Microsoft rolls out a new Windows 11 look to Office

Microsoft visual refresh

While there are new features in Windows 11, much what's of the appeal of the latest version of the operating system is the updated look. Microsoft is not limiting itself to using the new look in Widows 11 alone; a similar aesthetic is making its way to other products and Microsoft Office has now been updated.

With the visual update, Microsoft Office gets a Windows 11 makeover, although the same look is also available to Windows 10 users running Office. Microsoft describes it as providing a "simple and more coherent experience"; here's what you need to know, including how to enable or disable it.

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Along with the Windows 11 stylings, the design revamp for Office see other changes including hiding the Quick Access Toolbar by default. Microsoft points out that the update means that Office now matches your Windows themes by default as well, and draws attention to the fact that all of Office's themes have been updated.

You can toggle the visual refresh on and off via the Coming Soon feature (the megaphone icon to the upper right of Office apps). At the moment, the setting can only be changed in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, but making the change here will affect all apps including Access, Project, Publisher and Visio.

Microsoft says:

This visual update became available automatically for some Current Channel users on Windows 10 running version 2110 and build 14527.20226 or later. If you don't see the update, you will need to restart any Office app in order to see the visual refresh. Otherwise, if you do not see the megaphone icon in the top right corner (per the above instructions) then the update is not available to you yet. If you are using Windows 11, the update is available to you. You will need to restart any Office app in order to see the visual refresh.

As we have come to expect from Microsoft, there are known issues with this update:

  • The Disable dark mode checkbox in Microsoft Word does not work when "Use system setting" is selected. Please toggle dark mode from the View tab or switch to Black theme to enable it. Note: Dark mode only affects the document page color and is separate from the Office theme.
  • The theme picker in Word's options menu has a bug for 64-bit users. Please go to File > Account and click on the Office Theme dropdown to change themes.
  • The dark grey theme was updated to meet new accessibility color contrast requirements. We're listening to your feedback about the change and we're exploring options to better support theming.
  • The backstage (i.e.: File menu) is not yet updated, but will be coming in a future update.
  • The Mica background effect has not yet been added to our apps, but will be coming in a future update for Windows 11 users.

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