There’s a whole host of ways you can make the various Microsoft Office applications easier to use. In fact, most users don’t take full advantage of the options for customizing these applications to make the Office suite work better for them.
Today, we’re going to talk about one of the easiest customizations: the Status Bar. Look at the bottom of any Office application and you’ll see a bar just above the Windows Taskbar at the bottom (like this example from Word 2007):
(If you need to see the above a bit bigger, click on it for a full-sized version. Go on — I’ll wait here.)
Most users don’t know they can change the information listed on the task bar in any Office application (except Outlook, unfortunately). And it’s really easy:
- Right-click your mouse anywhere on the status bar.
- Select the option(s) you want (check marks on this example from Word 2007 indicate the option is already selected and showing up on the Status Bar):
I recommend, for example, always turning on the Track Changes indicator, and I personally think the Word Count is a handy piece of information to have. Feel free to experiment with adding or deleting features — you won’t mess up your document!
- Once you’ve made your choices, click elsewhere on the screen to close the Customize Status Bar menu and save your changes.
That’s it! (That may be the easiest Word task you’ll do all day!)
Now, why is this important? Here are some scenarios to consider:
- Someone’s sent you a document to review/revise and left Track Changes on, so when you start typing, Word starts redlining the document. With the status bar set to show the status of Track Changes, you can simply click on that section once to turn it off. That’s much simpler (and faster) than going to the Review tab, dropping down the Track Changes menu, and turning it off there.
- You’ve imported some text from WordPerfect and notice that the headers and footers mysteriously change mid-document. Why? The status bar gives you a clue: the section numbers at the left keep changing. (Text imported from WordPerfect often embeds random section breaks into a document, which can affect the headers and footers.) How much time would you have otherwise spent trying to troubleshoot that problem?
- Ever wanted to get a quick sum or count of highlighted cells in Excel without creating a formula? Change the status bar to show Count and Sum. You can also get quick calculations of Averages, Minimums and Maximums in the status bar.