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How to Turn a Menu into a Floating Toolbar

In many applications, there are some menus that can also serve as floating toolbars. If you make selections from these menus frequently enough, you might be able to save yourself a few keystrokes by dragging them down (or in some cases, up) off their menu bars and letting them float free on your screen.

By way of example, take the Font Color button, which you use to change the color of text you’ve selected. It’s the one with the big letter “A” on it, and you’ll find it on the Drawing toolbar in Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, on the Form/Report Formatting toolbar in Access, on the Formatting toolbar in FrontPage (and Word, because it appears on two toolbars there), and, in a slightly modified form, on the Formatting toolbar in Publisher. In each of these applications except Publisher, you click the down arrow to the right of the Font Color button to open the color palette, the menu you use to choose your color.

To use this menu, you have to open it first. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just keep it open? Well of course you can. Here’s how:

  1. Click the down arrow to the right of the Font Color toolbar to display the color palette.

  2. Rest your mouse pointer on the colored bar at the top of the color palette. After a moment, a tip will appear that says, “Drag to make this menu float.”

  3. Press and hold the left mouse button and drag the color palette away from the toolbar.

  4. Release the mouse button. The color palette is now a floating toolbar. It will stay open until you click the X button in the top right corner to close it.

The Font Color button’s color palette is only one example of a menu that can also be a floating toolbar. Look for others. You’ll know you’ve found one when you see that colored bar at the top that says “Drag to make this menu float” when you rest your mouse pointer on it.

(Posted 01/01/2001)