Tip: Get the Simplified Ribbon in Microsoft Office for Windows

Posted on October 25, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft 365 with 14 Comments

I have literally been waiting for years for Microsoft to bring its simplified ribbon to the desktop version of Word. And now, that day has arrived. Sort of.

And I write “sort of” there for multiple reasons.

First, it looks like Microsoft is not bringing a simplified ribbon to its desktop Office apps, beyond the version that is available now in Outlook. Instead, Microsoft is bringing a new toolbar to these apps that will appear when the ribbon is minimized. (If this was announced, I missed it.)

I’ve been using the ribbon this way for about the past two years because the normal ribbon is too big, but the addition of this toolbar approximates the simplified ribbon. The biggest difference is that the optional toolbar sits below the ribbon and is the same no matter which ribbon tab is selected. But it is at least customizable, and Microsoft auto-populates it on the first run with the commands you use the most.

Second, you have to enroll Office in the Office Insider Program Beta Channel (File > Account > Office Insider), check for updates, and then wait a few days for this new toolbar to be offered to you.

Third, you may still not get it: As the person who tipped me off to this told me, it seems to be offered on some PCs and not others. I’ve enrolled in the Insider Preview on two PCs here in Mexico, for example, and one was offered the toolbar while the other was not.

Still, this is a huge improvement over the previous two years of silence. And while the new toolbar is not the same as a simplified ribbon, I’ll take what I can get at this point.

Thanks to Doug Kinzinger for the tip!