Office 2013 / 2016 Start Screen, Themes and that Weird “Smooth Text” Feature

Office is what we’d call a “productivity” application.  Which leads me to wonder why Microsoft keeps sticking these road bumps in the way of… you know, getting productive.

One of my least favorite features is the first thing you see when you open an Office 2013 or 2016 application – the start screen.  Never mind that Word takes an additional 5-10 seconds to load now (find a copy of Office 2003 if you don’t believe me – there is absolutely no lag time, it starts instantly).  Your first view is the insulting “Start Screen”, a continuous reminder that Microsoft really cares “what do you want to do today?”


Let’s get rid of it.  You’ll have to open a blank document, then hit File –> Options


And there it is, plain as day.  Uncheck “Show the Start screen when this application starts”.


This also works with Excel and other Office applications.

While we’re in here, let’s get rid of that ridiculous theme and do something about that horribly washed out look of this program (whoever thought light gray on white was a good contrast scheme should be taken out and shot).

Those silly decorations are good for nothing.  The minimalist window resize buttons are hard enough to see as it is.

Choose “No Background” and “Dark Gray” for the Office Theme.


I sure wish Microsoft had more options for themes.  I’ve never had so many uninstall requests as the month my company rolled out Office 2013 – all because of the washed out color scheme.

Last, let’s talk about that weird animated-typing thing.  It used to be that your cursor would progress to the next space as soon as you typed a character.  Not anymore!  Microsoft is sure you want the cursor to smoothly drag across the page as you type, in direct contrast to the action of typing a single character on a keyboard.

This, unfortunately, is a Windows setting. 

  • Go to your system properties (Windows Key + R, type “sysdm.cpl”

  • Go to the Advanced tab and click “Settings” under Performance

  • Click “Custom” to change individual settings, and uncheck “Animate controls and elements inside windows”

OK your way out of System Properties.

You’ll have to log off and back on for the settings to take effect, but now your cursor will advance one space with each keystroke as it used to.

originally published 11/3/2016

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