Customizing Writer

You can customize menus, toolbars, and keyboard shortcuts in OpenOffice.org, and add new menus and toolbars. However, you cannot customize context (right-click) menus.

Other customizations are made easy by extensions that you can install from the OpenOffice.org website or from other providers.

This chapter describes some common customizations and extensions that you may wish to use.

Note: Customizations to menus and toolbars can be saved in a template. To do so, first save them in a document and then save the document as a template as described in Chapter 13.

Customizing menus and toolbars

In addition to changing the menu font (described here), you can add and rearrange items on the menu bar, add items to menus, and make other changes. Most people never want to do this, so I won’t go into the details here. You can find instructions in Chapter 14 (Customizing OpenOffice.org) of Getting Started with OpenOffice.org 3, available from the OpenOffice.org website or wiki.

Assigning shortcut keys

In addition to using the built-in keyboard shortcuts, you can define your own. You can assign shortcuts to standard OpenOffice.org functions or your own macros and save them for use with Writer or with the entire OpenOffice.org suite.

Caution: Be careful when reassigning your operating system’s or OpenOffice.org’s predefined shortcut keys. Many key assignments are universally understood shortcuts, such as F1 for Help, and are always expected to provide certain results. Although you can easily reset the shortcut key assignments to the OpenOffice.org defaults, changing some common shortcut keys can cause confusion, frustration and possible data loss or corruption, especially if other users share your computer.

To adapt shortcut keys to your needs, use the Customize dialog, as described below.

  1. Select Tools > Customize > Keyboard. The Customize dialog opens.
  2. To have the shortcut key assignment available only for Writer, select Writer in the upper right part of the dialog; otherwise select OpenOffice.org to make it available to all components.
  3. Next select the required function from the Category and Function lists.
  4. Now select the desired shortcut keys in the Shortcut keys list and click the Modify button at the upper right.
  5. Click OK to savet the change.

Notes

  1. All existing shortcut keys for the currently selected function are listed in the Keys selection box. If the Keys list is empty, it indicates that the chosen key combination is free for use. If it were not, and you wanted to reassign a shortcut key combination that is already in use, you must first delete the existing key.
  2. Shortcut keys that are greyed-out in the listing on the Customize dialog, such as F1 and F10, are not available for reassignment.
Customize Keyboard dialog

Customize Keyboard dialog

Saving changes to a file

Changes to the shortcut key assignments (and other configurations) can be saved in a keyboard configuration file for use at a later time, thus permitting you to create and apply different configurations as the need arises. To save keyboard shortcuts to a file:

  1. After making your keyboard shortcut assignments, click the Save button near the bottom right of the Customize dialog.
  2. In the Save Keyboard Configuration dialog, select All files from the Save as Type list.
  3. Next enter a name for the keyboard configuration file in the File name box, or select an existing file from the list. If you need to, browse to find a file from another location.
  4. Click Save. A confirmation dialog appears if you are about to overwrite an existing file, otherwise there will be no feedback and the file will be saved.

Loading a saved keyboard configuration

To load a saved keyboard configuration file and replace your existing configuration, click the Load button near the bottom right of the Customize dialog, and then select the configuration file from the Load Keyboard Configuration dialog.

Resetting the shortcut keys

To reset all of the keyboard shortcuts to their default values, click the Reset button near the bottom right of the Customize dialog. Use this feature with care as no confirmation dialog will be displayed; the defaults will be set without any further notice or user input.

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This book is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, version 3.0.

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One comment on “Customizing Writer
  1. Neil Peters says:

    Thanks for the great OpenOffice website! I’m a lifelong MSOffice user and have got to say I sometimes struggle with the way OpenOffice works. Especially Calc. I still use MS Office on my desktop but I have OpenOffice on my laptop.

    Thanks for the cool tips on creating shortcut keys. I’m off now to try them out

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