an email notification with a link to the document.

Everyone collaborating can see all comments in the right margin. To reply to a comment, hover over it, click the Reply button, and type your response. There’s also a Resolve button that grays out the comment.

ofc365 word comment oct2019 IDG

To reply to a comment, hover over it, click the Reply button, and type your reply. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Be aware that how well real-time collaboration works depends on the strength of your internet connection. On slow or flaky connections, you won’t immediately see edits that other people make and they won’t see yours immediately — there will be a lag. So it’s always best, when possible, to have the strongest connection possible when collaborating.

If your document is stored in your personal OneDrive, the Share pane shows a list of all people currently collaborating on the workbook or who have been given access to it. If you don’t see the Share pane, click the Share button at the top of the screen to open it.

Double-click any name in the pane, and a screen appears that lets you communicate with them as you work. Email is always available, although that’s not particularly useful for simultaneous collaboration, since back-and-forth may take a while. Instant messaging and making voice calls using VoIP are available, but only via Skype and only if both of you are signed into Skype while you’re working on the document. Click the three-dot icon to the right of their email address, and you’ll be able to add the person to your address book, schedule a meeting with them, and add them to your favorites.

ofc365 word other sharing oct2019 IDG

Click the icon of someone working with you on a document to see other ways you can contact them. (Click image to enlarge it.)

If the Share pane distracts you, click the X on its upper right and it goes away. To make it appear again, click the Share button at the top of the screen.

As noted previously, if your workbook is stored in SharePoint or OneDrive for Business, you won’t have a Share pane. But you can still see who has access to the file by clicking the Share button. In the Send Link screen that opens, click the three-dot icon in the upper right and select Manage Access to see a list of people who can access the file. Here you can change edit/view permissions, revoke someone’s access, or remove the sharing link altogether.

Search to get tasks done quickly

A very useful addition to Word 2016 was called Tell Me — basically, an enhanced search feature for finding commands in Word. Now renamed simply Search, it’s extremely helpful when you want to do a task that you haven’t done before or have forgotten how to do.

To use it, click in the Search box — for some Office 365 subscribers, it’s located on the Ribbon to the right of all the tab headers; for others, it’s above the Ribbon in the blue title area. (Keyboard fans can instead press Alt-Q to go to the Search box.) Type in a task, and you’ll get a list of possible matches. Click the task you want to get instructions on how to do it.

For example, I typed “address an envelope” and chose the “Envelope” result, and the screen you use for addressing envelopes appeared. When I typed in the more general query “write an essay,” it popped up a link to Word’s Researcher feature that lets you do research from right within Word, add sources from the research you find, and then cite the sources in the document properly. If you type in a query and hover your mouse over a result instead of clicking it, you’ll see a screen describing what you can do if you click the results.

ofc365 word search bar oct2019 IDG

The Search box gives advice on addressing an envelope (or any other task). (Click image to enlarge it.)

It’s a big time-saver, because you don’t have to hunt through the Ribbon to find the command you want. And it remembers the features you’ve previously selected in the box, so when you click in it, you first see a list of previous tasks you’ve searched for. That way, tasks that you frequently perform are always within easy reach.

Search is gaining more capabilities, too. Some users of enterprise and education editions of Office 365 are now able to use the Search box to find people in their organization, SharePoint resources, and other personalized results from within Word. (These features are being rolled out in stages, so you might not have them yet.)

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How to Troubleshoot Word Startup Problems

The Microsoft Word logo.

Microsoft Office is constantly working to improve its software. Still, there might be times when Word just refuses to start. Here are a few ways you can get Word up and running again.

Update Microsoft Office

It’s always a good idea to keep your software up to date as companies constantly issue fixes for bugs and vulnerabilities that hinder the performance of the application.

Since Office 2013, Microsoft issues any updates to its Office applications automatically unless you told it to do otherwise. If that’s the case, and you’re experiencing startup issues with Word, you might want to update it to the latest version and see if that fixes the problem.

The good news is you can do this from any of your Office apps. So, if Word won’t start, you can update through Excel, PowerPoint, or any other Office programs you happen to have.

To update, open your Office app, click the “File” tab, and then click “Account” at the bottom of the left panel.

Click "Account."

Under the “Product Information” section, click “Update Options” next to “Office Updates.” In the drop-down menu, select “Update Now.”

Office checks for and applies any updates. After the update completes, you see a success message.

The "You're Up to Date" message confirming Microsoft Office successfully updated its software.

Now, try to open Word. If you still have issues, then there’s something else going on. Let’s try some other steps.

Repair Office from the Control Panel on Windows

Before you delete registry keys or the global template file, see if the Windows Repair tool will do the trick.

Right-click the Windows icon in the taskbar, and then select “Apps and Features” from the menu that appears.

Click "Apps and Features."

The “Settings” window pops up. Scroll through the list and select your Office app, and then click “Modify.”

Click "Modify."

The next message you see differs depending on which version of Office you have. In the click-to-run version (like Office 365), select “Online Repair,” and then “Repair.” If you run an MSI-based copy (you used installer software to install it on your computer) of Office, select “Repair,” and then “Continue.”

After the repair finishes, restart your computer, and then try to launch Word. If this didn’t fix the problem, it’s time to dig a little deeper.

Use the /a Switch on Windows

When you use the /a switch to start Word, it launches it in its original state. So, it prevents add-ins and global templates, like Normal.dot, from loading automatically.

If you successfully launch Word with this method, it gives you a great starting point to troubleshoot because it’s likely an add-in or template is causing the problem.

You can also launch Word in Safe Mode if you type /safe instead of /a in the step below. This also launches Word without add-ins, templates, and other customizations.

RELATED: How (and Why) to Start Microsoft Word from the Command Prompt

To try this method, press the Windows key, type “Run,” and then press “Enter.” The “Run” dialog appears. Here, type winword /a, and then click “OK.”

Type "winword /a" in the "Run" dialog.

If Word successfully launches, the issue is in the Office startup folder or the registry data key.

Reset User Options and Registry Settings in Word on Windows

Abnormal behavior is often caused by formatting, options, and/or custom settings in Word. If you use Registry Editor to modify the registry, you can reset these.

Standard Warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool; if you misuse it, it can render your system unstable or inoperable. This is a pretty simple tutorial, though, and you shouldn’t have any problems if you follow the instructions.

However, if you’ve never worked with Registry Editor before, you might want to read about it before you get started. Additionally, consider backing up the Registry (and your computer) before you make any changes.

First, close all Office applications. Next, press Windows+R to open the “Run” window. Here, type Regedt32.exe and click “OK.”

Type "Regedt32.exe" in the "Run" window.

The Registry Editor opens. Navigate to the location of the key you want to delete; it appears in the following file path:


Note that “16.0” in the file path is probably different, depending on which version of Office you have. If you use Office 2013, look for “15.0.” Microsoft provides a comprehensive list of key locations if you need further help.

Next, select the key you want to delete, and then click Edit > Delete.

Click "Edit," and then click "Delete."

Click “Yes” in the dialog that appears to delete the key.

You’ll be prompted to go through the setup process the next time you launch Word.

Restore Word to Factory Settings on Mac

You can also perform a factory reset for Word on a Mac. To do so, close all Office applications, and then open “Finder.” Press Shift+Command+G to open the “Go to the Folder” search box.

Type the following:

~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/User Content/Templates

Type "~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/User Content/Templates" in the "Go to the Folder" pane.

Click “Go.” Here, you’ll see the Normal.dotm file; move it to your desktop.

The Normal.dotm file on a Mac.

Next, open the “Go to the Folder” search box again (Shift+Command+G). This time, go to the following file path:


Type "~/Library/Preferences" in the "Go to the Folder" pane.

Click “Go.” Find the com.microsoft.Word.plist and com.microsoft.Office.plist files and move them to your desktop. Restart Word.

Office automatically rebuilds these files, so don’t worry.

Replace the Normal.dot Global Template File on Windows

Your global template file contains macros, AutoText entries, and formatting settings, which often prevent Word from starting properly. If you replace this file, it will remove any issues you might be encountering due to damage to the previous file. This comes with a caveat, though: you’ll have to go back through and reconfigure all your custom settings.

To replace the Normal.dot (or Normal.dotm global template file), hit the Windows key. Type “cmd” in the Windows search box, and then press “Enter” to open the Command Prompt.

In Command Prompt, type the following command:

Ren %userprofile%AppDataRoamingMicrosoftTemplatesOldNormal.dotm Normal.dotm

The "Ren %userprofile%AppDataRoamingMicrosoftTemplatesOldNormal.dotm Normal.dotm" command in the "Command Prompt" window.

Press “Enter.” Once finished, you can safely exit the Command Prompt.

When you launch Word, you’ll be prompted to go through the setup process.

These are just a few ways to diagnose and fix Word startup issues. However, there could be other causes that aren’t covered here.

If you’ve experienced an issue with Word and found a way to resolve it, please share your tip in the comment section—it might help others who are dealing with the same problem.

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Don’t Pay for Microsoft Word! 4 Reasons to Use Office Online Instead

Microsoft Office is the world’s de facto productivity suite, but did you know that you don’t really need to pay for Microsoft Word and other apps? Thanks to Microsoft Office Online, you can access the most popular Office apps for free.

For most people, these stripped-down versions of Office work just fine. Let’s look at some of the reasons to use Word Online, Excel Online, and the other free offerings.

1. Office Online Is Free

The biggest benefit of Office Online is that you can use it without paying. This is the easiest way to get Microsoft Word for free and legally.

Traditionally, you had to pay upfront for a standalone copy of the latest version of Office (like Office 2013 or Office 2019), which could cost a hundred dollars or more. Nowadays, Microsoft wants you to subscribe to Office 365. This is more affordable at $10 or so per month, but the subscription still adds up over time.

With Office Online, you gain access to online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and also Outlook.com at no cost. Lesser-known apps like Flow, Forms, and Sway are included in the list of Office Online offerings too. There are no online versions for Access and Publisher though.

To try it, sign in to your Microsoft account on Office.com, then visit your Office apps page. Here you’ll see everything that’s available and can jump to any app you like.

Office Online Apps

2. Access Documents Anywhere With Cloud Storage

Having your files saved only to one computer can cause problems when you need them on another device. While the option of saving to the cloud is available in modern desktop versions of Office today, it’s the default and easy to use in Office Online.

Everyone gets 5GB of free storage in OneDrive with their Microsoft Account, which is plenty for storing personal documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. When you work in Office Online, all changes save to your OneDrive account as you go. This means you won’t lose hours of progress if something crashes and you haven’t manually saved in a while.

Word Online Save As Prompt

With the OneDrive app on your phone, you can easily pull up your documents anywhere. And if you need to edit them in a pinch, you can simply sign in to Office Online on any computer.

Even better, Office Online is device-agnostic. You can access it on any device with a web browser, including Linux and Mac machines. Free Office Android and iOS apps for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint provide similar functionality on mobile.

3. Easy Sharing and Collaboration

A lot of people commonly share desktop Office documents via email. While this is fine in moderation, it becomes cumbersome to constantly send a document back and forth. In Office Online, you can easily click Share on a file to send a link to anyone. As long as they have a Microsoft account, they can edit it if you give them permission to do so.

Office Online Share Document

Office Online also makes collaborating on documents a cinch. Whether you want to edit a large paper together or both work in a spreadsheet, doing so only requires both parties to have the document open. While a similar function is available in desktop Office with OneDrive, it’s not quite as simple to set up.

4. Office Online Offers a Simplified Workflow

The Online versions of these apps aren’t as full-featured as their desktop counterparts. They don’t include the most powerful tools, such as Word’s advanced formatting and Excel’s detailed graphs or Macros.

This makes Office Online unsuitable for professional use, but they’re still more than capable for personal use.

However, Office Online lacking power user features can actually be a benefit for some people. You might feel overwhelmed by the number of tools on the Ribbon and options to tweak in desktop Office. If that’s you, perhaps you’ll love the slimmed-down approach of Office Online.

If you have an old computer with a slow HDD and limited RAM, Office Online may work faster for you. While the desktop Office apps are fairly bulky, the web app doesn’t put such a strain on your system.

Office Online also provides organizational benefits. Because it keeps all your files in OneDrive, they won’t take up storage space on your machine.

Storing all Office files in OneDrive also means they aren’t mixed in with everything else on your system. Each app shows recently edited and pinned files of their type (spreadsheets, presentations, etc.) so you can open them from there instead of hunting around a bunch of folders.

Office Online Pinned Documents and Templates

Finally, using Office Online lets you save documents in the standard Office file formats, such as DOCX and XLSX. Because so many people use Office, this is important for computability with others. Many Microsoft Office alternatives

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don’t work perfectly with these formats, which scores another point for Office Online.

When Microsoft Office Online Isn’t Ideal

We’ve looked at several reasons why Office Online is a great service you should take advantage of, particularly compared to desktop Office. However, it’s of course not perfect. There are some situations where you’re better off with another solution.

One of the biggest limitations of Office Online is its limited app selection. If you require anything beyond the basics, you’ll need the full version of Office. Apps like Access, Visio, and Project don’t have free web versions.

After trying the Office Online apps, you may also find that they lack a feature you need. You can’t use the web versions to run a mail merge or execute macros, for example. Those require traditional Microsoft Office (see some ways to get an Office license for free

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if you need to upgrade).

Another serious limitation of Office Online is right in the name—you need an internet connection to use it. For those who often travel without internet access, Office Online won’t be reliable enough. If that’s the case for you, you can try a free Office alternative; check out our comparison of LibreOffice and OpenOffice

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to review two top choices.

Do You Have to Pay for Microsoft Word? No!

It’s great news that Microsoft Word and other Office apps are available online for free, as you don’t have to pay for the basic functionality. If you’ve never tried Office Online, you should test it out to see if it works for your needs. You could end up saving some money by using it instead of the regular Office.

As you may know, one of Office Online’s biggest competitors is the Google Docs suite. Have a look at our overview of Google Docs

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to learn more.

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