Adapting to Office 2007

I started using Office 2007 last Fall.  I liked Office 2003, knew my way around it pretty well, and had no intention of upgrading to Office 2007, but when I showed up to teach class on the first day of the semester, I found that the university had updated all the classroom computers to Office 2007.  I use Excel extensively in one of the courses I teach and it was near impossible to teach my class without first figuring out how to navigate the ribbon menuing system in Excel 2007.

After my first day of trying to “wing it,” I knew I was in trouble….I had to learn Excel 2007 and I had to learn it fast!  So I purchased Office 2007 and began updating my lecture materials right away. Now I demonstrate Excel 2007 in class and provide screenshots for students who are still using Excel 2003.  All-in-all it was a frustrating and time consuming experience.


Transitioning from Office 2003 (or an earlier version of Office) to Office 2007 (or a later version of Office) can be very frustrating.  Even after five months or using  Office 2007, I still spend way too much time hunting for the correct menu option to perform even simple tasks.  Along the way, I’ve learned a few things and found some useful tools.


Things I’ve Learned

  • Office 2003 shortcuts still work! If you learned the shortcuts, you’ll still be able to use them in Office 2007.
  • You can hide the ribbon, which takes up a good 1 inch of screen real estate, by moving your cursor up to any menu item and clicking your left mouse button twice.  Click the left mouse button twice again, and you’ll see the ribbon again.
  • You can customize the Quick Access Toolbar to add icons to the very top of the screen to access your more frequently used or favorite options.  Plan to spend some time setting up your Quick Access Toolbar.
    • Select the small down arrow found to the far right of the large Office Button (I’ve placed a red box around it in the picture below

Office2007002 :

    • Select the options shown in the ensuing menu or select “more options” to choose from a magnitude of options.


Some really basic but useful options I’ve placed in the Quick Access Toolbar in Word, Excel and PowerPoint include:

    • Set Print Area (Excel only)
    • Open
    • Save
    • Print Preview
    • Undo
    • Redo
    • Switch Window: Allows me to work with multiple open documents (the corresponding icon is the 4th from right in the previous picture)
  • While you are reviewing the Customize the Quick Access Toolbar options, spend some time exploring the other Options on that screen….you’ll find a wealth of options there.

Overcoming the Learning Curve

Microsoft has some online tools to help you find features and options.  If you select any of the links below, you will be taken to a page that should look familiar to you…..a mocked up Office 2003 application screen.  From there you can select the menu options you know and the tool will “translate” your key strokes into Office 2007 speak…..that is, the tool will point you to the right sequence of menu options in Office 2007 that will get you close to the function you wish to perform – you may still need to spend some minutes looking for the specific option.

I’m committed to learning how navigate around Office 2007, so I haven’t used this software, but you can buy software that will restore your Office 2007 ribbon menuing system to the classic Office 2003 menuing system.  See the link below to learn more about this software:

Classic Menu for Office 2007 (Addintools)

Overcoming Compatibility Issues

Documents that are created in Office 2007 are saved in a docx, xlsx, or pptx format.  These formats are generally more efficient, that is, their file size is quite a bit smaller than the older Office formats, but Office 2007 documents cannot be opened in the older versions of Office.  Here are some things you can do to overcome compatibility problems:

Making Office 2007 documents accessible to other devices:

If you are running Office 2007, you can make the files you create accessible to computers running older versions of Office and to most Pocket PCs by:

  • Saving individual documents to an older version through the Save As option (Select the Office Button >  Save As > choose the file type)
  • Changing the default file save option from Office 2007 format to Office 2003 format so all the documents you create in Office 2007 will automatically be saved in an older version of Office:
    • Select the Office Button, then Go to the Options page (the options link is found on the lower right hand side of the menu –  tried to get a screen print of it but it is a moving target….)
    • Select Save, then select the down arrow to the right of the box next to “Save files in this format:” and choose a suitable file type.

Opening Office 2007 documents in older software:

If you are running an older version of Office and need to open an Office 2007 document, you can download Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats.  This software converts Office 2007 documents into earlier formats (as early as Word or Excel 2000).

Pocket PCs and Office 2007

By default, Word or Excel documents that you create on your older Pocket PC are saved in a Pocket Word (psw) or Pocket Excel (pxl) format.  Office 2007 cannot open psw or pxl formatted files.  Furthermore, if you sync these files to a computer that runs Windows Vista, Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) has no way to convert these files from the Pocket format into an Office format that can be used with Office 2007.

If you wish to use Pocket PC created office documents on your computer running Office 2007, you can save these files on the Pocket PC as regular office formatted documents.

Pocket Word

  • Tap Tools > File > Save Document As
  • Tap the down arrow to the right of “Type”
  • Choose  Word 97/2000 Document or Excel 97/2000 Document, as appropriate

Microsoft Office Mobile 6.1

Microsoft recently released Office Mobile 6.1 which is compatible with Office 2007 files.  Microsoft Office Mobile 6.1 can only be run on the following devices:

  • Windows Mobile 5.0 with the Messaging and Security Feature Pack (build numbers higher than 14847).  To find the build number on your WM 5.0 device, tap Start > Settings >  System tab  > About


  • Windows Mobile 6 non-touch screen devices
  • Windows Mobile 6 touch screen devices

Microsoft released a free Office Mobile 6.1 upgrade for WM5.0 and WM6.0 devices that were already running an older version of Office Mobile.  The upgrade could not be installed on WM5.0 devices that run an earlier build than 14847 (this knocks out the rx1950, the hx2495, etc.), and the upgrade could not be installed to windows mobile 2003se or earlier mobile devices.  THIS UPGRADE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR ANY WINDOWS MOBILE DEVICE.

If your WM5.0 or WM6.0 Pocket PC does not currently run an older version of Office Mobile, you’ll need to purchase an alternative to Microsoft Office Mobile.

Alternatives to Microsoft Office Mobile

SoftMaker Office for Pocket PC is a superior suite of office applications (TextMaker, PlanMaker, and SoftMaker Presentations) that run on any Pocket PC with the StrongARM or Xscale CPU (this includes devices running the Pocket PC 2000 through the Windows Mobile 6.0 operating system).

What’s an Older Pocket PC to do?

Unfortunately, there is no way for an older Pocket PC that runs Windows Mobile 2002, Windows Mobile 2003, or WM5.0 with build earlier than 14847 to read Office 2007 files at this time.  You should save documents that you create on your computer and that you plan to work with on your Pocket PC in an Office 2003 format, and you should request that emailed documents be saved in an Office 2003 format.