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Office 2013 Tip: Personalize the Office Applications

Office 2013 Tip: Personalize the Office Applications

Now, Office customizations will sync across all your Office installs

With Microsoft set to rollout an amazing new wave of Office products and services in the weeks ahead, it’s time to turn our attention to how we might best take advantage of these offerings. First up: The ways in which you can personalize the Office applications and have those changes sync across all of your installs on different PCs and devices automatically.

Sign in with a Microsoft account

Like Windows 8, Office 2013 is heavily tied to your Microsoft account, and it uses this integration to sync any settings changes you make in Office across all of your installs. So the first thing you need to do is ensure you’ve signed into Office with your Microsoft account.

You’re prompted to do so the first time you run any Office 2013 application. But you can also sign-in from any Office application: Just tap File, Account.

Note: If you’re using a business-oriented version of Office and/or Office 365, you can optionally sign into your domain to receive the same settings sync functionality.

Choose an Office theme

During the Office 2013 preview, many customers complained that the start white background of the applications—part of Microsoft’s “Metro-fication” of the suite—was too stark and bright. So now you can choose between three themes, white, light gray, and dark gray. I use and recommend dark gray and, frankly, think there should be other darker choice as well.

You make this change via the application Options dialog, available from File, Options.

Note: You can also configure this option from the Account backstage interface. Tap File, Account to access this.

Choose an Office background

New to Office 2013 is a background tattoo, similar to, but subtler than, the background tattoos you see on the Windows 8 Start screen. There are 14 backgrounds available, as well as a “no background” option that I prefer. You’re actually offered the chance to set this option during Setup, but you can change it later in the Options dialog.

As you can see, the background effect is applied only to the upper right portion of the application windows.

Note: You can also configure this option from the Account backstage interface. Tap File, Account to access this.

But wait, there’s more

While the options above are explicitly set throughout the Office application user interfaces, other changes you make to the Office applications are also synced across your PCs. This includes such things as your ribbon settings: You can configure the ribbon in applications like Word to auto-hide, show tabs, or show tabs and commands. And whichever you choose will be applied across each install of Word on all of your PCs and devices.

Because these settings are synced to your sign-in account, every member of a family that uses the same Office 365 Home Premium subscription will have their own settings replicated across whatever Office installs they use on different PCs and devices. That is, the settings are not synced to the Office 365 subscription, they’re synced on a user account-by-user account basis. Everyone gets a personalized experience.

There are other benefits to this Microsoft account integration, including the availability of your SkyDrive-based documents—including a list of recently accessed documents that is account-based, not device-based—but I’ll explore that in a future tip.

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