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10 Microsoft Word 2013 headaches and how to cure them

Elsa Wenzel and Helen Bradley | Feb. 15, 2013
Microsoft Word remains the world's beefiest and most popular word processing program.

7. The cursor lags behind your typing

Word 2013 adds an animation effect that follows your cursor as you type--at least, it's supposed to. This video from Windows expert Paul Thorrott shows how the effect works out-of-sync with the cursor's true movements. This is especially troublesome if you're a speedy typist working with a slow PC. If your eyes (and inner ears) are sensitive, watching what you've typed appear just a little bit asynchronously with your actual keystrokes can even make you feel a little dizzy. You can disable the animation effect throughout Office 2013 with these steps from the Within Windows blog, but the Registry tweak isn't friendly for amateurs.

8. Windows litter the screen

This complaint isn't about something Microsoft has changed, but about an opportunity it has missed to introduce a change that would benefit users. When you open a new document, Word 2013 behaves as Word always has: It opens a new window. As a result, if you're juggling a dozen projects, Microsoft makes you juggle the same number of open windows. That's a lot to keep track of, even if you're using more than one monitor. At least you can Alt-Tab through the myriad windows.

But why can't Microsoft Word act like any contemporary Web browser, and organize your open files into tidy tabs? Surprise, it can--but only if you pay $25 for the Office Tab add-on from Extend Office.

9. Collaborative editing is quirky

Hooray, you can share a document with a coworker without having to email the file back and forth. First, you save the document to your SkyDrive account (and from the browser, you can invite others to do so). From the Word 2013 document itself, go to File > Share. There you'll find a bunch of choices, including the option to invite individuals via email, and the option to obtain a URL for sharing the document. Choose Invite People, in order to add a note to one or more people and to grant them either view-only permission or editing permission. Thankfully, the person you share with no longer has to sign in to make edits.

What's the headache? Well, unless you're working in a corporate SharePoint environment, Microsoft pushes your co-authoring to the limited Word Web App in a browser, not to your local, full-featured Word 2013 program. (Beware of confusion if the same document is open in the browser and in Word, too.) Furthermore, two people can't alter a document online at the same moment--something that competitor Google Docs allows.

Microsoft justifies the arrangement it adopted as enabling team productivity "without intruding on one another's work or locking out other users." Google's way may be riskier, but it's also more straightforward. After all, why grant someone permission to edit your document if you don't trust what they'll change?

 

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