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Getting Rid of the Office Assistant

The Office Assistant has been a part of the Office landscape for several years now, and it still evokes strong reactions, just as it did when it was first introduced. Some people love the Office Assistant; others hate it.

If you are one of those who hates the Office Assistant, you may wonder how to best go about getting rid of it--permanently. The answer depends on the version of Office you are using.

When using Office 2003, you can turn off the Office Assistant so it doesn't pop up all the time by following these steps:

  1. The next time you see the Office Assistant, right click on it and choose Options from the resulting Context menu. Word displays the Office Assistant dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Options tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Options tab from the Office Assistant dialog box.

  4. Clear the Use the Office Assistant check box.
  5. Click OK to close the dialog box.

Now, the only time you will see the Office Assistant is if you choose Show the Office Assistant from the Help menu.

If you are using Excel 97, then you can use a different approach to get rid of the pesky characters. Follow these steps:

  1. Exit all Microsoft Office programs. (Better still, just exit all your programs. This includes Outlook and Outlook Express.)
  2. Use the Find or Search capability, available from the Start menu, to search for a folder with the name Actors. Windows should locate one or two folders named Actors.
  3. Examine the folders. If they are used by Office products, they include files that end in the .ACT file extension. These are the Office Assistant actors. (Actors are the characters used by the Office Assistant. You know--such lovable characters as Clippy and the genius.)
  4. Right-click on the Actor folder in the Find dialog box. Windows displays a Context menu.
  5. Choose Rename from the Context menu and change the folder name to something different. (Perhaps DeadActors or RetiredActors?)
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each additional Actors folder.
  7. Close the Find dialog box.

You can now restart any of your Office 97 programs (including Excel), and the Office Assistants are gone for good. If you later want them back, simply rename the folders back to Actors.

In later versions of Office, Microsoft did away with the Actors folder. Instead, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Exit all Microsoft Office programs.
  2. Use the Find or Search capability, available from the Start menu, to search for any files with an ACS extension. Whereas earlier versions of Office used the ACT extension for Office Assistant actors, later versions standardized on the ACS extension.
  3. Examine the files located in the search. Not all of them will be for Office Assistant actors. You can tell if they are by whether the files are located in folders obviously related to Office.
  4. Create a new folder and move the Office Assistant actor files to that folder. You can name the folder anything you like. As you move the files, make note of their names.
  5. Use the Find or Search capability to find any files with the ACG extension. These are the preview files for the Office Assistant actors.
  6. Examine the files located in the search. There should be one ACG file for each ACS file you moved in step 4. There may be other ACG files on your system; these can be ignored.
  7. Move the ACG files to the same folder you created in step 4.

Microsoft could certainly have made it easier to locate and move Office Assistant actor files by placing them all in a single folder, as they did in Office 97, but all in all it is not that difficult to locate them and move them.

Once done, you can restart your Office programs (including Word), and the Office Assistants are gone for good. If you later want them back, simply rename the folders back to Actors (Office 97) or move the ACS and ACG files back to their original locations (later versions of Office).

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3193) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!


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