Screen Tips

One aspect of teaching in another country that I found challenging was learning how to use a program that doesn’t use your native language in the user-interface.

When I first started working abroad, it was never a problem because I always carried my computer with me. I had bought my computer in the UK, so naturally the menus, icons and features were in English.

Then one day my computer died. I believed it lost the will to start up after I got my first Surface. You could plug it in or use the battery power, but when you pressed the on button. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

It wasn’t great timing, but luckily I had saved enough to buy a new computer here in Japan. But it’s Japan, so naturally the menus, icon and features were in Japanese. Regardless of your conversational ability, you may not have come across the specific vocabulary related to computers.

I changed as much as I could to English, but I couldn’t change everything. MS Office’s user-interface remained in Japanese despite my efforts to try and change the language settings. However, there was another option… Screen Tips. Screen Tips are hints that appear in your native language when you hover your mouse over a menu, function, icon, feature or message box.

The term may vary. You may see them referred to as Screen Tips, hints or pop-up hints.

Screen Tips are available from the options menu in most MS Office programs.

The huge benefit of screen tips is that they help you become familiar with using Microsoft Office in a foreign language, so if you find yourself using a friend’s computer or a different office computer you won’t have any problems navigating the program.

Activating Screen Tips

Open the program, go to file and click on options. (The options are usually at the bottom of the list, except in Outlook where is the second from last. Just above exit.) The options dialog will appear and you will likely be looking at the general options. Which is the first category highlighted on the left-hand side.

The user-interface options are at the top of the general options screen.

In the user-interface options you will see the label hint style with a drop down box next to it. The drop down box has three options.

  1. Showing feature descriptions in Screen Tips – When you hover your mouse over a menu, icon or feature, this provides the translation of it in your native language as well as a brief description about what it does.
  2. Don’t show feature descriptions in Screen Tips – When you hover your mouse over a menu, icon or feature, this provides the translation of it in your native language without any further description.
  3. Don’t show Screen Tips – No hints are shown when you hover your mouse over a menu, icon or feature.

This image shows the general options and the drop down list to activate the screen tips.

Outlook General Options
Screenshot of the General Options menu in MS Outlook 2013


As I mention before, Screen Tips is an option available with all MS Office programs.

This image shows the hint style drop down list highlighted in each of the General Options dialogs.

Office General Options
Screenshots of the General Options Dialog as seen in PowerPoint, Word, Excel and OneNote – Office 2013

The Language Settings

Once you have activated the Screen Tips, you may need to go to the language settings.

The language settings are displayed when you click on the category on the left-hand side. (You will see it highlighted in blue on the left-hand side). Its position varies according to which program you open the options menu from.

Excel 5th category down on the left-hand side
Word 6th category down on the left-hand side
OneNote 7th category down on the left-hand side
Outlook 7th category down on the left-hand side
PowerPoint 5th category down on the left-hand side

Outlook Language Options

This screenshot of Outlook 2013 shows the category in 7th position on the left-hand side, but whatever it is on the list, when you click on it, you will see this language settings screen.

At the bottom of the screen, you will a section called Choose Screen Tip Language.

Select your native language from the drop down list and click OK.

If your native language isn’t listed, click on the hyperlink to and your default browser will open a webpage with various language downloads available. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Screen Tip downloads. (It may appear as pop-up hint or hint).

Note: It may open in the language of the country you are residing in. Google Translate has a good add-on for Chrome that allows you to translate entire webpages.

Download Screentips in a new language
Screenshot of Microsoft Office’s Screen Tip download page

This page will appear. You can then select your language of choice from the drop down list and click download.

Note: I recommend to check any terms and conditions, your system requirements and read the installation instructions before downloading.

I hope you have found this page useful. If you have any further questions about Screen Tips, leave a comment or send me a message on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Thanks for reading and take care!