Word 2004 Tip: How to prevent ‘Tables and Borders’ toolbar from appearing

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
October 12th, 2004 • 1:28 am

For years now, Word has had this extremely annoying behaviour where doing certains things causes toolbars to appear out of the blue even if you don’t want them to appear.

For example, I have my own customized toolbar for creating and editing tables in Word. It has a whole range of buttons for adding or deleting rows or columns, changing the table/cell border settings, etc. Thanks to this customized toolbar, I have absolutely no need for the built-in “Tables and Borders” toolbar included in Word. And I can choose when I want my customized toolbar to be visible or not.

But some of the buttons that I have included in my customized toolbar have the very annoying side effect of opening the default “Tables and Borders” toolbar automatically as soon as you click on them. This happens, for example, as soon as you click on the “Draw Table” button, which lets you use a pencil-like tool to add vertical or horizontal dividers to table cells. It also happens as soon as you use the pop-up “Line Weight” menu that lets you specify the stroke size for the border lines.

When I use these buttons, I do not need Word to show me the default “Tables and Borders” toolbar! Yet it insists on doing so. Fortunately, there is a way to turn this behaviour off. Go to the VisualBasic Editor (macro editor), open the “Immediate Window” (in the “View” menu), and type the following:

CommandBars("Tables and Borders").Enabled = False

followed by the Return key.

This will effectively remove the “Tables and Borders” toolbar from your Word interface entirely. It will no longer appear in the “Toolbars” submenu in the “View” menu, and it will no longer appear every time you use one of the buttons mentioned above.

The same trick can be used to disable other toolbars that get in your way, such as the “Web” toolbar. Unfortunately, you cannot disable the automatic behaviour without removing the toolbar from the interface completely. In other words, you cannot keep the toolbar in question in the “Toolbars” submenu in the “View” menu. If you disable it, it’s completely gone. With Microsoft, there’s no middle ground. That would be too user-friendly.

Every pro-level Word user knows that Word MVPs, who are, for all intents and purposes, Microsoft’s official voice on the Microsoft-sponsored Office newsgroups, all recommend that, if you choose to customize your Word environment, you should not attempt to customize Word’s existing toolbars, but create your own and hide Word’s default toolbars. The reason for this is fairly simple: user-created toolbars are much easier to transfer from template to template using the Organizer tool. If you ever need to trash your templates (including the “Normal” template) because of some kind of document corruption, then if you have created your own toolbars instead of customizing Word’s existing toolbars, it’ll be much easier for you to rebuild your work environment.

Given that Microsoft’s own MVPs recommend that you do this, you’d think that Microsoft would have disabled these automatic behaviours that cause Word’s default toolbars to appear even when you don’t want them, right? Well, think again. This is Microsoft. Their products are designed to continue to annoy you to no end no matter how much effort you put into customizing them and taming them.

What I didn’t mention above is that clicking on the “Draw Table” or “Line Weight” buttons doesn’t just cause the default “Tables and Borders” toolbar to appear. It also automatically switches you to Page Layout view mode if you are in Normal view mode. Never mind the fact that you may have perfectly legitimate reasons to change the line weight or draw a vertical line in situations that do not require a switch to the Page Layout view mode at all. No. Microsoft engineers know best, and they’ll switch you to Page Layout view mode anyway, whether you like it or not.

What makes this doubly annoying is that, as far as I know, there is no way to prevent the view mode switch from happening. You can’t disable it like you can disable the toolbars. Grr. Grr.

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