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Three Ways to Make Microsoft Word Easier to Live With

Okay, Word is pretty easy already, but these tips will improve your productivity

Last week you learned three ways to make Outlook easier to live with, and before that, Gmail. Now let's turn our attention to the world's most popular word processor: Microsoft Word.

I'll admit that I'm pretty fond of Word. It's been my primary word processor ever since I reluctantly relinquished WordPerfect -- for DOS. I've even come to appreciate the Ribbon interface that debuted in Word 2007, though it can be a difficult transition to make.

With issues like that in mind, I've compiled this list of three tips that can make Microsoft Word a little easier on the brain.

1. Bring Back Word's Pull-Down Menus

If you're moving to Word 2007 or 2010 from an earlier version, or from a competing word processor, the aforementioned Ribbon interface can really seem confusing -- and a lot of users never get comfortable with it.

Fortunately, there's UBitMenu, a free add-on that brings pull-down menus back to Word 2007 and 2010 (Excel and PowerPoint, too), thus easing your transition. Thankfully, it keeps the Ribbon, too, so you can learn the new interface without totally abandoning the old one.

After installing it, you'll see a new tab next to Home: the aptly named Menu. Click it and you'll find File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, and all the rest of those long-lost drop-downs. Woot!

2. Add a Tabbed Interface

It's hard to believe that even in Office 2013, Microsoft still hasn't adopted tabs for switching between multiple open documents.

Thankfully, there's Office Tabs, which adds documents tabs to not only Word, but also Excel and PowerPoint. And it works with Office 2003 and later.

With Office Tabs you can manage multiple documents in the same window, just like in practically every other program under the sun. In fact, this surprisingly versatile add-on gives you plenty of control over how tabs are managed, what color and font style they should have, and so on.

Best of all, Office Tabs is free (for personal use, anyway).

3. Switch on Word's Thumbnail View

Do you routinely work with lengthy documents? Then you know what a hassle it can be to jump between pages. Wouldn't it be great if Word had a thumbnail view like PowerPoint's, a way to instantly switch to another page just like you switch slides?

As it happens, Word offers the very same option -- and it's fantastic for navigating long documents. In Word 2007 and 2010, click the View tab, then check the Thumbnails box. In Word 2003, click the View menu, then Thumbnails.

Now you have a scrolling list of thumbnails, just like in PowerPoint. Click one to immediately jump to that page. Handy, no?

Okay, those are my tips. Now hit the comments and share your secrets for making Word easier to live with.

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