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The Microsoft Office ribbon contains most of the commands you need, but sometimes it would be useful to add to it. Here’s how to find and choose other buttons to add to the ribbon in whichever tab you want.

The ribbon bar has been standard in all of the Office apps—Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word (plus Project and Visio if you paid for them)—since Office 2007, and it’s fair to say it’s pretty useful. Microsoft has put a lot of work into making the right tab open automatically depending on what you have selected in the app, and it’s so seamless most people don’t even notice.

Still, everyone has different needs, and you might find a ribbon button more useful than diving through a couple of menus or using a context menu. You can add any app command as a button in the ribbon using a simple customization process.

We’re going to show you how to do this using Outlook, but the same instructions apply to all the Microsoft Office apps. As an example, we’re going to add a new button to the Home tab in the Outlook ribbon to create a new email in plain text.

Right-click on any of the tabs in the ribbon bar, and select “Customize The Ribbon.”

The "Customize the Ribbon" menu option.

In the “Customize The Ribbon” panel that opens, change the “Popular Commands” drop-down menu to “All Commands.”

The "All Commands" dropdown option.

Scroll down until you reach the command you want. In this case, we’re going to select “Plain Text.”

The "Plain Text" command.

To add your button to the ribbon, you have to add it to a group. These are shown in the right-hand column.

The groups currently visible in the ribbon.

We want to add our button to the “Home” tab and in its own group. (Although you can add a command to an existing group by simply selecting that group.)

To add a group, click the “New Group” button and then click “Rename” to give the group a suitable name. Select the “OK” button to confirm the group’s creation.

The "Customize the Ribbon" panel showing a new group being added.

We want our button to be the first button in the tab, so it needs to be moved to the top of the list, above the “New” group. Use the arrows on the right-hand side to move your new group to the top of the list, or drag and drop it into position instead.

A group being moved using the arrow buttons.

The final step is to add the button to the group. Select “Plain Text” in the left-hand panel, and click the “Add” button to add it to the group.

The "Plain Text" command being added to the new group.

Click “OK” to close the panel. Your new group, containing the “Plain Text” button, will be visible in the “Home” tab.

The "Plain Text" button displayed in a new group on the ribbon.

To remove the button, right-click the tab and select “Customize The Ribbon” again. Select the button in the right-hand panel, then select “Remove.”

A command being removed using the "Customize the Ribbon" panel.

Click “OK” and the button will be removed from the ribbon. If the group you created only had one button in it, the group will be removed as well.

You can add as many groups and as many buttons as you like, as well as removing the default buttons and groups. This makes the ribbon as customizable as you could possible want.

If you want to remove customizations from a ribbon tab, click the “Reset” button found in the “Customize The Ribbon” menu, then select “Reset Only Selected Ribbon Tab.”

The "Reset only selected Ribbon tab" menu option.

Alternatively, if you want the entire ribbon to be reset to the default, use “Reset All Customizations” instead. The various reset options allow you to make as many changes as you want with confidence, because you’re only ever a button press away from restoring a default tab or the entire default ribbon.

Rob Woodgate Rob Woodgate
Rob Woodgate is a writer and IT consultant with nearly 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He's also worked as a trainer, technical support person, delivery manager, system administrator, and in other roles that involve getting people and technology to work together.
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