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Microsoft Office Ribbon

Whether you use a Windows computer (PC) or a Mac computer, you probably use Microsoft Office programs: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and/or Outlook.

If you have Office 2007 or 2010 for the PC, or Office 2011 for the Mac, you are familiar with the Ribbon — the horizontal tool bar at the top of your screen that replaced the traditional drop-down menus. The Ribbon, which is organized by tabs, shows all your editing choices within each tab at once, rather than make you search for them.

To show so many editing tools at once, the Ribbon takes up space across the top of your screen, space that reduces the available room for your document. Thus, Microsoft gives you the option to minimize the Ribbon when you’d rather see fewer tools and more document. (You can still see the tabs when the Ribbon is minimized, and you can access the full Ribbon with one click.)

Here is where the “minimize” controls are located so you can choose — or not — to minimize your Ribbon:

Windows (PC) Computers

Hover your cursor over the Ribbon tabs (“Home,” “Insert,” “Page Layout,” etc, at the top of your screen) and right-click. A menu will appear. The choice at the bottom of that menu is “Minimize the Ribbon.” If there is a checkmark next to this, your Ribbon is minimized. If you don’t want the Ribbon to be minimized, click once on this line — the checkmark will disappear and the Ribbon will return.

Macintosh (Apple) Computers

Click on the name of the tab that is open and the Ribbon will minimize. Click on any tab and the Ribbon will reappear to the tab you clicked. In addition, there is a “Ribbon Preferences” panel on the Mac that you can access from the “gear” icon on the far right of the Ribbon tab line. Click on the gear and then click on the “Ribbon Preferences” option. This will allow you to turn the Ribbon off altogether and also change the order of the tabs.

Every so often I get a call about a Ribbon which has disappeared from the screen, even though the user didn’t intend it to. I, too, am mystified by this, but I admit I have seen it happen.

At least now you know how to get your Ribbon back!