3 Ways To Make Office 2013 More Like Office 2010

office2013   3 Ways To Make Office 2013 More Like Office 2010A few months ago, I had a great opportunity to get a drastically discounted copy of Microsoft Office as part of a corporate discount program. When I went to purchase the product, I assumed it would be Office 2010, which is what I’ve been using at work for the past two years. Well, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was actually a discounted license of Office 2013. Thinking that I was extremely fortunate to get one of Microsoft’s cutting-edge versions of office for so cheap, I hurriedly downloaded and installed it, looking forward to diving into the experience of Microsoft’s latest and greatest Office offering.

Boy, was I ever in for a surprise. It doesn’t take much Googling to come across negative feedback out across the Internet about Office 2013. The most common complaints circle around how different Office 2013 is than Office 2010. There’s the odd splash page when you launch Office apps. There’s the strange menu bar without the ribbon that you became accustomed to in Office 2013. There’s the fact that saving takes a few extra steps, because apparently Microsoft is now using its Office products to try and promote SkyDrive.

MUO readers were well warned about these problems right from the beginning.  Christian described a lot of the issues you could expect with Word 2013 back in 2012. Christian then went into even more depth by writing a full guide to what’s new in Office 2013. In March of this year, Christian then offered a few tricks and tips to get rid of Office 2013 annoyances, and then apparently got so fed up with the whole thing that this month he’s started warning people not to buy Office 2013 at all.

Making Office 2013 More Like Office 2010

Let’s take a step back here – is Office 2013 really that bad? After all – it is still Office, and has all of the same functionality as Office 2010 did. Just check out our Office 2013 guide to see what it’s capable of. So do we really need to throw the baby out with the bathwater? Instead, I wanted to see if there were any tweaks that could be done in Office 2013 to make it look and feel a little more like I was used to with Office 2010 (which, to be honest, I’d hardly even got used to after using Office 2003 for so many years).

Well, let me just say that trying to make Office 2013 look like 2010 really isn’t all that hard – it just takes a little bit of poking around, switching a setting here and there, and sort of forcing the applications to open by default with the behavior and appearance that you liked in Office 2010.

What You Want Office 2013 to Look Like

Taking a look back at Office 2010, it’s pretty easy to see what people miss when they upgrade to Office 2013. The ribbon that took such getting used to after the earlier Office products suddenly grew on you. Once you learned how and where to find everything, it just became second nature, right?

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Every Office 2010 product had that ribbon bar. Once I learned how things were organized under each menu item, I honestly became much more productive using the last couple versions of Office than any other.

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Then along came Office 2013 – and all that was laid to waste. When I first opened Word, I thought that it would be like starting all over again – trying to relearn everything.

Office 2013 Isn’t Really Much Different

When I first started using Office 2013, it really was shocking. First, there was that big huge splash page with all of the templates. My first thought was, “what the…??” After a few moments of hunting, I found the blank document that I wanted. How annoying!

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And if you want to browse to a document to open it, you have to scroll waaaaaay down to the bottom of the left navigation area to find the browse option, except it isn’t called “Browse”.

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Then, when the blank document opened, I thought maybe I had opened the wrong application. Microsoft Word had suddenly transformed into some cheap mutation that looked like a cross between WordPad and Notepad. Seriously – this is considered an improvement?

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Finally, clicking on one of the menu items, I saw the ribbon bar that we’re all so familiar with. Not pleased, I struggled through creating and saving my first document – a letter that I was writing to someone. Not pleased with my first experience with Office 2013, I actually contemplated returning it for a refund.

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Thankfully, it wouldn’t come to that. There are a few tricks you can follow to set things back in order, and get Office 2013 looking and behaving as much like Office 2010 as possible.

Tips to Revert Office 2013 back to 2010

The first is to disable the start page. In his article on getting rid of Word annoyances, Christian mentions getting rid of the start page using a registry hack. You actually don’t have to do that. Just click on File and then choose options Options, and finally click on the General tab. About halfway down the page, you’ll see a setting to “Show start screen when this application starts.”

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Just deselect it. The next time you launch the application, the start page will never show up again!

Secondly, the ribbon bar. I really don’t like the ribbon bar disappearing on me. I want it visible and accessible at a moment’s notice. You can actually make it stay pinned down by going over to the lower right side of the ribbon bar and pressing the little “pin” icon.

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Another way to do it is to click on the window icon with the up arrow in it, and choose the selection to “Show Tabs and Commands”. This will set the application so the ribbon bar is always accessible and visible, just like in Office 2010.

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So, here’s my newly modified editing screen where I’ve opened a new document. The ribbon bar opened up automatically and stayed there. Now that’s a beautiful thing. I might keep Office 2013 after all…

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Then there’s the save option where SkyDrive is relentlessly promoted. Every time you click Save As, it defaults to SkyDrive, and you have to click on Computer to see your local directories. It’s Microsoft’s effort to push the cloud, but this sort of in-your-face pushing of technology is not the way to get on the good side of consumers.

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Well, never fear, because there’s a fix for that too. Go to File, Options, and click the Save menu item.  On this page, you’ll see a setting to “Save to Computer by default“. Select that box.

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Now, when you go to “save as“, it defaults to your computer, and there’s the browse button on the right side. One click on Save As, and you’re there. Hey, saving clicks is what it’s all about, right?

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So there you have it, with three little tweaks, you’re able to get rid of the annoying Start Splash page, keep the ribbon bar in place just like in Office 2010, and default the Save As option to browse your computer. The marketing of SkyDrive in Office 2013 was a huge complaint from everyone, so that particular checkbox is very much appreciated.

Now, I use my Office 2013 products all the time. With the tweaks above, it feels almost exactly like when I use 2010 at work, except there are plenty of little hidden features to discover, if you’re into things like saving to the cloud or using these apps on a touch screen display. Whether those features work well or not is another story entirely, and one meant for another article, another day.

Are you an Office 2013 user? What changes did you make to make the experience more tolerable? Do you love or hate Office 2013? Share your thoughts and advice in the comments section below!

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30 Comments -

Thomas Vercamer

I actually like Office 2013.
I’ve been using it for a month by now, and there are some advantages such as an easy way to go back where you left of the previous time you worked on a document.
There is also an improvement considering the visual effects, everything seems to go more fluently.
However, there are also a lot of things where Microsoft really messed up (such as the capitalized menu-items, the extra steps to save files – as Ryan said – and so on)

Personally I like working with Office 2013, but if you are using Office 2007 or 2010, I wouldn’t advise you to upgrade. There simply aren’t enough advantages or extra features to do so…

dragonmouth

There is one sure, easy, inexpensive way to make Office 2013 look like Office 2010 – don’ upgrade. Stick with Office 2010. It’ll save you a lot of money and a lot of headaches.

Ryan Dube

Yeah – in my case I was sort of forced to because that was the only option available at such a dramatic discount from the company program. (Maybe that’s why it was so cheap??)

I actually stuck with Office 97 for YEARS until people that had upgraded to Office 2003 started laughing at me – forcing me to upgrade to save my pride…

Joculex

I just wonder what Microsoft are doing to their products. Everyone is trying to make Windows 8 back into Windows 7 and now Office 2013 back to 2010. Have they lost interest or is this a stop-gap as Vista was? Windows 7 and Office 2010 are both just fine for me so I will not be changing for many years to come. How stupid is the idea of a ‘touch sensitive PC monitor’. Just who would bother stretching over the keyboard and mouse just to tap the screen? Maybe Win 8 is ok for tablets or mobile phones but it sure is not for me!

Ryan Dube

Yeah – I agree, I’m shocked how much resistance there is to the latest Microsoft releases of their most popular products. I really do like Win 7 and probably won’t move on soon. With that said – after helping a friend get his touch screen PC up and running, I realized just how productive you can be with a touch-screen. It’s just so amazing how much faster you can do certain things like scrolling, and accessing large buttons (so much faster than clicking with a mouse).

I’m not really 100% sure it’ll dramatically improve productivity, but I suspect it could.

Nevzat A

I love the new templates, office 2013 rocks IMHO.

Scott M

I don’t use Office on my own Pc,I use Open Office,but many friends do and several have expressed some frustration and wished it was more like the older Office they were familiar with.I will be passing along to them.

macwitty

I’m an not and will no be a Office 2013 user. But Ryan Dube, I love your question: What changes did you make to make the experience more tolerable?

apstco

2013 is cheaper and cleaner but man people are such whiners. What MS has actually given people are options on how to use the UI, which is what people said they wanted when the ribbon first appeared, but that same group that whined about the ribbon in the first place now whines that it isn’t there by default. Amazing.

VDC

Add color schemes like Win 7 has and I would love it and wouldn’t “whine”, as you put it. Otherwise I HATE the way it looks and is a washout on the monitor. I feel “snow blind” after looking at it for any period of time. I finally had to change the settings on my monitor to at least give it a “flesh colored” look. Why couldn’t MS give us colors for F’s sake?!!!

Ron

There is a simple fix for upper case tabs.
Go into Options > Customize Ribbon. In turn, Right click on each tab name, select “Rename” from the drop menu, then add any character (a space, underline, period) before or after the tab name text. OK to save the change.

It takes a few minutes because you have to do it for every tab, in every app, but it does help.

Now, if only MS will come up with a better “color scheme” than the current three lame choices. I really do miss the higher definition icons and button borders from previous versions of Office.

Overall, it seems the MS has a design strategy (tragedy!) to dumb down their Windows and Office UI’s to the limitations of the lowest common denominator hardware. Unfortunately they chose 7″ smartphones as the low value. Ignoring or reversing all of the graphical processing power in desktops with 27 inch monitors! All because they want a “one-size-fits-all” UI solution for everything from the phone to projected PC images.

584710471920

This is not a very good post at all. You’ve give us some outstanding posts in the past but this feels very amateurish and more Microsoft bashing than needs to be from a professional like you. This feels more like something an elderly retiree would be blogging in their leisure time rather than a professional report.
Seriously though, the splash screen was so obvious, huge ‘blank’ document staring at you. Open new documents on the left. D’oh! The ribbon was not minimized when I installed it so, I highly doubt it was for most others.
I hope you grow to like it, because people like you and me should understand more than its aesthetics.

Ryan Dube

Thanks for the feedback. We’re trying to offer help for folks of all levels, and these complaints about Office 2013 are common across the net.

With that said, I take your advice to heart, because when you have a reader base that has come to expect a certain ‘level’ to the article in terms of expected reader experience, it’s important to bring an A game every time. I’ll keep that in mind when choosing topics to write about, and I appreciate your honesty.

-Ryan

Tom

I have to use Microsoft Office at work, but frustration factor is high.
2013 has a few nice new features, but as many others after all I don’t like it. Never would spend loads of money for it privately.

At home, I use SoftMaker Office 2012 Professional. It’s easy to use, offers seamless compatibility to all MSO formats, has all features 99% of the users need, it’s cheap ($99 for three licenses including em Client 5 Professional, Berlitz dictionaries, and free support), I cannot understand still so many people buy MSO.

Miguel

Really? Microsoft Office365 Home Premium gives you five licenses for $99. Why would you use Softmaker for the same price, with fewer licenses and features?

Tom

I have to use Microsoft Office at work, but frustration factor is high.
2013 has a few nice new features, but as many others after all I don’t like it. Never would spend loads of money for it privately.

At home, I use SoftMaker Office 2012 Professional. It’s easy to use, offers seamless compatibility to all MSO formats, has all features 99% of the users need, it’s cheap ($99 for three licenses including em Client 5 Professional, Berlitz dictionaries, and free support), I cannot understand still so many people buy MSO.

null

Excellent post. Perfect article: clear, upbeat, useful… pinpointed the very things that annoy me most about Office 2013, and solved them in under a minute! Okay, I still dislke all caps for menus…

Joy

I agree with your comments on Office 2013! My problem with both Office 2013 and Office 2010 is that is actually takes more clicks to do a task than it did with 2003. And as you stated, “saving clicks is what it’s all about.” On the subject of clicks, keyboard shortcuts are much more efficient than either the mouse or touch screen (I can’t imagine wanting to lean forward, raise my arms, and use the screen for simple commands).

I’m having a problem that you didn’t address; the keyboard shortcuts that I’ve set disappear the next time I open the application. Have you heard of this? Thank you.

Cameron

I have always used as many features in a software product that I can. I find that taking a few(or many) minutes to learn how to work smarter/faster with new software benefits me in the end. I am the first person in my office to use MSO 2013. I used 2010 for years. Took me a while to add my personal customization but that taught me much about how the software works. I did really appreciate this article because it highlighted a few things I did not like but was so busy getting my work done that I stop to try and figure them out. The suggestions help me take care of them.

The one issue I really have a problem with is the color scheme. On my laptop the wording on the Ribbon,etc., is too small and hard to read. There is not enough contrast to help see things. Any assistance changing the color or contrast would be greatly appreciate.

Freya

My biggest problems with Office 2013 were the screaming capitalised menu headings and the harsh, glaring, flat-colour UI. They were distracting, painful to look at, and even switching from the white to the dark grey theme didn’t make it any easier on my eyes. I wear glasses and have an astigmatism – and I’m an English literature postgrad student, so I spend many, many, many hours staring at Word documents! – so in the end, that was a deal-breaker for me: I went back to 2010 only a few hours after installing my (fortunately heavily discounted) copy of Office 2013. I just pray that the visuals will be improved for later versions of Word…

Joseph

Ryan,

Thanks for taking the time to work out these options. I found them very helpful and will implement them tomorrow morning. I am not against new things or learning new things, but it seems to me the MS changes things just for the sake of changing things. While this is fine for someone whom has never used the software before for those of us who have worked with it for years it is a pain. Changes in the name of security and/or productivity are great and acceptable. Changes for the sake of making something look new id not the best way to endear you to your customers. IMHO

olad

How did you get ‘text boundaries’ to revert to office 2010 type?

Sandgroper

Thanks for the good info Ryan – I’ve just installed 2013 (from 2007) and getting used to it. One big problem I have and hope you can solve for me (and others?) is the colour palette – the “red” is no longer red – it’s more like brown. Is there a way to add a true red?

S60AWD

Heres the major problem however…. the UI of office 2013 is so devoid of colour and detail that everything looks flat and the same.

Office 2010’s ribbon uses colour and shadows to make areas look distinct. 2013 has flattened everything down and it much less intuitive to use.

I got 2013 but went back to 2010. Just like most people with Windows 8 have gone back to Windows 7.

Sandgroper

Thankyou S60AWD – sad what they’ve done and doesn’t make logic as to why they “fix” something when it’s not broken. . Interesting comments about Windows 8 too. I’m about to buy a new Desktop and have been agonising over Win 7 or Win 8 awaiting Win 8.1. Decision made – Win 7

Mimi Posey

Thanks! You really helped!

mike

Dont buy it if you like a bit of colour in your life. It looks so boring. What a let down.

mfoster90

All the feedback is helpful, but I have to ask why when I have one document or spreadsheet open and minimized and I open another one the first one pops up off the taskbar instead of staying minimized. Is there any way to change that behavior?

Hyman T

I have been trying to get the program to let me just ‘save as’, but it does not. You must always make a choice to save to computer or to something else. True, one can do F12 or put an icon on the ribbon of ‘save as’. But this is extra work.

Hyman T

I have been trying to get the program to let me just ‘save as’, but it does not. You must always make a choice to save to computer or to something else. True, one can do F12 or put an icon on the ribbon of ‘save as’. But this is extra work.