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Manipulating the Work menu with macros

Word's Work menu is one of Word's best and most underutilized features. Many of us have documents we work on often, or templates that we modify on a regular basis. Storing these files in the Work menu makes them easy to retrieve at a moment's notice. And unlike the Most Recently Used file list in the File Menu, the Work menu is persistent, which is handy if you open nine files in between.

The Work menu suffers, however, from some disadvantages as well. First, it can be difficult to remove items from the menu, if one manages to remember the keyboard shortcut (and on Mac OS X, the default accessibility options may pre-empt the shortcut, making it impossible). Since the shortcut's Remove Menu Item command works for any menu item, if your finger inadvertently slips off the mouse button, you may delete something else entirely.

A second disadvantage is that the menu is stored in a volatile preference file, which means that if you have to trash the preferences, or if you want to move your installation to another machine, you lose your settings.

A third disadvantage is a lack of context-specific loading of the menu. Whenever I'm developing an add-in, I like to have the add-in listed in the Work menu, so that if I have to modify it, I can open it quickly without having to navigate through a bunch of folders. When the add-in isn't loaded, however, I'd prefer not to see it on the menu. Using the regular user interface, though, once you add a file, it stays added until it you manually remove it.

I use a system of macros to make sure that the Work menu stays clean and user friendly. Specifically,

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Remove items from the Work menu

Save items to a text file.

Automatically add an add-in or file to the Work menu

Download the jemWordWorkMenu add-in

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