3 Easy Ways to Work Faster in Microsoft Project 2016

red-fox-1006541_1280There are many things I point out to people attending my training classes to help them use Microsoft Project more efficiently. Usually, the first thing I’ll show students is how to adjust the Quick Access Toolbar. In this brief article I’ll show you three ways to update your toolbar to speed up your Project work.

First, however, exactly what is the Quick Access Toolbar? It allows a user to add the most frequently used buttons from the ribbon interface to the top left side of the screen for easy accessibility. This figure shows what the Quick Access Toolbar looks like:


Now, let’s go to my suggested additions.

First, I recommend you add anything that you find yourself using daily or that you’re constantly searching for in the ribbon interface. During training classes I typically recommend adding the following:

Scroll to Task

This button lets a user select a task. Once you click the “Scroll to Task” button, the Gantt Chart will automatically scroll to the selected task, bringing it into view. However, this button is normally located in the Editing section of the task ribbon, making for a lot of clicks. Because I use this button all the time, it’s my number one item to add to the quick access toolbar. In fact, I rely on this button so much, I put it to the far right of the toolbar for even faster access.

Cleanup Cache

When using Project, you should clean out your cache from time to time. Unless you’ve done this a few times, you may have trouble remembering the process (File | Options | Save tab | Clean up Cache). Adding the button saves you the hassle.


It’s also important in Project to publish your updates once you’ve made significant changes, such as adjusting durations of assigning resources so that these changes are reflected within Project Web App. To encourage this behavior, make it easy by adding the Publish button to your Quick Access Toolbar. Also, I advise you to place this button next to the save button so that you get into the habit of clicking “Save,” waiting for the save to complete, then clicking “Publish.”

How to Modify the Quick Access Toolbar

Adding items is simple. Just right click on any button in the ribbon and select “Add to Quick Access Toolbar”:


Or you can click on the Quick Access Toolbar drop down and select “More Commands…”


From this menu you can select any command — even those not found in the ribbon, such as “Cleanup Cache.” (You’ll need to select “All commands” to find the Cleanup Cache button since it’s not listed in the “Popular Commands”).

Below you can see the modifications that I have made to my Quick Access Toolbar:


There you have it, a simple technique for optimizing your every-day activities with your favorite project management software.

Got your own Quick Access Toolbar favorites? Tell us in the comments below.

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Written by Tom Henry
Tom Henry is the PPM Practice Manager at Projility, where he leads a team of experienced project and portfolio management consultants in making clients more adept, productive and profitable. Tom has been involved with PPM since graduating from Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom, working first in London and then moving to the United States to further pursue his career. Tom prides himself on being able to understand his clients' needs and translating those needs into simplified PPM solutions. Contact Tom at tom.henry@projility.com.
  1. How delightful to find another great idea! MS Project is like an iceberg that one gets used to living only on the surface and has no idea of how much can be brought to the surface. Thanks Tom!

  2. To add more tools to the Quick Access Toolbar than fit in the upper left space, at the bottom of the toolbar’s drop-down is “Show below the Ribbon”. Then the full width of the screen is available. Other tools to gather conveniently are those used in updating a task, e.g. “Mark on Track”, “Update Tasks”, and “Move Incomplete Parts to Status Date”. Also, “Hide Subtasks”, “Show Subtasks, and “Show All Subtasks” are convenient to have together.

  3. Tom, one further idea: I found that Publishing first always triggers a Save and therefore I am now only clicking Publish when I want to accomplish both… Eric

  4. my equivalent of GoTo in P6’s relationship sections for each activity
    1. Click ‘Task’ tab, then ‘Inspect’ in centre of ‘tasks’ subsection (add to quick start menu), which gives a new pane at the left
    2. Split the screen and change to ‘Relationship Diagram’ at the bottom, you can click on predecessor or successor to view detail in the Task Inspector pane (tab TASK, section ‘Tasks’, middle one, ‘Inspect’) – see 24 above to split the screen
    3. Click on any task in the spreadsheet portion of the Gantt chart. If you click onto the predecessor or successor in the bottom portion you need to go back to the spreadsheet portion before the F5 below
    4. Use F5 to GoTo to predecessor or successor to step around
    5. If the bar is outside the Gantt chart portion of the screen, use the ‘Scroll to Task’ Ctrl+Shift+F5, or ‘Task’ tab the extreme right ‘Editing’ portion – or add to quick start menu
    6. You can also see predecessors, driving predecessors, successors, driving successors – if you haven’t already formatted the Gantt chart to show critical – by using the ‘Format’ tab, then ‘Task Path’ in the middle of Bar styles subsection – or add to the quick start menu. Remember to turn this OFF!!

  5. Here are a few more hints.

    ctrl-G, then task ID number to navigate quickly up and down the task list
    ctrl-D to fill a cell contents down a list.
    Alt-shift-right and Alt-shift-left for indent, outdent
    F2 to put the cursor in the cell

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