When Microsoft replaced the old-fashioned menu-and-toolbar interface in Office with the more discoverable ribbon UI, it created a secondary interface for less frequently-used commands. Dubbed Backstage, this interface is accessed like the old File menu and includes many document-related tools.

You can reach Backstage in any Office application by clicking/tapping the File button in the upper-left corner of the application window. (You can also type ALT + F, as you would have in older Office versions to access the File menu.)

While the File button visually resembles a standard ribbon tab, it works quite a bit differently. When selected, it opens the Backstage view, which encompasses the entire application window rather than a new dialog or window.

Each of the menu items on the left changes the view and offers a unique set of options related to the current document. (The bottom two items, Account and Options, are not document related.) While these items are mostly consistent across Office applications, some are slightly different. For example, OneNote doesn’t include Save and Save As items because it is not a document-based solution.

Tip: As is the case throughout the Office applications, you can tap the ALT key in Backstage view to see the keyboard shortcuts that are available for each item. This way, you can learn that ALT F, E will get you to the Export item more quickly, for example.

These items include:

Info. This default view offers information about the current document, including properties (file size, pages, words, and so on for Word documents). Protect Document can be used to prevent changes to the document. Inspect Document is used to check for privacy issues, ensuring compatibility with different Office versions, and check the accessibility of the document. And Versions can be used to recover previous versions of the current document (using File History in Windows 8 or Previous Versions in Windows 7).

New. Here, you can open a new blank document or choose from document templates when available.

Open. This view allows you to open recently-accessed documents, or documents store in SkyDrive, SharePoint, or on your PC.

Save. Choosing this item will immediately save the current document and close Backstage.

Save As. This item will let you save the current document, optionally with a new name and/or to a different location.

Print. This item displays the Office Print experience, which lets you choose between your available printers, configure individual printer settings, and view a preview of what will print.

Share. From the Share experience, you can share the current document (for viewing or editing) via email, a sharing link (to SkyDrive or SharePoint), or, depending on the application, to a social network (Facebook or Twitter), present it online (Word and PowerPoint only), or post it to a blog (Word only). These options vary further from application to application. For example, PowerPoint lets you publish slides to a slide library or SharePoint site.

Export. This option lets you export the document to other formats, or change the format of the document, in ways that make sense according to the application. Most Office applications support exporting to PDF or XPS formats, for example. But PowerPoint can export to a video, a CD-based packaged presentation, and printable handouts.

Close. This item will close the current document, prompting you if required to Save (or Save as) first. (OneNote does not offer a Close option. You can close OneNote notebooks by right-clicking the notebook and choosing Close This Notebook from the pop-up menu that appears.