Why you can trust ZDNET
:ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
I've been using LibreOffice for longer than I can remember. The free, open-source office suite has rarely failed me over the years. Beyond the ability to easily collaborate with those who use Microsoft Office, Office 365, Google Docs, Apple Pages, or just about any other office suite, one of the things I've appreciated about LibreOffice over the past few years is the ability to change the UI.
If you like an MS Office-like UI, LibreOffice has you covered.
Prefer a traditional menu-driven interface, the app is ready to serve.
Or maybe you'd like something completely different? LibreOffice is there to make it work.
Switching between the different interfaces is actually quite easy. Before I show you how, let's explore the different UI variations that are available to LibreOffice.
The different user interfaces
With the latest version of LibreOffice (I'm using version 18.104.22.168 on Ubuntu Budgie), there are seven variations to choose from, which are:
Standard Toolbar - This is your traditional UI with menus, toolbars, and a collapsed sidebar, and is geared toward those who prefer the classic interface.
Tabbed - This is similar to what Microsoft calls the Ribbon Interface.
Single Toolbar - This is a variation on the Standard UI, but simplifies it with only a single-line toolbar.
Sidebar - Uses the Stardard UI but adds a more expanded Sidebar. This UI should be considered by those who are well-versed in LibreOffice and want to be able to efficiently change the properties of a file.
Tabbed Compact - This is a compact version of the Tabbed UI.
Groupedbar Compact - Groups similar functions together in groups and displays your most frequently used features and menu.
Contextual Single - Displays all functions in a single-line toolbar with context-dependent options and content.
My preference is the Sidebar interface because I find it to be the most efficient way of accessing styles and other options for whatever file I'm working on. I do consider this a more advanced UI but that doesn't mean users who are new to LibreOffice should avoid it. Consider it to be an easier way to access more advanced options for the formatting and styles of a document.
The Sidebar option gives you quick access to document properties, styles, image gallery, page navigator, page format, Style Inspector, and the Manage Changes tool. I prefer this UI because I tend to focus mostly on the words and their formatting and this option gives me the most efficient access to those settings. On top of that, I can hide the sidebar when I need to focus primarily on the words. When I need to do some formatting, I unhide the sidebar and I'm good to go.
But how do you change the UI in LibreOffice? Let me show you.
Switching the LibreOffice UI
What you'll need: The only thing you'll need is an updated version of the LibreOffice office suite. It doesn't matter what operating system you are using, as the process is (almost) the same.
1. Open LibreOffice
This is the only variation between the steps for this process. With the Linux version of LibreOffice, you can open the individual components (Writer, Calc, Presents, etc.). If you're using either MacOS or Windows, you can only open the LibreOffice Control Center, which is where you can then open the individual components.
So, if you're on Linux, open LibreOffice Writer; or, if you're on either MacOS or Windows, open the LibreOffice entry found in either your desktop menu (Windows) or the Launchpad (MacOS). Once the control center is open, either open a previous Writer document or create a new one.
2. Open the User Interface switcher
With LibreOffice Writer open, click View > User Interface.
3. Change the UI
In the resulting popup, select your preferred User Interface. The UI won't automatically switch (for a preview), so you'll either have to click Apply to Writer (to have the change only apply to LibreOffice Writer) or Apply to All (to have the changes apply to every LibreOffice component).
If you don't care for the UI you've selected, choose another and apply the change. Once you've found the UI you want, click Close and you're ready to work.
Congratulations, you've just made LibreOffice better fit your style and workflow. Although this might not seem like a major change, you'll find there's a UI option that will help make your work with LibreOffice more efficient.