Windows 11 Microsoft 365 / Office 365 Update: Quick Access Toolbar & Menu Tabs, and the Colorful Office Theme

If you upgrade to Windows 11, you will find that your Microsoft 365 / Office 365 will soon change their look… again.  Here is my quick summary after thirty minutes.  All screenshots are in Word.  These changes apply to Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher.

The New Microsoft 365 / Office 365

Quick Access Toolbar

By default, the Quick Access Toolbar used to be in the upper left of your screen.  It used to have a Save icon, Undo & Redo icons.  You could easily add other commonly used icons/commands by clicking the “more” arrow to the right of the Quick Access Toolbar.  (See my blog MS Office / Word / Excel / PowerPoint: Customize Your Quick Access Toolbar.)

Older Office 2016 with Quick Access Toolbar

When I started Office this morning, my Quick Access Toolbar moved its location.  It is now below my menu tabs… BUT not the Save icon which is still on the top left.  My custom Quick Access Toolbar below the menu tabs no longer has a Save icon.  Undo and Redo are missing, too.

Where did Undo and Redo go?  Those are now on the Home tab, far left, in a new section called “Undo.”  (It’s odd to have “Redo” inside “Undo,” right?)

The New Microsoft 365 / Office 365 (again)

Windows 11 seems to be going away from words and just using icons.  Microsoft 365, however, reverses that trend in the new Quick Access Toolbar.  Now each icon has a lengthy description or “Command Label.”  If I move it back above the menu tabs (where it belongs), those descriptions disappear.  They are available by hovering the mouse over the icon, as before. 

Customize Quick Access Toolbar Options

When clicking the “more” arrow to move my Quick Access Toolbar back to the top, I did notice I can also “Hide Command Labels” in this default bottom location.   You cannot “unhide” command labels once it is in the top position.

With the new Quick Access Toolbar, the Save icon will always be on the left.  It is not available on the More Commands list.  Undo and Redo, are both available and I can position them where I like.

Menu Tabs

The new default mode seems to be “Show Tabs Only,” which means to only show the names of the tabs: Home, Insert, Design, etc. You click them to get the related commands on the “ribbon.” I know that my beginners like to see the ribbon all the time, so more about how to fix it so the ribbon is always showing below.

As I mentioned before, there is a new “Undo” section on the far left of the Home tab.  There is also a Draw tab between the insert and Design tabs. Microsoft is pushing the team-and-collaborate idea.  I believe the drawing tools will add in sharing comments and recommending changes on shared documents. 

Draw Tab Menu Ribbon

Your menu tabs are also more likely to disappear in the new version and you have to know a trick to get them back!  If your tabs are showing, there is a small drop-down arrow at the right edge of the menu tab ribbon.  If this drop-down is not showing, click on the Home tab to make it appear.

From the drop-down, you may click “Always Show Ribbon” and the menu tabs should stay visible until the next time they “hide.”  I always tell my beginning Microsoft 365 / Office 365 student to keep it on this “Always Show Ribbon” setting.  Seeing the commands on the ribbon seems to help them figure out what to do next.

Always Show Ribbon Option

As I mentioned, in the “Show Tabs Only” mode, no drop-down arrow is visible.  (Really, Microsoft?  You couldn’t add one little drop-down in that big blank area?)  Click on any tab to show the ribbon and click the drop-down to “Always Show Ribbon.” 

Hide Tabs / No Drop-Down Arrow

Ctrl-F1 also is a toggle to show and hide the ribbon, but you have to memorize that.

Office Theme Colors

My last fix to un-updating the update is to bring back the Office color banners at the top of each window: Word blue, Excel green, and PowerPoint orange. I often have more than one app open, and I like the “colorful” banners to tell me which window is which.

You can do this from any Office 365 / Microsoft 365 app and it will correct it on all apps. I will use Word in the screenshots.

Click the File tab to enter the “backstage” screen. Select Account, the third option from the bottom.

In the Office Theme drop-down, select “Colorful” rather than the drab “System Setting.”

File tab > Account > Office Theme > Colorful

As usual, from the backstage File tab, click the left-pointing arrow at the top left to return to Word.

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