Every application you use comes with defaults that may or may not reflect the way you want to work, and this is true here, as well.
Click Tools on the menu bar and select Options. There are a lot of options here, including OpenOffice.org, Load/Save, Language Settings, Internet, Text Documents, HTML Document, SpreadSheet, Presentation, Drawing, Formula, Chart, and Data Sources. You've no doubt already noticed that although we are working with Writer here, the various components can be configured in this mode, as well. Because there are so many options here, I certainly can't cover them all, and besides, I don't want to bore you. Instead, I'll mention a few things that I think are important and let you discover the rest.
The main OpenOffice.org dialog covers a lot of general options regarding the look and feel of the applications. Take a moment to look at the Paths settings. If you keep your documents in a specific directory, you'll want to set that here. Under Type, choose My Documents, click Edit, then enter the new path to your directory of choice.
Let's move on to the very important Load/Save settings menu (Figure 13-6). If you are constantly going to move documents back and forth between systems running Microsoft Word and your own, you'll want to pay special attention here. Click the plus sign to the left of it, then click Microsoft Office.
Click the Convert on Save (and load) check boxes on, and your OpenOffice.org Writer documents will be saved in Word format by default while your Calc sheets will wind up in Excel format. We're almost there. Although the conversion is pretty automatic here, when you try to resave a document that you have been working on, Writer may still disturb you with the occasional pop-up message informing you of the minuses of saving in Word format.
You get around this with one other change. In the same menu section, click General. Notice where it says Standard file format (Figure 13-7). For the Document type of Text document, click Microsoft Word in the Always save as drop-down list to the right. While you are here (assuming you are making these changes, of course), you probably want to change the Always save as format for Spreadsheet to be Microsoft Excel.
Click OK, and you are done.
I'm not saying that Microsoft's document format is in any way superior?it isn't?but if you have to move back and forth all the time, you don't want to be bothered with doing a Save as every time.
In the Text Document category (in the left-hand sidebar menu), the changes relate specifically to the Writer application. Whenever you start a new document, OpenOffice.org assigns a default font when you start typing. This may not be your ideal choice, and you don't have to accept it. Sure, you can change the font when you are writing, but why do this with every document when you can change it once? Under Text Documents, click Basic Fonts, and you'll have the opportunity to change the default fonts your system uses.
When you are done with the Options menu, click OK to return to the OpenOffice.org application.
Fonts aren't limited to your documents. They also define how those menu options in the menu bar look. This is also true for those little tooltips. The default menu font is Andale Sans UI, and quite honestly, I'm not particularly fond of it, so I changed it the first time I ran OpenOffice.org.
To change it, click Tools from the menu bar and select Options. From the OpenOffice.org category, select Font Replacement. On the left-hand side, choose Andale Sans UI from the list (or type it in), then select a replacement on the right-hand side. (I use Helvetica for my system.) Add the font by clicking on the green checkmark, make sure to click Always, and you are done. As you can see, doing the change isn't really a big deal.