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This page last revised: 06 Jan 2024 23:47:34 -0500 .


Modifying the QAT in Word 2007-2021 (365)

See also, Microsoft Office Quick Access Toolbar - short video by BCTI - this may be all you need but please do read below on other places to save your customizations

See also Modifying the QAT and Ribbon in Microsoft Word. The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) provides for easy addition of commands to every editing screen in Word. QAT customizations can be stored in any template or document using Word itself or in a special file. QAT modifications that refer to something that is stored in a template or document are best stored in that template or document.

Here is Microsoft's support page on modifying the QAT in case you want to look at it. Not all of the information on it is correct, though. For instance, it says you cannot get a Styles dropdown on the QAT. Take a look at my Styles QAT Add-In or my 2003 WordArt Add-In to see several. The page also talks about icons for custom groups on the QAT without discussing how you get such groups to be there at all. It makes no mention of the ability to store modifications in particular templates or documents, either.

Last modified Tuesday, November 07, 2023.

Changing the Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick Access Toolbar lets you make changes and store those changes in any template (or document) or globally. If in a document template, those changes will apply to documents based on the template as well, even if the document no longer remains "Attached" to that template! In this way, it is like text in a document template. (Note, if the QAT modification is for a macro stored in the template, the template must remain attached for the macro to run.)

How to change -- Files that Hold Changes -- Storing Changes -- Modifying QAT Text and Icons -- Macintosh Notes -- Changes in Size / Limits since 2010 -- Show/Hide Labels -- QAT Missing / Hidden

Macros -- Building Blocks -- Groups, Galleries & Menus

You can do this customization by right-clicking on the Ribbon and picking the choice of Customize Quick Access Toolbar. (You can also use the drop-down at the right end of the QAT and choose "more commands.")

If you do that, the default is to store the customization in the application (all documents). This change is not stored in the normal template but in a separate file. There is only one such template per user on a computer. If you replace it, you replace all customizations to the QAT and, in recent versions, to the Ribbon. Use the dialog instead.

The Customize Quick Access toolbar has been removed from these menus in recent versions. On the Windows version it can still be accessed though File > Options as shown below. You can quickly get to this by right-clicking on any Ribbon Tab and choosing Customize the Ribbon. Then shift one down in the Options tab to get to Customize Quick Access Toolbar.

If you wish to store in a particular document or template, you must designate that storage location. This is done in a window in the top right of the modification dialog. You will have two choices: "For all documents" or whatever the currently active template or document is. Note, one of the choices is not the template attached to the currently open document. Nor can you choose currently loaded global templates which are not open for editing nor other open documents; only the currently active document or template (the one you would be typing in if you were not modifying the QAT). The attached template is not an option.

Word 2010 QAT Modification Menu (shown above)

The window on the right will show modifications stored in the template or document. If the default is chosen, it will show the ones stored there. If the template/document being edited is chosen, it will show the choices stored in that file.


Word 2013 QAT Modification Menu (shown above)

Using Custom Images on the QAT

Generally there are limited images available for the icons on the QAT. If you copy a command from the Ribbon, it will come with an image; that image generally cannot be modified from within Word. If you choose a command not on the Ribbon or a macro, you can usually modify the icon by choosing from a limited set. If you want more than that, you are going to have to do some XML modification of the Ribbon. This is going to take either a customization of the QAT modification file or creating custom ribbon tab(s) with the images as noted above.

If you want to customize QAT images, I recommend starting with Greg Maxey's page: Modify QAT\Ribbon Button Images\Labels. Note that you can use these techniques on the files that hold customizations directly. That is, they are already xml files. You just need to change the extension to .txt to edit them.

Note that the as far as I know, if you add a building blocks gallery to the QAT, nothing about it can be modified.

Adding Macros to the QAT

Important note: If you are adding macros to your QAT, the QAT modification for that macro should be stored in the same template that has the macro. That way, the QAT button will only show up when the macro is available.

You can choose macros in "Choose Commands from" in the upper left of the customize dialog. Recorded macros are always in the NewMacros module, but that is probably not where you actually want to keep them. If you are going to put the macro you want on your QAT in a different module, do that before adding it to the QAT.

Macros stored in the normal template (default storage location for recorded macros) will be in the "Normal" project. Those stored in other templates will be in the "Template" or "TemplateProject" module. I try to rename these modules to more meaningful names before putting macros on the QAT.

When displayed in the QAT modification dialog, macros are shown by their project, module, and name, in that order. This can make for long names. For instance a macro that you record with the name MyMacro and save in the default location will show up in the list as Normal.NewMacros.MyMacro. Note that you can resize the dialog itself. You may need to make it wider to find your macros.

Here are screenshots from the (resized) dialog to modify the QAT and from the VBA Editor (Alt+F11) for the corresponding macros.

Note in the lower left of the VBA Editor screenshot the "Property" Name. This is where you change the names of projects or modules in VBA.

Macros not in Normal.dotm - To access macros not in Normal.dotm, the template or document holding the macros must be open for editing and be the ActiveDocument in vba jargon. This should be fine, because that is the template that should hold the QAT customization, anyway.

See also Greg Maxey's page: Create Macro and Add to Quick Access Toolbar

Files that hold QAT customizations

Unless QAT customizations are stored in a particular document or template, they are stored in the Word.qat (Word 2007) or Word.OfficeUI (Office 2010-21/365) files. These are the default storage files. Note these customizations are not stored in the Normal template. Word 2010 - Word 2021 will use the same file but using both versions has been reported to scramble the order in which QAT modifications are displayed. While you can store QAT modifications elsewhere, you cannot change the default storage locations.

Beginning in the year 2018, the Word.OfficeUI file also stores ribbon modifications.

These default files are stored in the following location:

bulletIn Windows XP C:\Documents and Settings\ user name \Application Data\Microsoft\Office
bulletIn Windows Vista or in Windows 7/8/10/11 C:\Users\ user name \AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office
bulletOn a Mac, I suspect the location is
/Users/<Your Login Name>/Library/Containers/
or ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office
bulletOffice 2013-2021/365 shares the QAT file with Office 2010 (same name and location).

Where to Store QAT customizations

Default QAT Files: If the modification is only for your personal use and you do not care if you can move it to another computer or a new version of Word, you can store it in the default location. This is certainly the easiest place to store a modification, short term. I will sometimes store modifications there if I make them for a single Word session. I also remove the standard QAT entries from the default files and put them in a  custom global template instead so they are there, in the same place, on all systems that use that global, without duplication.

Document or Template: My preference is to store QAT additions in a template. To store a QAT addition in a template, that template must be open for editing. One might assume that you can also store modifications in the attached template for an open document; that assumption would be wrong, though. The template, itself, must be open for editing. This means storing the modifications in a template generally requires the extra step of opening the template itself. This includes the Normal.dotm template!

Note that if stored in a document template, the modification does not transfer to a document based on the template. It is available so long as the template containing the modification remains attached to the document but won't be there if you send the document to someone else. If stored in the document, it will travel with the document.

Global Template in Startup Folder: If it is to be used in all documents, I will store it in a Global Template that is placed in the Word Startup Folder. If the template contains macros it must be a .dotm file in the Startup Folder. If it contains no macros it may be a .dotx file. Again, if you want to change QAT modifications stored in such a template, it must be open for editing. This includes the Normal.dotm template!

QAT Links to Macros: If the modifications have to do with macros, the macros and the QAT modifications should be stored in the same .dotm template. (In earlier versions of Word, this would be toolbars rather than QAT modifications.)

QAT Links to Galleries Stored in Templates: If the QAT modification has to do with a gallery stored in a custom template (global or document) the QAT modification should be stored in the same template.

Document Template: If the modification is for use with a particular document template and its attached documents, the modifications should be stored in that template.

Document: In rare cases, I put a QAT modification in a document. I generally do this if the modification is for use only with that document or if I intend to share the document with someone who would not have the template that contains the QAT modification and I want that someone to be able to use the modification. Again, this is rare; I mention it because it is possible to do.

Removing QAT entries: If multiple files are used to hold Quick Access Toolbar modifications, those modifications are cumulative. If a QAT entry is in any file, especially the Word.qat or Word.OfficeUI file, it cannot be removed from the QAT in a different file, at least not through the Word Interface. That is, if you want to remove a standard QAT entry, that change must be stored in the storage location where the entry is kept. You can do this with the default storage locations from any document. For entries stored elsewhere, the storage location must be open for editing and the "active document."


Modifying Text and Icons in the QAT

The Word Interface gives limited ability to modify icons and the text displayed when you hover the mouse pointer over the icon. This comes from the Modify button which is active when you have selected QAT item. The selection of icons is limited and some commands cannot be modified using this method.


When you add your custom feature to the QAT, if it also has a Keyboard Shortcut that will activate it, you can include that shortcut with the display text. This is the norm with built-in features. If you have created a keyboard shortcut for a macro, it is important that the shortcut, like the QAT modification, be in the same file that contains the macro. Here are examples of built-in features on the QAT showing shortcut alternatives. This can be done directly through the user interface in Word.

Greg Maxey has an excellent page on this which shows methods that have much more power and flexibility than is available directly in the Word interface. That modification is not done through the user interface directly; modification involves writing XML without the need for also writing vba callbacks. Using XML, you can change the Icon, the Label and add a "supertip" of additional text.

Modify Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) Button Image or Text

Again, to modify QAT customizations stored in a document or template you must follow the steps outlined to unpack the XML of the document or template. There are directions given in the last link on how to do that. To modify customizations stored in Word.qat, Word.OfficeUI, or Word14.CustomUI you need to change the extension to .txt. My recommendation would be to append the .txt extension (Word.qat.txt, Word.OfficeUI.txt, Word14.CustomUI.txt, Word16.CustomUI.txt) to make it easy to change back. I always work on a copy or with a copy so that if I make an error, I can return to my starting point.

You can also do this through full-blown ribbon modification with vba callbacks but the QAT is one of the more difficult areas to modify in a full ribbon modification and is one of the easier areas to make flexible modifications through the UI. (Your author has not attempted the modification with callbacks, being able to get what is needed through simply modifying the XML.)

Adding Ribbon Groups to the QAT

With the advent of changes to the interface in Word 2016, the QAT is more spread out, making it harder to fit everything on the QAT, especially in a single row. It is also possible to add "Groups" from any Ribbon tab. To do this, right-click on the group and choose to add. If done in a template with a custom ribbon with one of your custom groups, the QAT customization will be stored in the template. The image shows up as the blank circle. That image can also be changed. You can also add a label and supertip. Modify Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) Button Image or Text

Order of Icons on the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT)

When you add something to your QAT, by default it will be placed on the right end of the toolbar. In the Modify the QAT dialog that would be the bottom of the list. You can move things up and down in that list, which moves them to the right or left on the toolbar. If you have more icons than fit on your screen in one row, a more button with two triangles appears at the far right. When you press that button, a second row of icons may appear. If that does not hold all of the icons in your QAT, the second row can be scrolled right and left when active.

If you use the default file as your storage location and use both Word 2010 and 2013, they use the same file and Word 2013 likes to scramble the icons. It does not do this if you store the toolbar modifications in a separate template. I have not noticed this with Word 2016 and 2010.

If you have modifications stored in multiple files they will be loaded onto the toolbar in groups by file. Those in the default file will be on the far left, followed by those in other files according to the alphabetical order of the holding Add-In files.

General order:

  1. Icons in the default customization file
  2. Icons in global templates other than normal (in alphabetical order by template name)
  3. Icons in the normal template
  4. Icons in the current document's attached template
  5. Icons in the current document

For example:A

bulletDefault file holds icons A, B, X, Z in that order.
bulletGlobal Holder file SomeIcons.dotx holds icons E, P, U, M in  that order.
bulletNormal.dotm holds icons Q, J, N in that order
bulletGlobal Holder file MyIcons.dotx holds icons F, H, L, C in that order.

The icons will appear on the toolbar as:

A, B, X, Z, F, H, L, C, E, P, U, M, Q, J, N

This is true even if MyIcons.dotx is loaded as an Add-In after SomeIcons.dotx.

If you use multiple files to hold icons, the separator character can be especially helpful in marking groups of icons on the toolbar. This is available on the dialog as <Separator>.

Again, if both Word 2010 and 2013 are active on the same computer, use of Word 2013 can scramble the order of icons in the default file Word.OfficeUI. I've noticed this when Word 2013 is used to modify the QAT. I do not know whether Word 2016 does this.

If in the above example, you also had icons D, R, and N stored in a document template named ATemplate.dotx (rather than an Add-In) and that template is attached to the active document, the order would be:

A, B, X, Z, F, H, L, C, E, P, U, M, Q, J, N, D, R, N

The icons get added to the right end of the toolbar without regard to the name of the containing document template. That is, if an icon is added to a document's attached template, it will appear on the far right end of the QAT, behind those stored in global templates. Any stored in the document, itself, will display at the end.

Adding Ribbon Commands to the QAT

Ouick Way - Right Click on a Ribbon Command

I do not recommend this because it stores your modification in the general file rather than in a specific customization template. Nevertheless, if you are just doing it for yourself, it works.

Right-click on any command on the Ribbon and tell Word to put it on the QAT.

This will copy both the command and the related icon to the QAT. This is true whether it is a Ribbon Tab command built into Word or on a customized Ribbon Tab. Again, it will store it in the general store for QAT customizations.

Better Way - Use the More Commands method and store it in a custom template.

This is especially true if you are talking about customized commands that are already in a template like macros. You want to store those commands in the same template that holds your other customizations. To do this, you must have that template open for editing on your screen.

See Modifying Text and Icons above. Once you have the Customize the Quick Access Toolbar dialog open, you can select any available ribbon tabs and copy commands from that tab onto the QAT attached to the open template.

The screenshot above is for a custom tab. Note that this is storing the modifications in the file that holds the custom tab. If you only want commands on the QAT, it is possible to modify the custom tab in XML to make it not visible. The QAT icons will remain active and available.

Storing Ribbon Commands on the QAT directly

If, instead of just right-clicking on the Ribbon, you right-click on a particular command or button on the Ribbon, you get an option to Add that Command to the QAT. The dialog below is from Word 2010 with a custom Ribbon tab.

The option to Customize the Ribbon... does not appear in Word 2007. If you choose to Add to the Quick Access Toolbar the command will be placed in the next available spot and stored in the general QAT customizations. If you choose Customize the Quick Access Toolbar, you will have the ability to position the command you are adding and choose where to store the customizations. For a simple demonstration of the power and limitations of adding a button to the QAT in a template/document, see Send as PDF button in Word Body.

Adding Groups/Galleries/Menus to the QAT

You can easily add a group or gallery to the QAT if it is already on a Ribbon tab.


To add something already on a Ribbon to the QAT right-click on it and select Add to Quick Access Toolbar or (better) use the Modify the QAT dialog.


Changes in the QAT Appearance/Size since Word 2010

The QAT since Word 2007 has always been a single row with the ability to show one more row with a mouse click at the end. However, how much it will hold has diminished since Word 2010. Here is a comparison with the same QAT. Everything fits on one row in Word 2010 and in Word 2013 in mouse mode. Othewise, it is wrapped.

Word 2013 introduced touch mode to spread ribbon buttons and QAT icons. Even in Mouse Mode, though, the icons are larger and there is not room for as many. Word 2016 is substantially bigger/wider, even in mouse mode. Word 2016 - 2019 also added the AutoSave button as nearly mandatory, taking more real estate.  With regular icons/buttons there is room in Word 2010 for 57 icons. In Word 2016-19 room for only 27 when in touch mode!

If you feel that the mouse mode at least should go back to Word 2010 size and spacing, you can vote and comment on the Feedback Hub.

Touch Mode changes the Ribbon as well as the QAT. See this page for more.

In 2021 the "New Experience" made the icons larger and even more apart. The AutoSave and Save buttons are moved to the Title Bar. This is applied to Word 2016-2021 and 365, also on Windows 11.

New Experience / Visual Refresh Preview - Show Labels

Sometime in early 2022, Microsoft introduced the "New Experience" to Office users. This is optional for many users.

If you are seeing these labels and do not want them, you can use the drop-down at the right end of the QAT to hide them.

If you want to get rid of the New Experience (or turn it on) the control starts in the title bar. Image

The procedure is described in my November 19 response in this thread: Problem with [quick] Styles Gallery display change. Changing in or out of the New Experience is likely temporary and is not available in the perpetual license versions of Office. (As of October 1, 2023, the ability to stop this has been removed.)


QAT Missing / Hidden

In 2021, Office added the ability to hide the QAT. You can get it back by using the Ribbon hide menu. This is in versions of Word using the "New Experience" or "Visual Refresh Preview." In this, the default is to have the QAT not displayed!

(You can hide it using the dropdown at the right end of the QAT.)

For more on the "New Experience," see New Experience / Visual Refresh Preview - Microsoft Office - Office 365 - Turning it on and off.

There are also a few views that do not show the QAT. See Minimizing Ribbon / AutoHiding Ribbon / Toggling Toolbars.


Word 2016-2021/365 for the Mac

See Customize the Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar

It does not appear that modifications to the QAT on the Mac can be assigned to specific documents or templates as they can in Windows.

Modify the Quick Action Toolbar - QAT - Mac

I do not know what happens on the Mac if you open a document that has a customized QAT created in Windows. I suspect that it will work, at least with Word's built in commands.

I have it on good authority that, as of May 2020, in the Mac versions, the icons on the QAT cannot be modified by XML modification.


I am sometimes asked what my QAT looks like. Here is the current one in Word 2013.

The actual QAT is a single line, cut here for display purposes. Many of the "tooltips" are shown. The "QAT help" inverted exclamation point opens a document about many of the modifications and their sources. This QAT is generated from at least 5 different global templates. Only the first two icons are in the default storage file. The containing files have documentation about what each icon does.

XML Modification Example

Here is a macro-free template with both Ribbon and QAT modification. The Ribbon modifications were made using the Custom UI Editor. The QAT modifications were made first through the interface. Then those changes were tweaked in XML. The code is given in the template.

Video on QAT Modification by Deborah Savadra



As you may be able to tell, this page is a work in progress. As I learn more, I'll share it here, time allowing.

Charles Kenyon 07 November 2023. 


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