The file menu at the top of the window in Google Docs is where you go when you need to add something to your document or apply formatting to some text.
So if you don’t see that menu anymore, it can be a pretty big problem.
Fortunately, you are able to restore the menu in one of two ways so that you can continue using the application as normal.
You can fix a Google Docs toolbar missing by clicking the arrow at the right side of the toolbar or by pressing the Ctrl + Shift + F keyboard shortcut.
How to Get the Toolbar Back in Google Docs
- Open your Google Docs document.
- Locate the down arrow at the top-right of the window.
- Click the arrow to restore the menu to view.
Our guide continues below with additional information on showing the Google Docs toolbar, including pictures of these steps.
The menus at the very top of the window in Google Docs provide you with the means to adjust the settings and formats of your document.
Referred to as the controls, these menu options, including File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, Tools, Table, Add-ons, and Help, are important elements of the application that allow you to customize the document as needed.
You can make the menu and toolbar visible again in Google Docs by clicking the downward facing arrow at the top-right of the window.
Since so many of the changes that you need to make to a document, whether it involves formatting text or adjusting the page layout, require you to be able to access this menu, it can really hamper your productivity if you are unable to access it.
If you have text that has a line drawn through it, then our guide on how to remove strikethrough in Google Docs can show you how to change that.
The utility and necessity of these tools would make you think that they should always be present, as it definitely limits your productivity if you can’t use the Format tab or the Edit tab, for example.
However, it is possible for these controls to be hidden, or compacted, to make more of the document visible on the screen. If you have compacted the controls, either on purpose or by accident, then the steps below will show you how to restore them to view.
We also provide you with information on hiding this menu if you decide that you need to do that in the future.
Check out our upload PDF to Google Drive article if you would like to start using Google Drive to store other types of files, too.
How to Restore File, Edit, View, etc. in Google Docs (Guide with Pictures)
The steps in this article were performed in the Web-browser version of the Google Docs application. These steps assume that you are currently unable to see the row of menus at the very top of the screen, including options such as File, Edit, View, Format, etc. By following these steps you will restore those menu options so that they are visible.
Step 1: Go to Google Drive at https://drive.google.com/drive/my-drive and open a Google Docs file.
Step 2: Click the downward-facing arrow at the top-right corner of the window.
Note that you can also unhide these menu options by pressing Ctrl + Shift + F on your keyboard.
You can hide these menus again in the future by clicking the arrows at the top-right of the window again (though they are upward-facing when the File menus are visible) or by clicking the View menu and choosing the Compact controls option. (Editor’s Note – this option to compact controls has been removed in recent versions of Google Docs.)
Our tutorial continues below with additional discussion on restoring the missing Google Docs menu toolbar.
If you have switched to full screen mode instead, and there isn’t anything at the top of the screen, then you can exist full screen mode by right-clicking in an empty space in the window and choosing the “Exit Full Screen” option, or by pressing the Esc key on your keyboard.
Crossing out words in documents can be really useful. You can also do it in emails by following the steps in our guide on how to strikethrough in Outlook.
More Information on How to Fix a Missing Google Docs Toolbar
If you are often switching back and forth between showing or hiding the Google Docs menu and toolbar then it can be useful to learn a faster way to make the switch.
You can hide the controls in Google Docs with the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl + Shift + F (Windows) or Command + Shift + F (Mac.)
Note that this shortcut can both hide and display the controls, so you can use it regardless of which viewing option you currently require.
If you can see the File menu, but you can’t see the row with the different formatting buttons, then it’s possible that you are in “Viewing” mode instead of “Editing” mode.
You can switch to “Editing” mode by clicking the eye icon at the top-right of the window that says “Viewing” if you hover over it, then choosing the Editing option instead. You should then see the row of buttons and icons that let you apply various formatting changes to your document.
If you aren’t able to switch to Editing mode, then you are likely looking at a document where the creator did not provide you with permission to edit the document. You can either create a copy of this document and make changes to that copy, or you can contact the original document creator and ask them to give you editing permissions.
Is your Google Docs file a combination of information that you have assembled from a variety of sources? Often this can result in a mess of formatting settings that make the document difficult to read. Learn how to clear formatting in Google Docs so that you can create a document with a more streamlined appearance.
Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech tutorials since 2008. His writing has appeared on dozens of different websites and been read over 50 million times.
After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science he spent several years working in IT management for small businesses. However, he now works full time writing content online and creating websites.
His main writing topics include iPhones, Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Android, and Photoshop, but he has also written about many other tech topics as well.