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LibreOffice 5.3: New Feature Review

by Meemaw

Each new update of most any program will present fixes, of course, but will also usually add new features. LibreOffice is no exception. Besides the new Notebookbar, which is getting mixed reviews, LO has added several new features. The release notes are here. Let's look at a few here. I must confess that a couple of these may have been present in LO 5.2.5, but 5.3 was released within two weeks of 5.2.5, so these may have run together.


Go to Page Dialog

Writer has a new dialog for quickly jumping to another page that is available through Edit > Go to Page or Ctrl+G. If you have a multi-page document, this will be faster and easier than scrolling.

The Styles and Formatting tool has a new addition: the tables format tool. If you add a table, then go to Styles and Formatting, the last icon across the top of the window is the tables formatting.

The Draw toolbox has an extended arrows section that even shows up in Writer and Calc. If you use arrows a lot, you can even use it as it's own toolbar or window.


There is a change in the format options available in Format > Cells > Numbers and in the Sidebar. You can format for fractions now, which I've never seen before, or for scientific expressions. You are reminded of the expected format at the bottom of the window so you can get things entered correctly. Shown below are the Format Cells window, and also (at right) the Format Cells section in the sidebar.


The draw functions have always been visible in Draw, but now you can access them in Impress as well. Just go to View > Toolbars > Drawing as usual. The draw toolbar can be placed on the top, bottom or sides of the window.

It is now possible to export to PDF only the notes pages of your presentation. You will have to use the File > Export to PDF menu to change the settings.

The Template Manager has a new user interface which looks easier to use.


The colors have been updated. From the release notes:

  • Fix recent colors
  • The custom palette is newly added, which allows colors to be added directly in the area style dialog,
  • Custom palette makes the manipulation of factory settings via Tools > Options > LibreOffice > Colors obsolete -- and hence we deleted this option,
  • The palettes gallery, web, cmyk, and scribus were removed because of the non-standard and rather arbitrary collections with inappropriate names,
  • Tango and html palettes received minor updates for labels and arrangement of colors,
  • The standard palette was also refreshed. The first row now starts with 12 shades of gray followed by 12 basic colors from the HSV color wheel. The next rows are variations of these basic colors in respect to saturation and luminance by 66%, 50%, and 25%. The final 12x8 arrangement fits perfectly into our color picker grid,
  • The palette breeze has been added to the default set. It comprises all values known from the KDE human interface guidelines as an alternative to tango,
  • Completely new is the tonal palette. It aims to provide a set of colors with the same luminance respective color contrast,
  • The palette freecolour-hlc based on the CIE LAB color model has been added. Its purpose is to provide a cross-media safe set of colors targeting expert publishers.

In short, some ineffective color palettes have been omitted, a few updated ones have been added, and the selection window has been changed, even in the toolbar, so you can use whatever palette you want.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can now appear in context menus and visibility can be set in Tools > Options > View > Menu.

However, so far, I have the shortcuts shown no matter which setting I choose.

Extension Manager

From the release notes:
Revamped the Extension Manager dialog; replaced the custom-implemented error-prone buttons and behaviours with compatible standard widgets and behaviours, and fixed various bugs in the process. The Extension Manager now provides a better user experience and accessibility.

Adding extensions seems a bit easier to me now. I remember having trouble with some of them. I don't use very many extensions, but a few of them are very handy.

There's one called GeoMap, which will insert a map into your Writer document for an address you list. I'm still playing with that one. I live in a rural area outside of my town, so many of the maps turn out almost blank, because there are less streets (and apparently less accurate addresses), so it is no help. If you live in the city (or at least in town) the map shows up well. You are given a GeoMap toolbar (which is only one icon, a compass, outlined in red below), and clicking on it, you see a window that contains several variables.

Input the address you want, change the height and width to the desired size, adjust the zoom from 1 to 17 depending on how close you want to zoom (1 is farthest out), and click preview. If it looks the way you want, click OK. As far as I can tell, you have to click Abort and start over if it's not how you want it.

Format > Page

This window has some changes as well, mostly in the Area Dialog.

This menu has had a redesign and expansion. When you open it, you will see buttons that say None, Color, Gradient, Bitmap, Pattern and Hatch. Clicking on one of them (None is selected by default) will open the menu for that area and allow you to choose what you want.

Customization Dialog

The Customization dialog has been updated, and is more user friendly. It has customization sections for Menus, Context Menus, Keyboard Shortcuts, Toolbars and Events. It seems much easier to use, and adding a command is easier than it used to be.

So far it works pretty well for me, except that it has crashed while searching the fonts list. It may be because it has removed support for a few my system still has.


As they add improvements to LibreOffice, I am liking it more and more. I like the optional toolbar setup, so one can use whatever they want. My computer at work has to have MS Office on it, but I have LibreOffice installed as well. I use LibreOffice by default because I dislike the "ribbon" in MS Office: it's actually one of the main reasons I continue to use LibreOffice.

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