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Office 2013 Feature Focus: Touch Mode

Like Windows 8, Office 2013 was designed for a much more diverse range of PCs and devices than were previous versions. The biggest single conceptual change, perhaps, is support for the unique needs of a new generation of multi-touch capable displays. And a single, simple Office 2013 feature called Touch Mode toggles a new display mode that’s optimized for fingertips.

Office 2013 offers other niceties for users of multi-touch devices, though it’s perhaps a bit of a stretch to describe this desktop suite of applications as touch optimized. (And there are in fact two Metro-style Windows 8 apps coming as part of Office 2013 as well, OneNote and Lync.)

Touch Mode is simple enough: When you toggle this display mode, the onscreen controls space out a bit from each other to make them more accessible to users via touch. Here, you can see the same Word 2013 ribbon in normal (top) and Touch Mode (bottom) displays:


To enable Touch Mode, you need to find it first. You might logically assume that this command would be found in the View tab of individual Office applications, or perhaps in Options. Instead, the Touch Mode command can be found in each application’s Quick Access toolbar, which is the customizable set of icons that sits in the upper left corner of the application window.


The Touch Mode command icon resembles a bullet hole. If you don’t see it, you can add this command to the Quick Access Toolbar by clicking the Customize Quick Access Toolbar button, which is the right-most button in this mini-toolbar. (Ironically, it’s so small that it’s impossible to tap with your finger.)


Interestingly, Touch Mode is a globally applied option. So if you enable this view in one Office 2013 application, Touch Mode will be immediately enabled in all other Office 2013 applications, including those that are currently running.

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