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How do I turn off the Office Assistant?

Are you familiar with virtual assistants such as Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri or Google’s Alexa? Long before these advanced assistants, Microsoft had a similar concept, called Office Assistant.

Office Assistant was an intelligent user interface that assisted users with getting around Microsoft Office applications by providing information from the Office help center.

Designed to look like an interactive animated character, the most memorable figure was a paperclip named Clipit (or ‘Clippy’).

Merlin the Microsoft Office Assistant

However, the Office Assistant was a short-lived feature. Microsoft made the call and turned off Office Assistant by default in Office XP after receiving a lot of negative feedback from Office users worldwide. Later, they completely removed it from Office 2007 and onward.

Nonetheless, if you are using an older version of Office, it is likely that this feature is still enabled by default. If this feature is a hindrance to you, follow the outline listed below to remove the feature from your computer.

Quick Answer

Do you want to stop Office Assistant from appearing anywhere at all? If you answered “yes” to that, then just follow the steps below to permanently disable the feature on your computer. 

Office Assistant uses pre-made characters to function, and these characters are saved in a folder that is hidden within the Office files directory. Using File Explorer, you can find the following Office folder: C:\Documents and Settings\YourLoginName\Application Data\Microsoft\Office

Once you are inside this folder, look for a sub-folder called Actors. This is where you will find the Office Assistant.

To fully disable it, all you have to do is rename the Actors folder to something different. For example: “Office Assistant,” “Assistant disabled,” “Actors1”, or even “gobbledygook” – as you can see, any new title will work to disable this feature.

You can also turn it off by clicking on the Office Assistant itself. Simply click on the Options button and clear the checkbox next to Use Office Assistant.

Note: The instructions in this article are for Office 97, Office 2000, Office 2002 and Office 2003. In these versions, the Office Assistant is still present in its original, enabled form.

Our instructions were written for Windows XP operating systems. If you’re using an older or newer version of Windows, the instructions may differ slightly.

How to Remove the Office Assistant

This is the longer method for removing Office Assistant if you have decided that you never want to use the program again. Follow the steps in the below method to disable it from appearing in all your Office apps:

  1. Click on the Start menu (Windows icon) in the bottom left of your screen, or press the Windows key on your keyboard.
  2. Choose Settings and open the Control Panel.
  3. Double-click on the Add/Remove Programs button.
  4. Wait for the list of your installed programs to load, then look for your version of Microsoft Office in the list.
  5. Select Office by clicking on it once, then click Change.
  6. Choose the Add or remove features option and click Next.
  7. The Custom Setup window will appear. Choose the option that says Choose advanced customization of applications. Click Next.
  8. Find the Office Assistant(s) under Microsoft Office, Office Shared Features, Office Assistant. Disable every assistant by selecting them and choosing Not Available (indicated with a red X icon) from the drop-down menu.

Note: You have to disable all the assistants on the list to disable Office Assistant as a feature.

  • Once finished, click the Update button to save the changes you have made.

How to hide Office Assistant

Some users find Office Assistant to be a helpful tool, especially if they are still learning how to use Microsoft Office. If you think it could come in handy later, you might want to consider these temporary solutions instead.

Temporarily hide the Office Assistant

You can temporarily disable Office Assistant for a short period. It will still be there if you need it and wish to enable it again. Otherwise, the next time you open an Office application, the Office Assistant will automatically return to normal.

  1. Open any Office programs such as Word or Excel.
  2. Click on the Help menu.
  3. Click Hide the Office Assistant.

Hide the Office Assistant for an entire session

A session refers to the time between opening and closing an Office app. If you don’t want to see the Office Assistant at all during a session, you can easily disable it.

  1. Click on the Office Assistant character to make the Assistant Balloon appear.
  2. Click on Options to see all the options you can change.
  3. Remove the check from Use the Office Assistant.
  4. Click OK to disable the assistant until you open Office again. 

Follow the steps above to disable the Office Assistant according to your needs. Disabling the Office Assistant for short durations is the best bet if you plan on using the feature again in the future.

If you just want a temporary fix and prefer to keep Office Assistant, for now, you can always return to this article to hide or remove the assistant in the future.

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