Word.Tips.Net WordTips (Menu Interface)

Finding a Lost Menu Bar

Dave reported a situation in which one of his Word users had somehow completely lost the menu bar. Theoretically, the menu bar should not be "losable," so when such an event does occur, it is a good sign that something is wrong.

There are a few things you can check. First, because the menu bar is treated pretty much like a toolbar, it is possible to undock it and move it anywhere desired on the screen. If you run Windows at a high resolution, undock the menu bar and move it to the far right of the screen, and then change to a lower resolution in Windows, it is possible that the menu bar won't be visible because it is now outside the area of the screen you can see.

If you suspect this is the case, trying changing back to the higher resolution—just temporarily—and moving the menu bar back where it belongs. When you later switch to the lower resolution, the menu bar should still be visible.

If this doesn't do it, try these steps:

  1. Choose Customize from the Tools menu. Word displays the Customize dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Toolbars tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Toolbars tab of the Customize dialog box.

  4. Scroll down the list of available toolbars until you see the Menu Bar option.
  5. It should be impossible to uncheck the check box beside the Menu Bar option, but you can still select the option. Do so and click the Reset button. Word displays a dialog box asking if you want to reset changes to the menu bar. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Reset Toolbar dialog box.

  7. Click Yes.

Hopefully, this will display your menu bar. If it doesn't, try starting Word from the command line with the /a switch. Depending on the problem that may be causing the missing menu bar, this could trigger Word to do some repairs to itself. You can also try exiting Word and deleting or renaming the Normal.dot file, which is the default location for saving many customizations in Word.

If the menu bar is still not visible, there is one other macro-based solution you can try. Run the following macro:

Sub FindBars()
    Dim cb As CommandBar
    For Each cb In Application.CommandBars
        If cb.Position = msoBarFloating And cb.Visible = True Then
            cb.Position = msoBarTop
        End If
End Sub

This macro steps through every one of the command bars (which means both menu bars and toolbars) and, if they are floating and visible, puts them back in their default position at the top of the Word window.

If you are wondering how you can run the macro when you cannot get to the VBA Editor by using menus you cannot see, remember that you can display the Macros dialog box by pressing Alt+F8, or you can jump directly to the VBA Editor by pressing Alt+F11.

If you continue to have problems with the menu bar, then more drastic action is necessary. There is an excellent article at the Word MVP site that indicates some of the steps (including the drastic ones) that you can take:


WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (59) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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Comments for this tip:

Kay    23 Mar 2015, 19:12
I have lost the top menu bar on Word 2000 that lets me slect bold, underline, script, italic etc. I have it set on standard as I was instructed and still gone. Have no idea how this happened but need it back to use Word to compose. Thank you.
Ad    02 Mar 2015, 00:49
I used Alt - F8 and got back the menu and toolbar but lost Word = just a grey area w/o typing ability. There was a "W" in toolbar. I clicked on "W" and got back a white page but without a toolbar.
Kevin    10 Jan 2015, 23:51
Dear Allen, This was fantastic! I had completely lost my "page setup" on the File button dropdown. I did the check on the Menu Bar, clicked the Reset button, and VOILA! there it was, after two months disappeared. Thank you so much!
Carole    19 Nov 2014, 11:19
Help - I click the start menu then the Work 2003 icon and nothing happens.

I have to open another word doc then get a blank page to use the software

I have even tried going into programmes but it still does nothing

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