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Microsoft Office has a lot of settings, but what it assigns by default might not be the best choice for you. We’ll show you key default Office settings that you should customize to save time and be more efficient.

Some settings are available across all Office programs Microsoft Office What? A Guide to the Office Suite Ecosystem Microsoft Office What? A Guide to the Office Suite Ecosystem Everyone knows what Microsoft Office is, right? Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote -- simple. What about Office Online, Office Mobile, Office 2016, and Office 365? The Office suite has become complex. We'll unravel it for... Read More , like customizing the features of the ribbon, while others are exclusive. We’ll look at some universal defaults, then tackle Excel, PowerPoint, and Word.

If you think there’s something we’ve missed from this list, please let us know in the comments below.

Universal

Some options are available across all (or the majority of) Office programs.

1. Customize the Ribbon

The ribbon is the bar that appears at the top and contains shortcuts and commands for the most common tasks. To customize it, go to File > Options > Customize Ribbon. On the left you will see all available commands, while the right shows your current configuration.

customize ribbon

Click an item on the left and then click Add >> to move it to the right. You can click the plus signs to expand the categories and get further customization on what is included.

For full information on this process, check our guide on optimizing the Office 2016 ribbon How to Optimize the Office 2016 Ribbon or Menu Interface How to Optimize the Office 2016 Ribbon or Menu Interface Do you often search for menu items in Microsoft Office? It's time to re-arrange and customize the Ribbon menu for your personal needs. You'll be surprised how flexible and easy it is! Read More .

2. Save Location

If you usually save your files in the same location, you should adjust the default file path. To do this, go to File > Options > Save and look for the Save documents section.

default save location

First, tick Save to Computer by default. Next, on Default local file location click Browse… and navigate to the path you desire. Then click OK twice.

Excel

3. Number of Worksheets

Past versions of Excel always had three blank worksheets available by default when creating a new spreadsheet. This was designed to show people that the feature of multiple worksheets 7 Tips to Save Time in Microsoft Excel 7 Tips to Save Time in Microsoft Excel If Excel has consumed a lot of your time in the past, let us show you how to get some of it back. These simple tips are easy to remember. Read More existed. Three was settled on as a nice amount that wouldn’t burden the user to delete the extraneous worksheets if they didn’t need them.

Times have changed and the majority of Excel users are well aware of this feature. As such, modern versions only open with one worksheet by default. Changing this is easy. In Excel, go to File > Options. On the General tab, beneath When creating new workbooks, you can input a value in Include this many sheets.

when creating new workbooks

Your entry must not exceed 255. When done, click OK.

4. Wrap Text

If a string exceeds the width of a cell then it will extend into those adjacent. This can be overcome by wrapping the text Saving Time with Text Operations in Excel Saving Time with Text Operations in Excel Excel can do magic with numbers and it can handle characters equally well. This manual demonstrates how to analyze, convert, replace, and edit text within spreadsheets. These basics will allow you to perform complex transformations. Read More so it fits within a single cell.

To have text wrapping enabled by default, first load a new spreadsheet and go to the Home tab on the ribbon and within the Styles group right-click Normal. Click Modify… and then Format… Switch to the Alignment tab, tick Wrap text, and click OK twice.

wrap text excel

This has changed the setting on the current spreadsheet, but now we need it to automatically apply for all future ones too. You can do this by using templates An Excel Template for Every Occasion An Excel Template for Every Occasion Skip the steep learning curve and sort your life with the power of Excel templates. We have compiled a selection of auto-updating templates to track budgets, manage projects, and more. Read More .

For this we need to know your Excel startup folder. If you don’t know it, keep Excel open and press Alt + F11 to open the VBA editor. Then press Ctrl + G, input ? application.StartupPath and press Enter. The folder path will appear beneath the command.

Go to File > Save As, name the file book and on the Save as type dropdown select Excel Template. Now Browse to the folder path from the previous step and Save the template here. All new spreadsheets you open will now use this template.

PowerPoint

5. End on Black Slide

When you reach the end of your PowerPoint in presentation mode 10 Tips for Making Better PowerPoint Presentations with Office 2016 10 Tips for Making Better PowerPoint Presentations with Office 2016 Microsoft PowerPoint continues to set new standards. New features in PowerPoint 2016 manifest its top spot as the best option for smart and creative presentations. Read More the last thing you see isn’t your final slide, but instead a black screen with the text “End of slide show, click to exit.” It’s there to show the presentation has finished, but if you’ve already designed a slide for that then the black screen is redundant.

The final black slide is enabled by default, but you can turn it off for all presentations. Go to File > Options and click Advanced on the left. Scroll down to the Slide Show section and untick End with black slide.

end with black slide

Click OK to save your changes.

6. Viewing Method

When you open a PowerPoint file it will default to the view that the file was saved in. For example, this could affect whether the thumbnails or notes sections appear when you load the file. You can override this so that PowerPoint automatically applies your view settings.

To change this, go to File > Options and select Advanced from the left. Scroll down to the Display section, use the dropdown on the Open all documents using this view row.

powerpoint view

Make your choice and click OK to save your changes.

Word

7. Change the Font

The standard font of Word How to Style Fonts in Microsoft Word to Make Your Text Stand Out How to Style Fonts in Microsoft Word to Make Your Text Stand Out A well formatted text can grab your reader's attention and help them flow through your document. We show you how to add that final touch in Microsoft Word. Read More used to be Times New Roman, but it’s now Calibri. If you’re not a fan of the latter and often find yourself having to change it, save yourself some time and change the default font when you create a new document.

Go to the Home tab on the ribbon and, within the Font group, click the downward arrow. This will open a new window where you can select which font you want, along with its various components like style and size. When ready, click Set As Default and select All documents based on the normal template?, then click OK.

word default font

8. Disable Paste Options

When you paste something into Word it’ll automatically bring up a Paste Options box that lets you choose the formatting. You can dismiss this quickly by pressing Esc, but if you don’t ever need it then you can turn it off completely.

To disable the Paste Options box, go to File > Options and select Advanced on the left. Scroll to the Cut, copy, and paste section and untick the Show Paste Options button when content is pasted. Click OK.

paste options word

Don’t Settle for Default

You can customize so much in Office — don’t settle for the default! Even though changing your font or text wrap options might seem like a minor thing, the time saved of no longer having to constantly adjust them will add up.

If you’re after even more tips, you’ll like our advice on how to be more productive in Office 10 Simple Office 2013 Tips That Will Make You More Productive 10 Simple Office 2013 Tips That Will Make You More Productive MS Office skills remain entrenched in the top common skills employers look for. So, be more savvy with these ten simple Office 2013 tips and grab more free time around the watercooler. Read More .

If you’re after more Word advice, be sure to see our guide on default Word settings you can adjust 10 Default Microsoft Word Settings You Can Optimize 10 Default Microsoft Word Settings You Can Optimize A few simple optimization steps can amplify your productivity with Microsoft Word. We give you ten quick and easy settings for your everyday tasks. Read More .

Which of these tips is most helpful for you? Is there a default setting that we’ve missed?

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  1. Davin Peterson
    January 3, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Starting with Office 2013, Microsoft set it to save files to the cloud - their Onedrive service by default. If you don't use this cloud service, you may want to change this setting

  2. HS
    January 2, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Nice article, thanks! One customized Office setting I've been searching for for ages is the following:
    Whenever I create a bulleted list in a Word document (or in an Outlook message, for that matter), the list gets bullet points that are indented by half an inch. I hate this (for purely aesthetic reasons, though). Instead, I would love each list item to have a dash in the front ("-") without indentation.
    I tried tinkering with any Outlook settings I could get a hold of, but to no avail. Any idea how to change the standard bulleted list settings?

    • Rick
      May 6, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      To change the bullet to a dash/hyphen, follow the instructions in the link below here, but use the "Define New Bullet" option. Then, choose from the "symbols" the hyphen you want.

      https://www.extendoffice.com/documents/outlook/1661-outlook-change-bullet-color-style.html

      As for the indentation, start your bullets as normal, highlight them, and then click the "Decrease Indent" icon in the ribbon.

      • HS
        May 10, 2017 at 8:51 am

        Hi Rick,

        thanks for your reply. What I meant was changing the default setting:
        I can of course manually change each bullet point list that I create; instead I would like to save my default list settings for future use. Unfortunately, changing the default bullet point settings does not seem to be possible.