Word X: Finding commands in the ‘Customize’ dialog

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
January 29th, 2004 • 1:59 am

A long time ago, I wrote a whole article about how poorly designed the “Customize…” dialog in Word was. (I am weird that way.)

The sad thing is that things haven’t improved one bit. On the contrary, Word X has even introduced new problems, with windows and toolbars overlapping each other and what not.

One of the long-standing problems, however, is that things are just so badly organized in this dialog. Today, for example, I went looking for a keyboard shortcut that could be used to switch between panes in a document window after you’ve split the window into two panes.

First question: Where do I look? Will such a command (if it exists) be under “View” or under “Windows and Help” or under “All Commands” only. Commands related to other types of panes, such as the footer and header panes or the footnote/endnote panes are found under the “View” category of commands, so you’d expect a command about the split panes to be there as well. No such luck.

I then started scrolling through the “Windows and Help” list, in case I could see anything. Second problem: What would such a command be named? Would it be called “TogglePanes”, or “SwitchPanes”? Or will it comes with an additional prefix such as “View” as some other Word commands do (in a totally unpredictable fashion)? In other words, should I look under “ViewTogglePanes” or “ViewSwitchPanes”? Or is it “NextPane”?

After a few minutes of this, I was about to pull my hair in frustration. Of course, there is no such thing as a tool for searching for a command in the “Customize…” dialog. All you have are those lists of arbitrarily named and arbitrarily ordered commands divided into arbitrary and arbitrarily ordered category lists.

I tried Word’s Help feature, searching for “pane” as a keyword. It did find a page about the panes obtained by splitting a window into two parts — but there was no mention of a command and keyboard shortcut to switch between the two panes.

Yet I was convinced that Word had such a command. It is, after all, pretty much the only thing that Microsoft is good at — providing a high level of customizability.

But I was starting to think that I might have to try and find a VisualBasic command for this and write a macro.

Then after going through the lists of commands one more time, I finally found it. The command does indeed exist. It’s called… “OtherPane”, and it’s under the “Windows and Help” category. And in fact it already has a keyboard shortcut in Word: F6.

I decided to add the command to my “Window” menu as well, just in case I should forget the keyboard shortcut. Word added the command alright, but it didn’t put the keyboard shortcut next to the menu item, as it’s supposed to do for menu commands that do have a shortcut. Oh well. At least I’ll have a reminder of what the command is called — if I can remember to go to my “Window” menu, that is.

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