Even the casual user of Mac Office 2004 will be familiar with the Formatting Palette. The one-stop tool for sorting the myriad of options associated with altering text and objects in office documents was a great addition to the UI in Mac Office 2004. Those less familiar with Mac Office 2004 may never have even known about the other palette, also known as the Office Toolbox, which gave access to several utilities: Scrapbook, Compatibility Report, Project Palette, and Reference Tools. Well, never let it be said that there can be too much of a good thing, as the latest e-mail from the Mac BU makes clear.
The Toolbox has been revamped to become a true one-stop destination for some of the most useful tools in Office for Mac. Incorporating the original Office for Mac Toolbox and Formatting Palette into a single UI, this Mac-only feature will continue to give users instant access to the tools they need, including Object Palette, Animation Settings, Citations, and Formula Builder.
Why it was decided to cram more options into a densely-packed UI is something of a mystery, as is the reason the lesser known "toolbox" moniker was used. A badly-compressed demo of the new Toolbox can be found here, but not much is gained compared to high-resolution screenshots and detailed explanations, though a few observations can be made.
Mac Office 2008 and iWork media browsers First, among the many icons there can now be found a media browser that can access the iPhoto library. Unfortunately, unlike the Media Browser in iWork, it cannot access other types of media, like audio and video. This would be an example of not offering enough options.
An example of perhaps too many options in one place might be the text palette. Not to offend those office users needing ligatures in their document, but does that checkbox really belong there? In contrast, Pages has options spread out a little more and grouped differently. Of course, part of that is because Pages uses a Formatting Toolbar, but still there is a different philosophy at work.