OpenOffice vs Microsoft Office

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q.  I've been using the free OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office thanks to your recommendation and I really like it. What I can't figure out is how to stop the automatic conversion of Web site URLs and email addresses into clickable links that are underlined in my documents. How can I turn that off? Thanks, Mr. M.

A.  After using Microsoft Office for more than 15 years, a couple of years ago I switched to OpenOffice. There are a number of reasons I made the change, but primarily because I wasn't happy with the seemingly endless parade of new versions of MS Office, each costing a few hundred dollars and not adding anything of particular value to me.

OpenOffice is free, yet it contains the same components, such as word processing (Writer instead of Word), spreadsheet (Calc instead of Excel), a presentation program (Impress instead of PowerPoint) and a database application (Base instead of Access), all of which are compatible with Microsoft Office.

Turning to your question, click Tools > AutoCorrect Options and remove the check mark beside “URL Recognition.” You will notice check boxes under “M” and “T” column headings. The “M” heading will apply your selection to existing text, in other words retroactively to any existing document. The “T” column will apply any changes to the current document alone. I don't have any “M” items checked because I don't want anything changed that has already been created.

If you do decide to give OO a try, you will find excellent, free assistance at

Q.  My Formating toolbar in Word has popped out over the ruler that appears at the top of the screen. How can I get it back into place under my Standard toolbar?

A.  Right-click the toolbar first to make sure it isn't locked -- assuming you have that option within whatever version of Word you're using.

With toolbars unlocked, you can then drag them, kicking and screaming, by their borders to a new location. Toolbars are intended to be mobile so you can move them wherever you want. Also, look to the far left of the toolbar and you may see a little dotted "handle" that you can use to drag it. Be forewarned, however, that this is easier said than done and usually requires a number of attempts before successfully repositioning toolbars.

If you don't need the ruler, you can toggle that off. In fact, if you go to View > Toolbars, you can enable or disable any of the available toolbars. You may also be able to manipulate things back to the way you want them by disabling any toolbars you don't really need or by adding any that tickle your fancy.

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week
Here you can explore a vast treasure trove of music to your heart's content. Enter the name of one of your favorite songs or artists and let the Music Genome Project work its magic. It will quickly scan its entire catalog of analyzed music -- almost a century of recordings, to find songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. Then sit back and enjoy as it creates a listening experience full of current and soon-to-be favorite songs for you. You can create up to 100 unique "stations." Be sure to read the Pandora FAQ before jumping in.

Recipe Goldmine
Heralding itself as “Better than a thousand cookbooks,” the Recipe Goldmine made its debut in August 1999 and has since evolved into one of the largest and most popular culinary sites on the Web. Its thousands of recipes are easily-accessible using a cookbook-style index and are easy to print. There is even a Pet Foods recipe section. My cats didn't like the Kitty Cookies; they're holding out for a soufflé.

Mr. Modem publishes the weekly "Ask Mr. Modem!” technology-help newsletter at and “Mr. Modem's Top 50 iPad Tips” series at