Apache OpenOffice User Interface
As shown below, all Apache OpenOffice applications share a similar menu structure, with several identical entries.
These menus provide all the main functions available on the program: file creation, editing, formatting, configuration, and so forth.
- File: Commands that relate to the entire file. You can open, save, print or create new documents from this menu. Additional options include exporting the current document to different formats, digital signatures, templates, wizards, and preview.
- Edit: Editing commands such as copy, paste, undo, and selection. Additional commands are specific to application, such as AutoText in Writer, Points in Impress and Draw and Cells in Calc.
- View: Document view options such as layouts, toolbars, and zoom. Most of the applications have specific view commands.
- Insert: Insert content, either internal to the file (page numbers, cross references) or external (pictures, video or sound). You can also use this menu to give structure to the document such as add sections on Writer, pages on Draw, or slides on Impress.
- Format: Formatting commands for text and access to the styles editor. More formatting options available per type of document.
- Tools: Configuration options, either for the program as a whole (extension manager, autocorrect options) or for the document (language, outline).
- Window: Provides a list of all opened documents to select between, or create a new instance of the document.
- Help: Access to the help system bundled with the program, search for updates and information about the installed version.
The different components of Apache OpenOffice offer additional menus, specific to that component. Everything will be considered on the corresponding sections of this guide.
You can modify the existing menus, eliminating entries or creating new ones. To customize go to Tools → Customize → Menus. From here you can choose to add entries, modify, delete or rearrange your menus.
With a right click on a picture, word or any other object in the document, or on a toolbar icon, Apache OpenOffice will show a menu with actions related with that element. For example, a right click on a misspelled word brings the spell-checker options while a right click on a toolbar offers several options to customize it.
Contextual menus cannot be edited from the user interface, but some extensions can modify them.
A toolbar is a graphical element with several icons that can be used to easily activate several functions.
As you can see from the screenshot (taken on Writer), there are several kinds of icons: some offers drop down menus (the first top left used to create new documents from the default template), others show text (the name of the paragraph style in use, the font and its size) while the rest offer direct functions, like save the current document.
The list of available toolbars is on View → Toolbars. On this menu it is possible to activate used toolbars as well as deactivate those present on the user interface.
Fixed and Contextual Toolbars
There are two kinds of toolbars: “normal” toolbars that once they are activated they are always visible and “contextual” toolbars that are shown only when an object on which that toolbar can be used is selected. Examples of contextual toolbars are the bullet and numbering toolbar, the table toolbar, the picture properties, and so on.
Floating and Anchored Toolbars
It is possible to have toolbars floating on an independent window or anchored to one of the edit area borders. To change between floating and anchored toolbars, it is enough to drag it with the mouse and move it: if the toolbar is floating and we approach it to a border it will anchor, and if the toolbar is anchored and we move it outside the borders it will become floating.
When we are trying to anchor a toolbar and see a dotted line, it is possible to drop it.
Under Tools → Customize → Toolbars tab it is possible to edit existing toolbars (toggle elements, add new ones, change their icons...) as well as create new ones.
On the contextual menu, available with a right click on a toolbar, it is possible to quickly select which buttons are visible or to access the toolbar properties.
It is important to note that it is possible to save the new toolbars on a document: this way the new toolbar will only be available when working on that particular document/template.
In the lower part of the application, it is possible to find information about the current document. For example, on Writer it is possible to see, from left to right: the actual page number, the page style, the language for the text on which the cursor is placed, the cursor mode (INSRT to insert text normally, one click will change it to OVER to overwrite the text) the selection mode (STD for standard, EXT for "extended"...) while to the right it is possible to find a tool to control the document zoom, if two pages are displayed at once or only one, and so forth.
Starting on Apache OpenOffice 4.0, there is a new interface element to access functions on the different components: The Side Bar, visible to the right side on the following screen shot
The side bar is separated on "decks", which are separated on "content panels" according to the following nomenclature:
- Name of the feature and name of the control including all its components (icon bar, content panels).
- Also known as task pane(l) or tool pane(l)
- tab bar
- Similar to a vertical tool bar. Clicking on buttons switches between sidebar decks. The button on top of it is a drop down menu that offers some configuration options, like enabling/disabling decks, undock/dock the sidebar, etcetera.
- Contains one or more content panels. Only one deck is visible at any one time.
- content panel
- Displays information about the document and/or provides the means for document modification.
- Each content panel focuses on one topic like font, table or shape properties.
- There may be more than one content panel in a deck.
- Examples are the task panels of the Impress task pane or the property views of the Symphony sidebar.
- title bar
- Displays the title for the current sidebar deck.
- Can contain a closer button.
- content panel title
- Displays the title for one content panel. Optional when there is only one content panel.
- configuration menu button
- Opens a popup menu that allows switching between decks and also allows the activation and deactivation (tab is not shown) of decks.
As it is possible to see from the screen shot, to the left of each content panel title there is a button that can be used to close/open the panel content so only the panel content title is left visible, while to the right a button that opens the corresponding traditional menu covered by the panel content is available.
The available dockers and the content of the content panels depends on the component used and on the context. For example, the slide transition deck is only available on Impress while the Properties deck is on all components, but display different tools on each one. Also, the Properties deck will show different tools depending if a drawing, a picture or a text box is selected, for example.
The sidebar is by default docked to the right of the screen, but it can be moved to any side by simply dragging it from the title bar, or even left it floating as stand alone window on the same way previously discussed for toolbars.
When docked, on the middle of the free side of the sidebar it is possible to see a slim button: by clicking on it, the sidebar hides to the side where it is anchored: Clicking again on that button will open the sidebar. But if, with the sidebar hidden you click anywhere on the slim bar left behind but on the central button, the sidebar will open on "autohide" mode: as soon as you move the mouse pointer outside the sidebar, it will automatically hide again.
Some decks on the sidebar are also available as stand alone panels: the Navigator, the Stylists, the Gallery are some examples, while other panels like the Data Source panel, the thumbnail panel (seen to the left on the Draw screen shot above) are only available as stand alone panels.
These panels can be docked/undocked or hide on the same way as the sidebar.
Almost all Apache OpenOffice options can be activated through keyboard shortcuts. For example, on Writer the+ activates the thesaurus on the selected word.
All keyboard shortcuts can be configured on Tools → Customize → Keyboard tab.