Sometimes Microsoft Word menus and toolbars are slower. Granted many built-in commands have keyboard shortcuts, but many do not. This was the case for me when I wanted to use Word’s Reading Mode. Instead of finding the correct tab and button each time, I decided to customize Word so I could access this mode with a custom keyboard shortcut. It may not sound like much, but the shortcut saved clicks and reduced my editing time. (Updated for Microsoft 365)
I suspect there are commands that you frequently use that could be assigned a keyboard shortcut. My motivation was speed. I’m sure if you glance down the long list of commands, you’ll see plenty of ideas. Once you know how to assign keyboard shortcuts to Word commands, you’ll start finding more ways to use this trick.
Figuring Out Which Commands to Customize
It’s hard for me to tell you which commands to map to the keyboard. I would first consider how often you use the command and how easy it is to access. For example, some commands like All Caps already have a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl + Shift + A. You might want to remap it if the key combination was cumbersome for you. Other commands don’t even show in the ribbon or have shortcut keys. Those are prime candidates if you use them enough.
In my case, my frustration came from trying to figure out how to exit Read Mode. Once I clicked to get into Read Mode the ribbon disappeared and I lost my bearings. Yes, I know the buttons are in the lower right. Anyway, I just assigned a keyboard shortcut that toggles this mode on and off.
Another approach is to list all the existing Word commands and shortcuts. This long list will get you thinking of possibilities. It will also show you any existing mappings including ones you made.
How to Find Microsoft Word Keyboard Shortcuts
- From the View menu, click Macros.
- From the drop-down menu, select View Macros.
- On the Macros dialog, click in the Macros in: box and select Word commands.
- In the Macro name: box above, delete the current macro name.
- Type lis to advance the macro name list.
- Click ListCommands.
- Click the Run button on the right.
- On the List Commands dialog, click Current keyboard settings.
- Click OK.
A long table appears showing the Command Name, Modifiers, and Key. A much longer list appears if you select All Word documents. A snapshot of the longer table appears below. The “shortcut keys” are a combination of the Modifier and Key. For instance, the Cut command equates to Ctrl + X.
How to Create a Keyboard Shortcut for a Microsoft Word Command
For this example, I’ll assign a keyboard mapping to the Read Mode command.
- From the File menu, select Options. It’s on the bottom.
- On the Word Options dialog, click Customize Ribbon.
- Click the Customize… button next to Keyboard shortcuts.
- The Customize Keyboard dialog opens. The left side shows Categories which are your ribbon tabs while the right side show Commands within the category.
- Scroll down the Categories list and select All Commands.
- Click into the Commands section to get focus.
- Type R to advance the Commands list.
- Scroll down to ReadingMode.
- Click in the Press new shortcut key box.
- Press the shortcut keys you’d like to assign to the Command.
- Press Assign.
- Press Close.
- Press OK.
When I first did this exercise, I got confused because there were so many reading mode and layout commands. To ensure you’re mapping the correct command, read the Description that shows on the Customize Keyboard dialog. In the screen snap above you can see it says Toggles full screen reading. Lastly, make sure you test your new mapping.