Microsoft Office is ubiquitous in offices and workplaces everywhere. It is a powerful suite of programs that allows you to do almost anything you want with the click of a button, but that power comes with a downside: sometimes these programs run slow enough to frustrate even the most patient user. But there are some tricks you can use to make Microsoft Office run more smoothly.
1. Stop loading unnecessary add-ins: If Word is taking a long time to start up, it could be that it is using resources to automatically load in templates and add-ins that you will never use. A simple solution is to move the startup files that Word loads every time you open the program. To do this, make sure your computer is set to show hidden folders. Then go to C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\STARTUP and move the .dot files there to C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates. After that the add-ins will not load automatically at startup, but if you ever need them you can access them in the Templates and Add-ins option under Tools.
2. Optimize settings based on what you need: Microsoft Word has a lot of bells and whistles, but the fact is that the majority of users never have use for most of them. Changing or turning off settings you personally do not need will help the program run faster. To get started with what settings to change and how to find them, read this article.
3. Delete hidden and invisible objects: Copying and pasting information into Excel spreadsheets can introduce a number of objects that are invisible to the user but weigh the spreadsheet down with extraneous information that can make the program sluggish. The Microsoft Excel blog recently posted step-by-step instructions detailing how to track down and delete hidden objects in Excel 2007 spreadsheets. (Find that post here).
4. Keep it clean and simple: Excessive formatting, such as adding a lot of colors and fancy fonts, can bog down a spreadsheet. It is usually best to keep the font at your desired default and use colors sparingly. Also, complex, multi-step calculations all done in one cell can significantly slow down calculation time. Try to spread out calculations into multiple cells, with each one containing a simpler, intermediate formula. Keep as few references as possible in each formula to cut down on speed-stealing repetitive calculations.
5. Archive older items to reduce your PST file: The PST file in Outlook contains all of your information and e-mails, and as such will keep growing over time. Since Outlook has to load this file every time it starts, if it gets too large it will massively slow down the startup time. Simply deleting old e-mails will not resolve the problem, especially if you have a lot of messages that you want to keep. What you can do, though, is archive older e-mails by going to File and then to Archive. This will transfer the data you specify into a special archive PST file that Outlook will not load upon startup. You can access this archive at any time by going to File and then Open Data.
6. Make sure Outlook is up to date: Remember to download updates and service packs for Microsoft Office. Service packs fix performance issues that can crop up when users are running outdated versions of Microsoft Office. For more information on how to keep Outlook up to date and other tricks to make it run faster, see this Lifehacker post.
7. Get rid of extraneous files: PowerPoint can accumulate files in the TEMP folder that will take up space and resources. Periodically delete these files to keep PowerPoint running smoothly. If you are working with an older computer, consider using PowerPoint’s compression tool to reduce image sizes while retaining quality. This will significantly reduce the overall file size and allow for faster loading times when you open it.
8. Disable Live Preview: If you hover over a formatting option in PowerPoint 2007 with Live Preview enabled, it will automatically show you a preview of what your presentation would look like if that option was selected. While this is a neat tool that allows you to see at a glance what changes will look like before committing to anything, its excessive load time on older machines can make formatting a chore. To turn this feature off, click the Office button, then PowerPoint Options. In the PowerPoint Options dialog box, select Popular and then uncheck Enable Live Preview.
James is a writer at Office Kitten, one of the leading business supplies specialist in the UK.