In an earlier article, Why, Microsoft, Do You Insist On Torturing Me?, I discussed my frustration with the Microsoft ribbon that is being forced on me by Office 2010. I also discussed my moving from Windows XP to Windows 7. I thought it appropriate to give an update, as well as introduce you to an inexpensive bit of software that greatly eases my Office frustrations: Toolbar Toggle.
Let’s start with Windows 7. I’ve been using it for several weeks now, and all I can say is Wow! Great! Excellent! I think with Windows 7 you can throw any accolade you want at it and the accolade will stick.
Win 7 has been an absolute delight. This coming weekend, my computer goes back into the shop for another Win 7 changeover. To go from XP to Win 7 without doing a clean install, I had to upgrade to Win 7 32-bit. Knowing that ultimately I want a 64-bit system, I converted all of my hard drives to “hot-swappable” hard drives (which means I can simply pull out one hard drive and plug in another). Now, while I’m at the Finding Your Niche Conference (see A Reminder: The Finding Your Niche Conference) this coming weekend, my local computer shop will prepare a new hot-swappable hard drive for me that is Win 7 64-bit. This will allow me to gradually set up the 64-bit system for work yet allow me to continue to earn a living by working on the 32-bit system.
Although Win 7 was a great success and I highly recommend it, Office 2010 was more problematic. installation went smoothly, but I have problems using the ribbon system efficiently. I need to learn to modify it and accommodate to it, and Toolbar Toggle is helping me make that transition.
I skipped Office 2007 because of the ribbons and the inability to easily customize them. In this regard, Office 2010 is a big improvement — the ribbons are somewhat customizable and what customizing can be done is easy to do. But I still hate the ribbons. It has increased the number of steps I need to take to get a task done and it changes a work style that I have learned over 25+ years of Microsoft Office use. But change does come and one has to learn to deal with it.
I haven’t completely left Word 2003 (I have left completely Excel 2003, Outlook 2003, and PowerPoint 2003 for their 2010 counterparts; it is just Word, my daily workhorse that I haven’t yet abandoned) because I can get my work done much more efficiently in Word 2003 than in Word 2010.
But my abandonment of Word 2003 will happen in the next couple of weeks thanks to Toolbar Toggle. Toolbar Toggle gives me my Word 2003 menu system in Word 2010 (it also does the same for Excel and PowerPoint, but I personally don’t feel the need for it in those programs). It doesn’t do away with the ribbon system, it complements it by making both available (or you can hide one or the other).
Toolbar Toggle is fully customizable, just like the toolbars in Word 2003. Consequently, as I am learning to adjust to the new Word system, I can fall back on the old system. It’s a crutch for those who are like me and are uncomfortable with the ribbon system. I keep both the ribbon and the Word 2003-style toolbar visible as I work in Word 2010. I try to use the ribbon system as much as I can, and am constantly tweaking it to get it to conform to my way of working, but rather than curse at my computer and want to punch out Word 2010 because I’m frustrated with the ribbon system, I just go to the Toolbar Toggle Word 2003 toolbar and move on.
Toolbar Toggle is inexpensive. There are two versions, a Lite and Full (what I call Pro). A single-user license for the Lite costs $12.95 and $19.95 for the Full. The Full version also includes a license for the Lite version and can be installed on 2 computers, covering both your desktop and laptop, for example, for $19.95. A comparison of the two versions is found here. One major difference is that the Lite version becomes part of the ribbon whereas the Full creates its own toolbar below the ribbon. You can see a demo of Toolbar Toggle here.
And some good news: Until October 31, 2010, you can buy the Full version with a 20% discount. At checkout, just enter the code NICHE20OFF.
Toolbar Toggle tech support is absolutely fantastic. I had some questions in the beginning about customization and sent off an e-mail; within hours I had a reply.
If you are struggling with the transition to Office 2007/2010 or have put off making the transition because of the ribbon and not wanting to forsake the menu system of Offices 2003 and earlier, then this is the add-on for you. I have found it invaluable and the price is hard to beat for the help it provides. I view Toolbar Toggle as a must-have add-on for Office 2010 so as to be able to keep up with my work flow as I transition to the new ribbon system.
In addition, it is a great complement to the Editorium, EditTools, and PerfectIt macros discussed in The 3 Stages of Copyediting: I — The Processing Stage, II — The Copyediting Stage, and III — The Proofing Stage, respectively, because it makes my editing work easier to do.
(Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the maker of Toolbar Toggle and I do not receive any compensation from any sales of Toolbar Toggle. I purchased my own copies of the Full/Pro version for each of my computers at full retail and use the product myself. I am recommending it because it is a great tool for those of us who want the menu system of Office 2003 but the new features of Office 2010.)