How to keep your MS Word toolbar from disappearing

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Today’s tip won’t take long to explain, but I can tell you that whenever I show someone how to do this, it is almost always a huge relief. People get very frustrated by MS Word because their top toolbar keeps disappearing and they don’t know how to make it stay there for good.

MS Word


First off, even though many users call it a toolbar, that’s not the actual name for it. It’s called the “ribbon”. At least that’s how it’s referred to within MS Word, so that’s the term I’m going to use here.

What I’m talking about is that row of icons and command options that is usually at the top of any window when you have Word open. It looks like this:

Word ribbon


This is the nice collection of editing tools that allows you to make your Word documents look the way you want them to look. And for most people, these icons and menus are accessed all the time – so you probably want that ribbon to always be there. But sometimes it disappears, and the top of your Word document looks like this:

MS Word ribbon


That’s usually when you want to scream at your computer or throw it out the window. Don’t give in to the temptation to take a hammer to it! Getting that ribbon back is easy.

Here’s how you get the MS Word ribbon back:

Hold down the Ctrl key, and tap the F1 key

That’s it! I told you it was easy! That’s how I do it anyway, because I am much quicker using a keyboard shortcut than using the mouse to click on something. If you would prefer to click on something with your mouse, look in the top right corner of your Word document window. You’ll see a tiny icon that looks like it’s pointing up or down.

Word ribbon


When it’s pointing upward, that means the Word ribbon is currently on display. So if you click that little icon, it makes the Word ribbon disappear, and the icon is then pointing downward. So you know if your ribbon is gone, you can click on the down-pointing icon to make the ribbon come back on display. If that sounds confusing, just do like I do and use Ctrl + F1 to make it simple to toggle back and forth.

The example I used here was with MS Word, but the same thing applies to the other Office programs such as Excel, Outlook, etc. In fact, if you want to play a little joke on someone, wait until they are away from their computer, then go over and make their ribbon disappear. Eventually you’ll hear them getting frustrated (especially if it’s a co-worker that sits near your desk). Then you can be the “hero” and go over and fix it for them. A little harmless fun in the office!

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Pat McMahon
August 17th, 2015

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

My Word ribbon disappeared months ago, and I never knew why. I expected to take a long time researching the fix, so I’ve procrastinated all this time. Imagine my embarrassment when I saw your less-than-one-second fix!!

Chris Rogers
August 20th, 2015


I love, absolutely love your podcasts. They make my Mondays bearable (almost.) I tried to rate you on iTunes but could not figure it out. So, maybe you could remote in and help me do that. J/K! Or maybe you could do a podcast on that subject.

Thanks for all you do. God Bless!