Getting Rid of Start Screens on Microsoft Office 2013 Applications

As much as I like the most recent (2013) version of Microsoft Office, there are a few minor things that a lot of my students and I don’t like. In this month’s blog, I’m going to address two of these issues and show you how easy it is to fix them.

The Problem with Microsoft Office 2013 Start Screen

First, there is the issue of the Start screen. In all previous versions of Office, when you opened the program you were presented with an application window and a blank document that you could begin working on. But, when you open an Office 2013 application you are presented with the Start screen. Below are screen shots of the Start screen from both Word and Excel:

When you open an Microsoft Office 2013 application you are presented with the Start screen.  This is a screen shot of the Start screen from Word.

When you open an Microsoft Office 2013 application you are presented with the Start screen.  This is a screen shot of the Start screen from Excel.

These Start screens (PowerPoint also has one) do not let you immediately begin working on a new document. Instead you are presented with a rather busy screen showing a lot of Templates that you download from Microsoft if you want to begin working on a pre-formatted document. While a lot of these templates are well done and may contain a lot of good content and features, it seems that no one in the corporate world uses them. So if your mission in opening the application was to immediately begin working on a new blank document, you have to locate the icon labeled “Blank Document” and click on it to get to the application window.

Now it doesn’t seem like an extra click is a lot of work, but if you’re never going to use any of the Microsoft templates it becomes one more extra step. At a lot of places where I teach I am often asked “How can I make the program stop doing that?”

How to get Rid of the Microsoft Office 2013 Start Screen

Before I show you how and where to fix this, I want to address the next issue: the background color of the screen. When Office 2013 came out, they introduced the “Metro” styling where the screen is far less colorful than it was in previous versions. Supposedly, this was done to make it easier to view the application on a smaller screen like a tablet or mobile device. But, the background color defaults to White. With the white background a lot of users complain that it can be difficult to see where the document area ends and where the background begins. Below are a couple of screen shot that show both Word and Excel with the white background:

This is a screen shot of a Microsoft Office 2013 Word document with the white background.

This is a screen shot of a Microsoft Office 2013 Excel document with the white background.

And, once again, I am often asked by my students if there is anyway to change the background color to provide more contrast.

So, the reason I waited until now to show how to fix these issues is that they are both corrected from the same screen. All you need to do is to click on the File Tab to go to the Backstage view screen pictured below and click on the command in left column labeled Options

To change the Microsoft Office 2013 Start screen on, click on the File tab and click on the Options link.

This will open the Options dialog box pictured below. In this box on the very first screen you see (the General category) you will see two settings: “Office Theme” and “Show the Start screen when this application starts.”

In a Microsoft Office 2013, you can change the office theme and Start screen options by entering the "General options for working with Word" under the Options link in the Files tab.

Simply change these settings. Change the Office Theme to Dark Gray and turn off the Start screen as pictured below:

To change the Microsoft Office 2013 Start screen to resember previous Microsoft applations, . Change the Office Theme to Dark Gray and turn off the Start screen.

That’s it! When you click OK these settings are permanently changed so that when you open the program in the future, you’ll never see the Start screen again, and it will be easier to see where your document area ends and where the background beings.

If you permanently change your Start screen settings on a Microsoft Office 2013 application, you will never see the Start screen again.

 

 

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