The Quick Customize Menu

One of the new features in the upcoming Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh that I haven't written about yet is something we call the Quick Customize Menu.

As you may know, the Quick Access Toolbar is a customizable part of the UI in which you can add features for quick access. Simply right-click any control in the Ribbon, or any group of controls, and choose "Add to Quick Access Toolbar" to add it to the QAT. There's also a customize dialog box where you can add many commands at once.

So, it's pretty easy to add things to the Quick Access Toolbar. But we wanted to go a step further, and make it even easier for people to add a few features we believe will be among the most-frequently added.

We created a list of around ten features per-program, using the Customer Experience Improvement Program data from Beta 1, B1TR, and Beta 2 to help inform this decision.

Next to the QAT is a little arrow. In the long-term deployments of Beta 1 we did last year, one of the behaviors we noticed was that people first clicked on the arrow to try customize in many cases. Unfortunately, what you saw when you clicked this arrow was a rather fallow menu containing only two commands: open the customize dialog box, or move the QAT below the Ribbon.

So in Beta 2 Technical Refresh, we built a Quick Customize menu on to the arrow which lets you quickly add a core set of features to the QAT. (You can, of course, still right-click anything in the Ribbon or Office Menu to add it to the QAT as well.)

What's on the menu? Well, a lot of good stuff. For instance, the "New" icon which directly opens a new blank document. And the beloved but dangerous "Quick Print", which immediately sends your entire document to the default printer.

One you might be surprised about in Word is "Draw Table"—but only if you consider English alone. "Draw Table" is extensively used in East Asian languages, where tables are frequently used to structure and control the text flow of a document. This is one of those cases where the usage data for a particular feature is vastly dependent on the locale you're in and the input language you're using.

Each program has a slightly different menu; the Excel menu, for instance, contains Sort Ascending and Sort Descending. On the PowerPoint menu, you'll find "Start Slide Show."

The Quick Customize Menu is not a revolution—but it's a nice affordance to improve the discoverability of customization for beginner/intermediate users who are most likely to want to add just a few simple commands to their Quick Access Toolbar.

(Want to read more about customization? There's a whole article here.)

Comments (35)
  1. Francis says:

    Is there a keyboard shortcut to this menu?

    Why isn’t the QCM enveloped by the QAT outline? There is no cue that the QC menu pertains to the QAT aside from proximity.

    Why not push the QAT and QCM a few pixels to the right–it would reduce crowding in the NW corner, and the QAT outline could be made into a rounded rectangle in keeping with the rest of the UI (instead of the weirdly asymmetrical, not quite parallel to the Office button shape that it is now.)

  2. Francis says:

    P.S. I hope that Undo and Save are not juxtaposed in the final release as they are in the screen shot. These two buttons make really poor neighbors (oh no, I just mangled my document, let me click undo–whoops that was save!)

  3. netfreak says:

    Dear Jensen,

    When will we be able to try TR? I am in beta since office 2003 but that time I haven’t been so impatient about new build

  4. Giga says:


    If you miss Undo button and click Save, you can undo changes after pressing Save.

  5. Vorn says:

    Is the QAT mile-high?


  6. Nick says:

    You describe the previous menu as "fallow" but were users not able to figure out how to use it?  Were they not able to add the commands they want? When users wanted to customize the QAT, they clicked on the arrow; you make it sound like a failure that clicking on the arrow exposed a menu with an option to customize the QAT.

    It seem to me that you may have actually increased the complexity of customizing this toolbar because the user will now want to scan the entire menu to see if the command he wants is there before maybe moving on to the "more commands" option. The command well already has a "popular" tab is this list identical to what is there?  Either way, that may be more scanning for the user to find the command he wants.

    To use an architecture analogy, it seems like you are putting a cache (or two?) between the user and the full list of commands, but if the user isn’t going to customize the QAT frequently, and if the commands they choose are varied, then checking the cache may actually slow them down.

  7. A User says:

    I agree with Nick. Even after I train myself not to read the short list of "popular" items I am not looking for, what I am looking for is the command well and I have to navagate down somewhere near the end of the menu to open it.

  8. Before reading the article, I saw the dropdown with New, Open and Save, and thought "Wow, Jensen’s actually listened to us and implemented multiple QATs we can switch between".

    Then I saw Email and thought "Why would I want to email my QAT to someone? Oh OK, I guess I might want to share my QAT with a colleague."

    Then I saw Print, Preview and Spelling and finally realised that all these buttons do is add the icon to the QAT, rather than operating on the QAT(s).

    And now we’ve got this menu, there’s no way we’ll be able to have a similar-looking menu in that does the operations we want.

    Yet another win for the dumb user over the power user, and one that can’t be reversed. I’m disappointed. Again.

  9. Francis says:

    Giga: You are right (though that was not the case in Excel 2003.)

    Still, there is something to be said for keeping controls separate. Look at a car’s dashboard: the brake is located far from the stereo, the gas nowhere near the A/C.

  10. Glad Francis doesn't write software for Microsoft says:

    I fail to see what crowding you are referring to in the NW corner… there is an Office button and a tool bar… and the ribbon begins below that… just like the tool bar does now.

    Anyway, you ask if there are shortcuts to the QAT… yes, and a single press of ALT would show it to you. ALT+1, ALT+2, etc… are assigned to each button. I only have 5, though, and I’m too busy poking fun at your post to find out what happens beyond 10 items.

    Your analogy of the car’s dashboard makes little sense. Speedometers and gas guages don’t really make sense together either, but they’re still in the same place, no different than the A/C and Radio.

    Many of your posts to this blog are critical of every aspect of the new UI. It makes me wonder if you’ve actually spent any time with the beta, and if you have, why can’t you come up with something positive to say?

  11. Sebastien Caisse says:

    I’d have to agree that I’d expect the "More commands" to be on top (along with the Show below the ribbon option) rather then below. I gather that people won’t be fiddling adding/removing buttons from the QAT all the time so once they’ve selected their appropirate options and feel confrtable with them they’ll become irrelevant – although I can’t deny them being hading with a single click access – hence the "putting them at the bottom" solution.

    To Vorn:

    Yes – it not being mile-high in beta2 was a bug, in fact – See previous blog entries for details.

  12. PSBS says:

    Alert! Alert! Another UX Guide violation!  There should be no ellipse after ‘More Commands’.

  13. Claw says:

    Wow, thanks for telling me about Draw Table!  For a long time, I had no idea how to position vertically flowing Chinese text on a page with horizontally flowing English text.  Everytime I used the Text Direction button it would end up flipping the entire page rather than just the section I wanted.  Now I can do it within a table to get the results I want.

  14. steveg says:

    Why doesn’t the drop down graphic (orange in the image) match the drop down graphic in the bottom right corner of the tabs?

  15. Step says:

    Wow – a little surprised to see the reactions here.  My first reaction was "great, that makes a lot of sense.  Nice to see another demonstration of the attention to detail the Office Team is giving this release!"

    There are some good points above about the save and undo buttons being close to each other, as well as the strangeness of the curve and dropdown button.  But I think putting the most frequent customizations on top of the arrow drop-down makes a lot of sense.  Not to mention that Jensen clearly explains where this idea came from: actual users.  Yes, I’m somewhat of a power user, but only as much as I have to be to get the job done, which (should be) true even for power users.

    Thanks for keeping the articles flowing for so long, Jensen, and for all the listening and work your team is doing.  🙂

  16. Francis says:

    Glad: I use the beta. For real work, every day. My comments stem from that use. I am here to offer suggestions for improvement–by definition, inescapably, constructive *criticism.* If that is not the point of this forum, or you take issue with any of my posts, I would love to hear (off-thread.) You have my contact info.

  17. Grimwanderer says:

    Nice post… but one thing still bugs me abou the new Office UI:  that is is not used on the main Outlook screens.  The decision to not use the Ribbon throughout that program makes it feel like it is not really part of the Office Suite (the proverbial red-headed step child if you will).  Perhaps a ribbon tab across the top for each of the main functions of Outlook (E-mail, Tasks, Calendar, Contacts, as well as one for settings and configuration). The only thing that might be different about the Ribbon in Outlook would be that clicking on the "Calendar" tab (for example) would display the calendar.  Just a thought…

    As a fan of the Ribbon, I wish that Microsoft would look at rolling this UI into other apps (such as IE and Media Player… both of which would be well served by the Ribbon).  

  18. John F says:

    Wish you wouldn’t abuse the word "affordance" – we don’t have much good terminology in usability, it’s a shame to misuse it!

  19. Boris says:

    Something I would like to see associated with the print button on the QAT would be a drop arrow to pick the printer.  So many office environments have multiple printers.  They’ve avoided one click of the mouse by allowing the print menu button to be next to quick print, but I would like to have that list of printers, something that repeated the last print job (e.g. remembering current page), and then the link to the print menu.

  20. Heute kommt der Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh

  21. Heute kommt der Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh

  22. Heute kommt der Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh

  23. If you are a fan of keyboard shortcuts and wonder what Word’s new UI means for them, or if you don’t

  24. Kam VedBrat says:

    I ran into an interesting foible using the Ribbon in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 today. I’m generally

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