If you’re using the Office 2013/2016 desktop apps as your productivity tools of choice, then there’s a little trick you can use to make them easier to operate on touchscreens. If you’re using these applications on a touchscreen monitor or a Windows 10 tablet (like one of the Surfaces), it can improve your efficiency a notch or two.
The feature is a result of Microsoft’s frequently clumsy attempts to marry the old desktop Windows interface with the brand new, tile-based, touchscreen one. Windows 10 improves on Windows 8 in this respect, but it can still get messy at times. That’s why Microsoft offers both traditional desktop versions of its Office apps and simplified ‘mobile’ universal ones as well.
It’s the old desktop applications we’re interested in here. Fire up your choice of Word, Excel or PowerPoint, then click on the small drop-down Customise Quick Access Toolbar arrow at the very top on the left — this lets you choose which toggles and options are shown. Make sure Touch/Mouse Mode is ticked and the icon should appear just a little to the left (if it isn’t there already).
Click the new icon to choose between Mouse and Touch modes. The latter increases the spacing between icons and text on menus and the ribbon bar — all of the same options are present and correct, though some may disappear behind sub-menus. You’re then ready to use Office with less chance of hitting the wrong setting when you jab at the screen.
Note that any change you make automatically carries over to the other Office apps you have installed.