The Wonderful Work Menu

At a recent Master Class seminar I held (for an accounting application), I found that one of the utilities I used to provide information generated as much interest as the information I presented about the software under discussion. In fact, for the IT professionals who were attending the class, this utility was more interesting than any of the software tips and solutions I presented during the class.

What provoked this interest? The way that I opened documents in Microsoft Word. After I discussed a particularly complicated feature, I opened an instructional document in Word and printed copies so attendees who wanted the instructions could collect the document from the printer. I had seven instructional documents, but to open them, I didn’t have to use the standard File, Open command, nor navigate through My Documents--I opened each document with a single click from my Work menu.

The Work menu is one of the most useful functions in Word and is unknown to most IT pros (and to the folks who write the Help files for Word), but anyone who introduces it to users is thanked effusively. This is the Word "trick" that brands you as an expert!

The Work menu is a way to provide easy, one-click access to documents that you use frequently. These can be documents that you’ll be working on for an extended period of time (such as a complicated report or a training manual), or documents you use frequently (boilerplates, forms, schedules, and so on).

Send these instructions for creating a Work menu to your users and wait for the thank-you cards!

To place the Work menu on a toolbar in Word 2003 and earlier, use the following steps:

1. Choose Tools, Customize and move to the Commands tab of the Customize dialog box.
2. In the Categories pane, scroll down to select Built-in Menus.
3. In the Commands pane, scroll down to select the Work Command.
4. Drag the Work text to any toolbar (the Menu bar, the Standard toolbar, or the Formatting toolbar).

Now that the Work menu is available, you can add documents to the Work list (each document becomes a command in the Work menu). Whenever you open a document that you use frequently, click Work, Add to Work Menu.

Hereafter, when you need to open that document you can select it from the Work menu instead of navigating through the folders and files in your documents folder.

When a document is no longer needed as a Work menu command, remove it from the list as follows:

1. Press Alt-Ctrl-Hyphen (use the hyphen on the top row of the keyboard, not the number pad), which turns your cursor into a fat hyphen.
2. Choose Work and click the appropriate document to remove that document from the command list.

This feature isn't available in Microsoft Office Word 2007, but a similar feature is offered in that you can pin a document to the Recent Documents list. Once pinned, the document appears on the list until you remove it, regardless of how long it's been since you used it, or how many documents you opened since the last time you used it. Use the following steps to pin your oft-used documents to the Recent Documents list:

1. Open the document you want to pin to the list.
2. Click the Office button (at the top of the Window).
3. Hover your mouse over the pushpin icon (it's lying on its side).
4. Select Pin this document to the Recent Documents list (the document's listing includes the pushpin icon, which is no longer lying down).
5. Select Unpin this document when you want to remove it from the list.

One IT pro who distributed these instructions wrote to tell me about an additional advantage to this feature: Users no longer accidentally work on the wrong copy of a file. He told me that documents are stored on a central server, but sometimes users save a local copy so they can examine it (or think about it, or check their grammar, or whatever) and then accidentally load the local copy because they use the recent documents listed on the File menu. After the server-based copy becomes a command on the Work menu, or has a pushpin icon on the Recent Documents list, the user always selects the right file.