The Dumbest Windows Feature Ever: “Full Menus Off”

Many installations of Microsoft Office have “Full menus” disabled (it is the default setting when Office is installed). What does this mean? You will see only a few items on any menu you select (File, Edit, View, etc.). And, to find a menu command that you don’t use often or have never used before, you have to click the two downwards pointing chevrons at the bottom of the menu – this forces Windows to show all the available commands on that menu. You can also double-click the menu to expand it.

When you expand one menu, all of the menus are expanded until you choose a command or perform another action, and then you go back to short menus again.

But note, when you click on a command on the expanded menu, that command is immediately added to the short version of its menu – so you will see it next time you use that menu. So you will see a few more menu commands over time. However, if you do not use that command often, it will be dropped from the short version of the menu.

So you are really playing a twisted game of menu hide-and-seek. This has to be the dumbest MS Office and Windows feature ever. Duh! Why would you want hide menu items from yourself? I just can’t fathom what the Microsoft programmers were thinking of when they came up with this one. It just doesn’t make sense to make it harder and more time consuming to find and select the menu items you want and need – assuming you know what you are looking for – for those just learning to use Office you can’t even see what you don’t know you are looking for. Duh!!

Do yourself a favour and configure your installation of MS Office so full menus appear all the time. In any Office application, click on Tools, then Customize, then the Options tab, and check “Always show full menus”. Stop playing menu hide-and-seek – there are other computers games that are much more fun.


  1. There’s an old saying, I think it’s from the Latin: “90% of Word users use only 10% of the features.” Word is insanely complex. And for most of the menu-items, if you don’t know you need it, then you don’t need it.

    If it takes a little extra work to find the features you use rarely, imagine how much you might save by quickly finding the ones you use often.

  2. You clearly need one of those random “how to use MS Word and other simple Software Applications” seminar that they teach in CLE.

    I don’t want to see 47 menu items that I never use show up every time I click “File”.

    It is just software. It is not playing any games with you. You just have to not be paranoid and try to adapt.