User settings that might impact the default Office experience or may require special consideration in your environment, are worth investing in planning time because you’ll often have only one chance to get deployment right.

Use Preference over Policy

Most of the Office user settings can be set as either a default/preference, by customising the Office deployment, or as a policy via Group Policy. The main difference being that a preference is set only during the initial launch of an Office application, whilst a policy may be set on every logon (whether the user launches an Office application or not). This is an important distinction – a preference only needs to be set once and only requires processing at first run, whereas a policy has the potential to be processed at every logon.

Hosted desktop environments where user profiles might be managed with custom solutions might result in GPOs being processed at every logon, even though the GPO has not changed. Judicious use of preferences vs. policies should reduce Group Policy processing time and thus logon time.

I recommend carefully considering each user setting and setting it as a preference instead of a policy wherever possible. Use a policy only where settings must be enforced.

Note that if you are deploying Office 2013 with Click-to-Run (App-V), then this level of setting user defaults will not be possible.

Office Customization

Office 2013 customisation and deployment is already well covered in the documentation available on TechNet, so in this article I’ll only cover some highlights and recommendations.

To manage an Office 2013 deployment, copy the Office source files to a folder and ensure you’ve downloaded the latest updates and service packs. Extract these and copy into your Office setup folder under Updates. These will then be installed along side Office during setup.

To create an Office Setup Customization, download the  Office 2013 Administrative Template files (ADMX/ADML) and Office Customization Tool. After extracting the Office Customization Tool download, copy the Admin folder to your copy of Office 2013 setup and create a new Setup Customization File for Office 2013, by running: SETUP /ADMIN

The Office Customization Tool will launch:

![CreateCustomizationFile](/media/2012/11/CreateCustomizationFile_thumb.png](/media/2012/11/CreateCustomizationFile.png)

Choose the default file types:

FileTypes

Set licensing options and the display level of the setup UI. These options will vary dependant on whether you’re using KMS or MAK licensing and how you’re deploying Office:

Licensing

Navigate to the ‘Modify user settings’ page and set the options applicable to your environment. This is the section where the administrator can make changes to the default user experience:

UserSettings

When saving your customization file, you can choose to save it to the Updates folder where it will run automatically, or use SETUP.EXE to run a specific customization file.

If you save the customization file to the Updates folder, use a descriptive name for the file, but also add “1_” (without quotes) to the file name. This will ensure that the customization MSP will be applied before any other updates.

User Settings Recommendations

The following table lists a number of user settings across each of the Office 2013 applications that I recommend you take a look at. This is just a small subset of the total number of settings, but includes some of the most important ones.

The status of each setting will vary dependant on the environment. Use at your own risk.

Product Path Setting Recommended Values
Microsoft Access 2013 Miscellaneous Disable the Office Start Screen for Access Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Excel 2013 Excel Options - Save Default file format Enabled, Excel Workbook (*.xlsx)
Microsoft Excel 2013 Miscellaneous Disable the Office Start Screen for Excel Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Global Options - Customize Allow roaming of all user customizations Enabled
Microsoft Office 2013 Privacy - Trust Center Disable Opt-in Wizard on first run Enabled
Microsoft Office 2013 Privacy - Trust Center Enable Customer Experirnce Improvement Program Disabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Privacy - Trust Center Automatically receive small updates to improve reliability Disabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Privacy - Trust Center Send Office Feedback Disabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Privacy - Trust Center Allow including screenshot with Office Feedback Disabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Subscription Activation Do not show ‘Manage Account’ link for subscription licenses Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Subscription Activation Automatically activate Office with federated organization credentials Disabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Services Disable Roaming Office User Settings Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Services - Fax Disable Internet Fax feature Enabled
Microsoft Office 2013 Downloading Framework Components Hide missing component download links Enabled
Microsoft Office 2013 Microsoft Office Picture Manager Disable File Types association dialog box on first launch Enabled
Microsoft Office 2013 Miscellaneous Show SkyDrive Sign In Disabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Miscellaneous Block signing into Office Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Miscellaneous Disable the Office Start screen for all Office applications Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Miscellaneous Disable Office Backgrounds Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 Miscellaneous Suppress recommended settings dialog Enabled
Microsoft Office 2013 First Run Disable First Run Movie Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Office 2013 First Run Disable First Run on application boot Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft OneNote 2013 OneNote Options - Other Add OneNote icon to the notification area Disabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Outlook 2013 Outlook Social Connector Turn off Outlook Social Connector Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Outlook 2013 Outlook Social Connector Do not show social network info-bars Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Outlook 2013 Outlook Options - Preferences - Calendar Options - Office.com Sharing Service Prevent publishing to Office.com Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Outlook 2013 Outlook Options - Other - AutoArchive AutoArchive Settings Disabled
Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 PowerPoint Options - Save Default file format Enabled, PowerPoint Presentation (*.pptx)
Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 Miscellaneous Disable the Office Start Screen for PowerPoint Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Project 2013 Miscellaneous Disable the Office Start Screen for Project Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Publisher 2013 Miscellaneous Disable the Office Start Screen for Publisher Enabled | Not Configured
Microsoft Visio 2013 Visio Options - Save - Save Documents Save Visio files as Enabled, Visio Document
Microsoft Visio 2013 Visio Options - Advanced - General Options Put all settings in Windows registry Enabled
Microsoft Word 2013 Word Options - Save Default file format Enabled, Word Document (*.docx)
Microsoft Word 2013 Miscellaneous Disable the Office Start Screen for Word Enabled | Not Configured