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What's new in SoftMaker Office 2018? – Part 1

Wednesday, 22 November 2017 08:00

Dear SoftMaker customers:

Not long ago, we started shipping our new office suite SoftMaker Office 2018 for Windows. To help you keep track of the numerous improvements, we present the most important ones in a multi-part series of articles here in the SoftMaker Blog.

Have fun reading about our new Office!

Part 1: Don't let the ribbon scare you!

If you have participated in the beta test or tried out out the free 30-day trial version of SoftMaker Office 2018, you have probably already noticed: right at the first start of SoftMaker Office 2018, you can choose the user interface you want to work with:

This gives you the choice to work with either with the classic user interface using menus and toolbars, or with modern ribbons.

As an experienced user of SoftMaker Office 2016, you might wonder if you should really take the plunge and go with the new ribbons. We can only give this recommendation: Do it, you won't regret it!

The new ribbon interface

For fans of the tried and tested, there is good news at this point: Even when using our new ribbon interface, you can still use the menu. To ensue a smooth migration, we have added a handy feature for you: the "hamburger menu":

The name "hamburger menu" comes from the icon that is customarily used for such menus: three stripes that symbolize the three major elements of a hamburger.

As you can see, you will find all menu entries from the classic user interface here. If you don't find a certain command in the new ribbons immediately, you can always invoke it via this menu.

But we are sure you'll quickly find things faster in the new ribbons – numerous elements are more easily accessible than ever before.

The best advice we can give: play with the new ribbons to explore them. You will see that you can rely on your intuition: For example, do you want to insert a graphical shape? No problem – under Insert > AutoShape, you will find a catalogue which lets you conveniently insert the shape of your choice in the document:

Once a shape is inserted, you will notice that something is going on at the right edge of the ribbons: depending on the situation, additional "context-sensitive" ribbon tabs become active, which offer options and commands that "make sense" in the given situation. In this case, the context-sensitive ribbon "Object" is displayed as long as the just-inserted AutoShape is selected:

Here you will find the most important options for editing the selected object, all in one place. For example, you can use the control "AutoShape templates" to conveniently select from a catalog of pre-defined formatting options and apply them to the shape object with a click:

When you let the mouse pointer hover over one of the options, a preview of that option will appear in your document. This makes it much easier to choose between different formatting options.

Backstage view? No, thanks!

You may have seen this in the office suite of a major vendor: You click on "File" and expect an ordinary "File" ribbon with file-related commands. But suddenly a confusing new user interface opens up that takes up the entire screen, makes it difficult to access documents on your hard drive and pushes you to use "the cloud" for your documents. We decided against this so-called "backstage view" for file operations. With SoftMaker Office 2018, you get what you expect when you click on "File": an attractively designed and well-conceived File ribbon:

In this ribbon, too, you will quickly notice some practical "little helpers" for your everyday work. You can use the "New" and "Open" controls to display not only the most recently used files and templates, but also to "pin" frequently used files and templates at the top – all you have to do is click on the small "Pin" icon:

Did you know? All the new control elements discussed here can also be found in the classic user interface – for example, you'll see the improved "Open" icon in the Standard toolbar, directly below the Edit menu:

So, in case you decide against ribbons, you will still benefit from the many interface enhancements, even in classic mode with menus and toolbars.

Small but powerful: the group arrows for advanced functions

Although most features are available directly in the ribbons, sometimes there are situations where you want to dig deeper into the matter, in order to make fine adjustments to your document. In these situations, the little "triangles" at the bottom right of the command groups will guide you to advanced options:

For example, if you want to change the color of a paragraph border, simply click on the group arrow marked above. The well-known "Paragraph" dialog box will appear, allowing you to specify all the formatting settings of the paragraph in detail. All you have to do is switch to the "Border" tab and set the details of the desired paragraph border. In our case, simply open the "Color" dropdown and pick a color for the contour line.

Always at your service: the Quick Access toolbar

Some commands must always be at hand, no matter which ribbon is currently active. For this purpose, there is the practical Quick Access toolbar to the left of the document tabs:

In its default state, it contains the following elements:

  • the "hamburger menu" that we already talked about,
  • a button to activate the touch mode with large icons and more generous spacing,
  • the most important file operations (New, Open, Save),
  • "Undo" and "Redo" and
  • Toggle object mode.

Not good enough for you? No problem: You can customize both the quick access toolbar and the ribbons to your liking! Find out more below.

Your wish is its command: customizing the user interface

Are you missing frequently used commands on the "Home" ribbon? Do you want to add or remove commands from the Quick Access toolbar? To do this, simply right-click on any ribbon to open the customization menu:

Choose the Customize ribbon command. A dialog window will appear in which you can customize the user interface to your liking:

All available commands are listed on the left, while the right side shows the commands in the way they are arranged in the user interface.

If you want to put a new command on a ribbon, first select the desired ribbon in the upper right corner under "Customize". Then select the command from the left list and click ">>" to add it to the right list.

Hint: There are two even easier ways to add commands to the Quick Access toolbar:

  • In this dialog window, click an icon and drag it to the Quick Access toolbar.
  • Even simpler: Commands that are already on a ribbon can be dragged to the Quick Access toolbar without going through any dialog boxes. Simply hold down the Alt key and drag the desired icon from the ribbon straight to the Quick Access toolbar.

We hope this article gave you a first overview of our new user interface. This is the initial article in a series, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you want to find out more about SoftMaker Office 2018, check out the feature list.

Do you want to share your first impressions, comments or suggestions for improvement? Do not hesitate to use the comment function of this blog. We look forward to your feedback!

If you haven't downloaded the trial version of SoftMaker Office 2018 yet, you can find it here.

We hope you enjoy working with SoftMaker Office 2018 as much as we enjoyed creating it!



  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 12:49

    KP: Due to the implementation of OpenGL and the use of the latest version of the Windows Media API, we can't support any operating system older than Windows 7 any longer. However, users with newer operating systems benefit from this improvements. Please understand our decision.

  • KP posted by KP
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 12:17

    Office 2018 doesn't work on Windows XP and Vista. Crap

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 12:01

    Christian: You can create PDF files directly out of any application of SoftMaker Office. In TextMaker, for example, you just have to invoke "File | PDF export" in ribbon mode or "File > Export as PDF" in classic mode.

    If you want to edit existing PDF files, you might be interested in our PDF editor FlexiPDF. You can find a free trial version of it at

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 11:53

    Ulf Hammerling: SoftMaker Office 2018 does not support external literature reference management software. However, the support of suchlike software is definetely on our wishlist for future versions of SoftMaker Office.

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 11:38

    Amrish Patel: Due to the native use of the file formats DOCX, XLSX and PPTX, SoftMaker Office 2018 offers seamless compatibility to Microsoft Office. To try out SoftMaker Office 2018, you can download a free 30-day trial version at

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 11:31

    Denis A.J. Horn: For your e-mails, contacts, tasks and appointments, we included an enhanced version of the popular e-mail application Thunderbird in our office suite.

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 11:26

    Walter Van Turnhout: SoftMaker Office 2018 supports the latest version of the Windows Media API. Therefore, you can embed all media files with any codec supported by your operating system. To get a complete list of all file formats which can be embedded, you can install our trial version and go to "Insert > Movie/Sound" in Presentations. In the drop-down list on the bottom right of this dialog box, you'll find a list of all supported file formats. You can find the free 30-day trial version at

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 11:15

    david haigh: In ribbon mode, you can find the conditional formatting options under "Home > Conditional formatting". With the classic UI, you can find the conditional formatting options under "Format > Conditional formatting".
    To automatize PlanMaker, you can use our macro language BasicMaker which can be found under "File > Edit script" in ribbon mode or under "Tools > Edit script" in classic mode.

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 11:09 A Norwegian translation is on our wishlist for future versions. However, please understand that we cannnot provide you with a timeframe yet.

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 11:05

    Leslie Reisz: Thanks a lot. We're glad to hear you are satisfied with our software. If you have a file with compatibility issues, please send it to our support team so we can investigate it in detail. To do that, please use our support contact form at
    As previous versions, SoftMaker Office 2018 supports also the portable installation on a USB flash drive.

  • Ulf Hammerling posted by Ulf Hammerling
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 11:04

    Some of my work involves the authoring of scientific manuscripts and reports, which is strongly facilitated by literature reference management software, such as Endnote or Mendeley. Contrary to MS Word (2007), however, my current version (2016) version of SoftMaker lacks compatibility - i.e. formating the references - with anyone among these highly useful packages. Although I have as yet not tested SoftMaker 2018, there are no indications on whether this function has been implemented in the updated package. I strongly believe that many users of SoftMaker would appreciate this implementation.

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 11:00

    Dave Beedon: With SoftMaker Office 2018, you have a choice: you can either use the modern ribbon interface of use the classic interface with menus and toolbars.

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 10:57 SoftMaker Office 2018 is available as a one-time purchase, not as a subscription. Once bought, you can use the software as long as you want. For pricing details, please see

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 10:51

    Steve Gray: SoftMaker Office 2018 offers seamless compatibility to Microsoft Office. You might want to try out our free 30-day trial version to find out if our office suite meets your requirements:

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 10:45

    Olakunle Aruleba: We are glad to hear that you are satisfied with our software. Please check if the problem still persists with our 30-day trial version:

    If the problem still exists, please send the file to our support team using the contact form at

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 10:34


    Polskie tłumaczenie jest zdecydowanie na naszej liście życzeń dla przyszłych wersji. Proszę jednak zrozumieć, że nie możemy jeszcze dostarczyć Państwu ram czasowych.

    [A Polish translation is definitely on our wishlist for future versions. However, please understand that we cannnot provide you with a timeframe yet.]

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 10:23

    Jane Olivier: SoftMaker Office 2018 comes with commercial spellcheck dictionaries for many languages. If you're not satisfied with them, please don't hesitate to send us your suggestions for improvement. However, please understand that we can't handle comprehensive discussions about feature requests within the framework of this blog. Because of this, we would like to ask you to address your suggestions to our support team:

    As far as we can estimate in this context, the other tasks you described should be manageable with SoftMaker Office as well. To get help with that, please contact our support team using the link above. Thank you very much!

  • SoftMaker posted by SoftMaker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 10:01

    Roy Martin: Although we don't include a "purebred" desktop publishing application in our office suite, TextMaker 2018 comes with many great DTP features. You might want to give it a try with our free 30-day trial version:

  • Christian posted by Christian
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 09:52

    Hi. I would have liked to be able to type a pdf document straight from the software. If I'm not mistaken I must first type an odt document and then change it into pdf with Ashampoo pdf pro. Is that right ?
    Best regards

  • Amrish Patel posted by Amrish Patel
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 09:18

    Dear Sirs

    Is this fully compatible with Microsoft OFFICE???

    And what if I want to try this for some weeks before making the purchase, would that be possible?

    Kind regards
    Amrish Patel

  • Denis A.J. Horn posted by Denis A.J. Horn
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 08:59

    I would certainly like to see if there is something like Outlook included in the Office 2018. Then I am very interested.

  • Walter Van Turnhout posted by Walter Van Turnhout
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 08:47

    What video and audio formats are now supported in Presentations ?

  • david haigh posted by david haigh
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 08:35

    where's the conditional formatting and macro

  • posted by
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 08:19

    One question,when does softmakers office come in Norwegian?

  • Hans Maerker posted by Hans Maerker
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 07:44

    I worked over years with many software programs, and subsequently with their updates of course. However, this one here - for your new Office 2018 - is the best I've seen in years. Well done guys!

    Hans Maerker

  • Leslie Reisz posted by Leslie Reisz
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 06:02

    Your product is marvelous, the best of Microsoft office clones. But, sincerely: compatbility: definitely npt.(In the 2016 version) If I saved my table in "xlsx" the ordinary MS failed to open it. In the old form, I gave a (false) virus-warning. To achieve correct compatibility, I have to open it in Linbeoffice then re-save... The one quesation of mine, is the new 2018 in portable version? Thanks for your patient! (Beside of this, I have affairs with different offices, the Softmaker's is the BEST.

  • Dave Beedon posted by Dave Beedon
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 05:51

    The ribbon is just as confusing and user-unfriendly as the one MicroSoft developed years ago. I would never use a menu like the ribbon. I am using Office 97 because it is easy to understand and use.

  • posted by
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 05:35

    This looks like a pretty comprehensive product. What is the pricing like? Also, if I were to buy this product, is it only a license that will have to be renewed like Microsoft does, or is it just you buy the product and use it?

  • Steve Gray posted by Steve Gray
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 05:23

    I hate MS word but am fully entangled with it. I need something fairly compatible but without Word's flaws (bugs, missing features, lousy design decisions). My application is a long, complex book (935 pages) with page headers, 6 indexes, hundreds of tables, 2000 endnotes, a few footnotes, lots of cross-refs, about 100 partial tables of contents, adjustable page and margin sizes, and more.

    Question: why do you show the same mouse action repeated indefinitely?

    I welcome a reply.

  • Olakunle Aruleba posted by Olakunle Aruleba
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 05:21

    Awesome office suite. I do have a word file which softmaker office 2018 beta didn't not open properly. It will be good if this can be fixed.

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