While Libre Writer works better than MS Word even with no changes, there are many steps you can take to improve the appearance and performance of Libre Writer. In this article, we will show you how to get the most out of Libre Writer. Just as we made several changes to improve the appearance and performance of Linux Mint, we will review simple steps you can take to make Libre Writer even easier to use.
Simplify the Libre Office Writer Main Menu
The first step in simplifying Libre Writer is to edit the main menu. Below is the default menu of Libre Writer. It looks very plain and intimidating. Before we begin changing the top menu, we should first outline the four rows in the top menu.
Title Bar, Main Menu, Standard Toolbar and Formatting Toolbar
The blue top row is the title bar. The second row with words is the menu bar. The third row is the standard tool bar and the fourth row is the formatting tool bar.
In a previous article, we changed the color of Title bar by clicking on Menu, Control Center, Appearances, Themes.
Simplify the Main Menu
The second row is the Main Menu. It has nine menu items which work in almost the same way as Word 2003. We can eliminate any of the items in the drop down menus if we feel we do not need them. For example, the File Menu item has a huge submenu.
Do we really want to look at all of these choices if there are some we will never use? To get rid of Digital Signatures and Preview in a Web Browser, click on Tools, Customize, Menus.
Make sure it is set for the File Menu. Then scroll down to Digital Signatures and click Modify, Delete. Then select Preview in Browser and click Modify, Delete. Then click on the File menu to confirm the change. Make similar reductions in the Edit Menu.
Simplify the Tool Bars
The third row is the Standard Toolbar. The fourth row is the Formatting Toolbar. These last two toolbars can be hidden or simplified by going to the Main Menu and clicking on View, Toolbars.
The first thing we will do is turn off the ruler by going to View, Ruler and unchecking the box to the left of the word Ruler. This will give us more space in the Workspace and make our display screen and screen shots less confusing. Next, we will simplify the Standard Toolbar. We will then simplify the Formatting Toolbar.
Simplify the Standard Toolbar
The benefit of customizing a toolbar is to add any icons you like to use and hide any icons you never use. To customize any toolbar, go to View, Toolbars, Customize. This brings up the same Customize Window we just used to simplify the Main Menu.
Click on the Toolbars tab.
To add a command or icon, check on it. To remove an existing command, uncheck its box. We will remove four commands: Document send as email, Format Paintbrush, Data Sources and Nonprinting characters. Keep unchecking seldom used functions until all icons fit on the row. Then click OK.
Customize the Formatting Toolbar
To customize the formatting toolbar, click View, Toolbars, Customize (or Tools, Customize) to go back to the Toolbars Tab. Then use the Drop down arrow to the right of the word Standard to select the Formatting Toolbar. We will uncheck 8 commands. These are Justify, Left to Right, Right to Left, Numbering, Bullets, Decrease Indent, Increase Indent and Highlighting. Then we will add one very useful command called Select All. Keep unchecking seldom used tools until the tools all fit on one line. Then click OK. Repeat with the Drawing tool bat. We now have a much simpler menu that will be easier to work with.
Your menu may not have all of these colors yet. But don't worry. We will add them soon. Having fewer icons on the menu not only makes it easier for us to find the icons we use most, but it also allows us to narrow the screen size of the LibreOffice Writer window. The benefit of this is that we can have two documents open side by side – to transfer content from one document to another. Or we can have one or more documents open in a cascade on the right side of our screen while having our web browser open on the left side of our screen. Below is a screen shot of what my desktop looks like with three documents on the right in a cascade and the web browser on the left.
Being able to have multiple windows open side by side is one of the most important reasons to turn off any unneeded icons. This allows you to easily click back and forth between documents. It will also make it easier for you to remember where the remaining icons are on your main menu.
Turn off Word Completion
A common complaint about LibreOffice Writer is the very annoying word completion function. This is a function which tries to complete long words for you. The problem is that most of the time, it guesses wrong and makes it harder for you to type in the word you really want to use. To turn off Word Completion, go to Tools, AutoCorrect Options. Then click on the Word Completion tab.
Uncheck Enable Word Completion. Then click OK.
Customize Tools Options
Our next task is to modify a few of the settings on the Tools, Options window. Click on Tools, Options.
Type in your name. Then click on the Memory tab.
If you insert a lot of images in your documents and write rather large and complex documents, one of the biggest problems with the default settings on LibreOffice Writer is the lack of memory. This can slow down your word processing and even crash the application. Another problem is that LibreOffice will try to remember your last 100 steps. This will also use up memory. To solve both of these problems, reduce the number of steps to 50. Then increase the Graphics Cache to 50 MB and increase the time to 20 minutes.
Next click View. For Icon Size, you can choose Automatic, Small or Large. For Style, you may only have one option called Galaxy. Or you may also have Human and Breeze.
Thankfully, it is pretty easy to get more.
Each can be installed with the terminal using the following command.
sudo apt-get install libreoffice-style-sifr
Alternately, you can search for libreoffice in the Mint Software Managerand install the tango icons from there. The Crystal icons wanted to remove a bunch of packages. Do not install it.
Here is what Breeze looks like:
Here is Human
Here is Galaxy
Here is Sifir
Here is Oxygen
Here is Tango
Change the Default Pictures folder
A problem with Libre Writer is when you click on Insert Picture, From File in either Libre Writer, Libre Draw or Libre Impress, you are taken to a very strange hidden images folder called gallery.
We will use our file manager to create another folder called 0_my_images which is at the top level of our Home folder. We can then make this the default images folder by going to Tools, Options, LibreOffice, Paths:
Change the path to the Graphics folder to /home/david/00_my_images. First, select the graphics row. Then click Edit. Then navigate to the folder you want to use. Then click OK.
Change the Default Templates folder
The templates folder has also been put in a very strange place. Click on File, Templates, Manage and you will see that there are not many templates anyway that have already been created. None of these precreated templates are of much use. Surprisingly, there is no default Libre Writer template in My Templates that we can access to change the default layout of our Libre Writer documents! We will fix this problem in the next article.
For now, we want to change the default template folder to the Templates folder in our Mint File Manager. Go to Tools, Options, Paths and select Templates. Then click on Edit. Then click Add. Then select the Mint Templates folder.
Then select the previous path. Then click Delete. Then click OK. Then click OK again.
Stop Hidden Files from Showing in Libre Writer
When we click on File Open from a Libre Writer document, then click on the Home folder, a bunch of folders appear with a dot at the beginning of the folder name that should not appear.
To hide these folders, from an open document, click File Open. When the file manager comes up, right click in the workspace. Uncheck Show Hidden Files.
This only needs to be done once. After this, whenever you click file open from LibreOffice only the normal folders will show.