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Creating a Custom Working Environment
 Toolbars & Buttons

red check icon Buttons & Toolbars, What & Why?
PowerPoint has a very large array of different buttons, each of which is a shortcut to a specific PowerPoint tool. True, it doesn't take all that long to click File, find Save in the dropdown box, and click it. But it is even more convenient to be able to click the Save button as it sits, already visible, on an always-visible toolbar. Since each PowerPoint presentation may take hundreds of clicks, saving perhaps half of them soon seems very worthwhile.

So how do you assemble the perfect set of toolbars, filled with all the most useful buttons, and lodge them permanently around the edges of your basic PowerPoint application window (some people call this their PowerPoint desktop)? Unfortunately, that all depends! Some People create lots of animations, and so want all the animation buttons visible. Others don't. The same goes for graphs, outlining, images, etc. Most of us end up assembling our own custom array of buttons and toolbars based on experience plus some trial and error. About the sixth time you click through a sequence of steps (ex: Insert, Picture, File) to get at a tool, you decide to go looking for a button that will let you tell PowerPoint to insert picture from file all in just one click.

red check icon First Get to Know Your Standard Toolbar Configuration
First, get to know the buttons you already have up on your standard setup toolbars. Your application window's configuration, unless changed greatly from its starting default setting, probably includes the 3 most basic toolbars usually shown in the default Normal view configuration (Normal view shows 3 frames - slide, outline & notes). These 3 basic toolbars are the Standard and Formatting toolbars below the top menu bar and the Drawing toolbar at the bottom of the screen. These are the ones visible on the below screenshot. Run your mouse over each button; as you do, a small text box should appear identifying each, saying things like "print," "paste," "insert hyperlink," etc. Quite possibly some of the shortcuts you want are already present on your existing toolbars.


Screen Shot of PowerPoint toolbar options, show in drop-down window

red check icon Adding (and Removing) New Toolbars and Buttons
To see the full range of possible toolbars, click on View, Toolbars. Notice that the above screenshot was taken with the View and Toolbar dropdown boxes displayed. Try adding a likely looking toolbar. Do so by selecting it; a check should appear next to the toolbar name and the new toolbar should join already-existing ones. Look at the new buttons that appear and decide if enough of them are useful to give them permanent screen room. If not, just open up the toolbar box again, and remove the checkmark. The toolbar should go away.

The bottom toolbar choice is Customize. If you choose that, a new box appears that lets you see, when the Commands tab is clicked, all the individual shortcut buttons for all the commands possible for each of the major categories to be found on the Menu bar. Thus if you have been clicking on Insert to get to insert hyperlink, you can select that sequence in the Customize box, and arrive at the Hyperlink command button. You can then click and drag that image up to an existing toolbar; release, and the button should now be permanently lodged on a toolbar. (To remove an unwanted button, again call up the Toolbar Customize box. With it open, right click on the button, and select delete from the choices in the box that will appear.)

red check icon Asking the Office Assistant
That sometimes-annoying paperclip that keeps popping up can be useful if you can't remember which command category produced the particular action for which you now want a button. If Clippy isn't visible, you can bring him back by clicking on the Menu Bar Help command category, and then Show the Office Assistant. (On the other hand, if it is driving you crazy, you can make it go away by right-clicking on Clippy, then choosing Hide.) But if help is desired, key a question into the query box that appears when you left-click on Clippy. Often this will tell you the right command path to take.

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