Customizing Apache OpenOffice

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Customizing toolbars

Documentation note.png Using the Alt key to drag icons on the toolbars does not work in 2.0. The other concepts for customizing the toolbars in Apache OpenOffice are similar to those in Microsoft Office. The specific steps are outlined below.

Customizing toolbars

You can get to the toolbar customization menu in three ways:

  • Tools → Customize → Toolbars tab.
  • Click the arrow at the end of any toolbar and choose Customize Toolbar.
  • View → Toolbars → Customize Toolbars tab (same as Microsoft Office).

Figure 1: The Toolbars tab of the Customize window

However, rather than dragging buttons onto the toolbar as is required in Microsoft Office, you need to use the Customize dialog:

  1. OpenOffice <name of the program (example: Writer) > Toolbars: Activate the drop-down list to select the toolbar.
  2. Toolbar Content: The checkboxes determine whether the button gets displayed or not.
  3. The Move Up or Move Down buttons change the order.
  4. If the function you require is not already listed for the toolbar, use the  Add  button to insert it.
  5. Use  Modify  for things like changing an icon, renaming, or restoring the default settings.
Documentation note.png There is no in-built tool-button editor. To use a custom icon, save it to the {install path}/share/config/symbol directory in *.bmp format. Apache OpenOffice automatically searches this directory for new icons each time the Customize Buttons dialog is opened. Custom icons must be 16 x 16 pixels in size and cannot contain more than 256 colors.

Creating a new toolbar

To create a new toolbar:

  1. Select Tools → Customize → Toolbars tab.
  2. Click  New  to display a dialog where you can name the new toolbar. Click  OK .
  3. Customize the new toolbar as above.

Customizing menus

Customizing menus is not significantly different in Apache OpenOffice than in Microsoft Office. The specific steps are outlined below. You can even set the menu font to be the font used by the system.

Customizing menu content

To customize menu content:

  1. Select Tools → Customize → Menus tab (Figure 2).
  2. In the Save In drop-down list, choose whether to save this changed menu for the application (for example, Writer) or for a selected document.
  3. In OpenOffice <name of the program (example: Writer) > Menus, select the menu you want to customize in the Menu drop-down list.

Figure 2. The Menus tab of the Customize dialog

To add a function:

  1. Menu Content: Select the top level menu entry.
  2. Click the  Add  button.
  3. Select in the Add Commands dialog the new menu item using the Category and Command list boxes.
  4. Click  Add  to insert that function into the menu. When finished, click  Close .

Customizing the menu font

The font used in Apache OpenOffice for menus is different from that used in Microsoft Office, which is the system font. If you want to change the font to the one used in Office:

  1. Tools → Options → OpenOffice → View.
  2. Check Use system font for user interface.
  3. Click  OK .

Customizing shortcut keys

Customizing shortcut keys requires a different procedure from that used in Microsoft Office. In Apache OpenOffice use the following steps:

  1. Tools → Customize → Keyboard tab.
  2. On the Keyboard tab of the Customize dialog (Figure 3), select the desired shortcut key in the top list box labeled Shortcut keys.
    Figure 3: Defining keyboard shortcuts for applying styles
  3. Select the Category, for the command, and the actual Function in the bottom list boxes.
  4. In the top right corner of the dialog, select whether the shortcut key is to be AOo-wide or just for the current application (Writer for example).
  5. Click  Modify .

Customizing word entry and editing


A feature in Apache OpenOffice is the ability to have exceptions for AutoCorrect/AutoFormat rules. For example, you can have “Correct TWo INitial Capitals” in operation but exclude situations where two capitals are desired, like AOo. To set up exceptions:

  1. Tools → AutoCorrect.
  2. Click on the Exceptions tab.
  3. Click in the textbox and enter your item. Click  New .

Figure 4: Exceptions tab of AutoCorrect dialog

Undo and redo

To specify how many “undos” are available:

Tools → Options → OpenOffice → Memory → Number of steps.

Checking spelling

To set up the Spellcheck options in OpenOffice, use:

Tools → Options → Language Settings → Writing Aids

The Spellcheck options are consistent across all Apache OpenOffice applications.

Documentation note.png Unlike the default dictionaries, custom dictionaries are not compressed. Using too many custom dictionaries, or those containing more than 1000 entries, reduces performance while proofing.

Security settings

To set up virus protection for macro and Java security settings, use:

Tools → Options → OpenOffice → Security

For other security-related issues, see Password Protection and Privacy Options in the chapter General Differences in Use between Apache OpenOffice and Microsoft Office.

Personal settings

To find out where these customizations are stored, use:

Tools → Options → OpenOffice → Paths

The dialog shows that the information, by default, is stored in a folder called “user”.

Storing configurations in a template

This section describes how to store changes to menus, keyboard shortcuts, the status bar and toolbars in a template so that the customizations are automatically loaded when you work on a document based on that template.

  1. Create and save the template that is to have the configurations saved into it. A back-up of the template, without the configuration changes, is a good precaution too.
  2. Make the desired changes to the configuration. (See “Customizing menus”, “Customizing toolbars” and “Customizing shortcut keys above.) Note that any changes you do not want as standard will have to be undone.
  3. Tools → Customize.
  4. At each step of customization of the template, that is for each tab of the dialog that you want to change, choose the desired template (the one first created and saved in step 1) and click  Save .
  5. Overwrite the file—the warning message that is displayed can be ignored.
  6. Undo the pre-existing changes that are not wanted (as was noted in step 2).
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