I've written in the past about the approach we took to organizing options in Office 2007, including a misguided detour in creating an "expert mode."

Today I want to start a discussion of some of the options available in Word 2007 by sharing those settings you'll see on the first page as soon as you open Word Options.

The Options dialog boxes of each program have been reorganized and redesigned; they have a list of sections along the left side and the whole dialog box is resizable (as really most UI should be here in the 21st century.)

The first section of Options is called "Popular" and it contains the list of settings we think people are most likely to want to tweak. We know that although most people don't change options, to the extent that they do, user interface tweaks are the most popular kind of option to change. So we've organized the user interface options together into one section right at the top.

Word 2007 Options (click to enlarge)

Here are the Word options and what they do:

  • Show Mini Toolbar on selection: I've blogged about the Mini Toolbar (codename: floatie) many times. Basically, whenever you select text, a little ghosted toolbar appears and provides the most commonly used formatting features directly next to your cursor. If you don't like the appear-on-selection behavior, you can turn it off here. The Mini Toolbar will continue to show up as part of the context menu.

  • Enable Live Preview: As you hover over choices in a gallery or menu, Office shows exactly how the document would look if you applied the formatting or option. If you don't like this feature, you can turn it off here.

  • Show Developer tab in the Ribbon: Most people aren't developers and don't use the advanced functionality in the product aimed at developers. Turning these features off by default simplifies and shrinks the command space. If you do want to access these features, check this box and a "Developer" tab will appear in the Ribbon.

  • Open e-mail attachments in Full Screen Reading view: By default, when you open a Word attachment from e-mail, it opens in Word's full screen Reading View to help you get the maximum screen real-estate possible for the document along with the reviewing and annotation tools for marking it up. If you would rather have Word open up documents in the normal editing mode, you can uncheck this option.

  • Color Scheme: You can choose between Blue, Silver, and Black.

  • ScreenTip style: By default in Office 2007, we show little descriptions of what every feature is used for in the feature's tooltip along with little illustrative pictures and links directly to help for the feature. (Yes, tooltips are called ScreenTips in Office for some reason. Don't ask.) If you don't want these enhanced tooltips and want just normal "command name only" tooltips, you can switch back using this option. You can also turn off tooltips altogether. (Don't forget, even options have enhanced tooltips.)

  • Always Use ClearType: If you are running on Office on Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, Office text is rendered with ClearType regardless of the system setting. This is because all of the Office fonts have been optimized to run in ClearType but most people don't know about the setting in the OS. If you don't wish to use ClearType, you can turn it off here and Office will follow the system setting. If you are running Windows Vista, Office will always follow the system setting. (This option isn't listed in the picture above because I took it in Vista.)

  • User Name/Initials: These are used primarily for when you are reviewing a document. Your changes are annotated with your name and initials.

  • Language Settings: Office can be configured to write in many languages and, in some versions, can switch UI languages on the fly. All of this can be configured from the Language Settings dialog box.

Except for the Reading View option (which is Word-specific), each of these settings are available in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the Outlook editor.