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Changes to Toolbars aren't Persistent

Jack has a system that has Word 2003 installed on it. He is trying to make changes to the Standard and Formatting toolbars, but whenever he quits Word and restarts, those changes are all gone—the toolbars are back to their default conditions.

There are a couple of things that could be causing the problem. First, it is important to understand that changes to the toolbars are stored in the Normal.dot template file. If the template is not saved, then the changes won't be persistent; they won't be available the next time you use Word.

If you are working on a network, you need to check to see if your Normal.dot file has been configured to reside on a shared network drive. If so, the file could be overwritten by others on your network who are using the same file. It is also possible that the file is on a protected network directory so that it cannot be changed. If either of these is a possibility, talk to your network admin and see what can be done to use your own Normal.dot instead of the same as everyone else.

The more likely problem, however, is that you may have a problematic version of Adobe Acrobat on your system. Some versions of Acrobat have this annoying habit of ensuring that any changes you've made to Normal.dot are not saved automatically. Instead, you need to explicitly save the changes. One way to do this is to make sure you use Save All after making changes to your toolbars. To see this command, hold down the Shift key as you click the File menu. You'll notice that the Save command has been replaced with Save All. Select this option, and the currently open document is saved, along with any templates—including Normal.dot.

If you prefer, you can add the Save All option to your File menu so that it appears all the time. Follow these steps:

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

  4. In the Categories list, select File. The items in the Commands list change to reflect your choice.
  5. Scroll through the Commands list and choose Save All.
  6. Use the mouse to Drag the Save All option to the place you want it to appear on the File menu.
  7. Close the Customize dialog box.

Now, it is important that you click the new Save All command right away. Why? Because you've just made a configuration change that is saved in Normal.dot. If you exit Word without making sure that Normal.dot is saved (by clicking Save All), then the change isn't saved, and the next time you start Word the menu will be back to normal.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (342) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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Comments for this tip:

Andrew    18 Sep 2016, 11:22
You saved my day! Many thanks!
Adi    04 May 2016, 04:12
thanks, it worked
avus    24 Sep 2015, 13:05
this did not work for me. I got the save all on the file menu but I can't save it. When I close the customize button it doesn't save my settings.
Vladimir    18 Apr 2015, 06:42
Many thanks, it worked! How would you know without this tip...
Susan    25 Jul 2014, 16:16
OH forgot to mention, I'm on Windows Vista Home Premium and using MS Office 2003 (tools work in the other things - like Excel)
Susan    25 Jul 2014, 16:15
I really hoped this would solve my problem, but it didn't :(

All of a sudden my Word 2003 Tools have stopped working. When I go to the menu bar and click on tools, none of the tools in the dropdown box are highlighted when I point to them nor will they work when I click on them.

I can use the shortcut keys that some of them have and then they work, but I can't pick them from the Tools menu.

Also, I can to into customize under the Customize tab, pick tools up at the top, go into the individual tools and pick one (any one doesn't matter which) and click "reset"
Then the tools will work, but when I shut down Word and reopen, they're not working again.

So I thought the "save all" instruction above would do it! But, alas, it didn't. :(

I don't know what else to do, I've tried everything everyone has suggested. I've even reinstalled office from the cd. All to no avail. I found normal in my files and deleted it. nope. sigh.

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