Toolbars & Menus

A menu (or drop-down menu) is the way in which actions can be performed.
A toolbar is just a collection of icons that provides a shortcut to using the drop-down menu.
A toolbar displays the commands in a simple linear display whereas menus can incorporate different levels.
Toolbars offer quick shortcuts to commonly used commands.
The image that appears next to a command on a drop-down menu is usually an indication that this command also exists on a toolbar.
PowerPoint contains over fifty pre-defined toolbars and over forty pre-defined shortcut menus.
The toolbars change automatically depending on what you are doing and on your personal settings.
You can re-position any of the toolbars using the mouse and they can be docked to any side of the application window.
To quickly display another toolbar select (View > Toolbars) and select the toolbar from the submenu.

The ticks show all the toolbars that are currently displayed on the screen.
If the toolbar you want to display is not there you, press the Customise button at the bottom and select the Toolbars tab to get a full list.
When you first open Word there are two toolbars displayed, the Standard and Formatting toolbars. These are displayed on the same row in recent version of Word although they can easily be adjusted to occupy two rows.
The commands on a drop-down menu are divided into groups. This is to help you identify and remember the commands and to associate any commands that might be related.

Can I use the Keyboard ?

You can select menu commands by using the mouse or by using the keyboard.
Pressing the Alt key will activate the Menu Bar an pressing the ESC key will deactivate the Menu Bar.
You can move between the menus by pressing the Arrow Keys or the Tab key. You can expand a particular menu by pressing the Enter key or the Up or Down Arrow keys.
Alternatively you can select a particular drop-down menu by pressing the letter that is underlined on that menu.
Once the drop-down menu has expanded you can use similar methods to select the individual commands.
Once the command is highlighted you can press the Enter key to select it.
For example you could press (Alt + "E", "S") to display the Paste Special dialog box.
You can move between the visible toolbars by pressing (Ctrl + Tab) or (Ctrl + Shift + Tab).

Are there any Menu Conventions ?

All the Microsoft Office applications have standard conventions as far as the toolbars and menus are concerned.

These are located to the left of some commands and indicate that there is a toolbar providing an alternative way to activate the command. The icon is the same as that used on the toolbar.

Shortcut keys

These are located to the right of some commands and indicate that there is a alternative (and faster) way to activate the command.

Triangular Arrows

These are located on the far right of some commands and indicate that there is a submenu. These are also known as Cascading menus.

Ellipsis ()

These are located on the right of the commands and indicate that a dialog box will be displayed in order to confirm the action.


These are commands that are greyed out and indicate that the commands are unavailable at that time.

What are Screen Tips ?

These are name given to the yellow boxes that appear when you hover over command buttons.
These are extremely useful and can help identify the commands.

Docked or Floating Toolbars ?

Some of the toolbars you open are "floating" and some are "docked".
Floating toolbars can appear over the presentation and can be moved and dragged around.
Docked toolbars are anchored to the edge of the application window.
If you drag a floating toolbar to the top, bottom, left or right then it will become docked.
The different toolbars can be displayed or hidden at any time. A screen displaying fewer toolbars provides a larger and less cluttered working area.
You can move a floating toolbar by dragging its title bar. To anchor it you can double click its title bar.
To transfer a docked toolbar into a floating toolbar hover the mouse over a space in the toolbar and click and drag over the slide area.
When a toolbar is floating you can change its shape by dragging the borders or alternatively hide it by pressing the small cross in the top right corner.

What is a ".pcb" file

Any customisation that you do to your toolbars and menus is stored in a ".pcb" file on the C drive
The larger your ".pcb" file the longer PowerPoint will take to open.
The file contains information on the position and visibility of all toolbars and menus including any custom toolbars and menus.
To totally reset all your toolbars and menus and to discard any personalisation exit PowerPoint and delete this file. A new one will be created the next time you open PowerPoint.

Changing the Width of Toolbar Controls

It is possible to reduce the width of any textboxes and drop-down lists, such as the Font, Font Size and Zoom controls.
Select (View > Toolbars > Customize) to display the Customize dialog box.
Select the toolbar control and hover the mouse over the controls border on the right hand size.
The cursor will change to a resizing handle allowing you to adjust the width of the control.

Tear Off menus

When a drop-down menu has a small blue or grey line across the top this indicates that it is actually a "tear-off" menu.
This means that you can drag the menu options away from the drop-down menu to display a stand alone toolbar.


Be aware that toolbars will overlap when there is not enough room on the screen.
PowerPoint's new personalised menus only show commands you frequently use.
You can close a toolbar by clicking on the tiny cross in the top right corner. This is only available when the toolbar is floating.
It is possible to make your toolbars and buttons larger by using the "Options" tab of the (Tools > Customise) dialog box. This can be done by checking the "Large Icons" check box.
To quickly display a toolbar, press the Right mouse button when over a menu or toolbar to display the (View > Toolbars) list.

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