How can I tame the Office Assistant?

I can't stand the way he appears from nowhere, saying things like “It looks like you're writing a letter. Do you want some help?”

Article contributed by Peter Boulding

To tame him

Right-click on him, select 'Options' and uncheck everything. Now he won't speak until spoken to. 

Note: he is at his most annoying when both Guess help topics and Show tips about ... Using features more effectively are checked. It's this combination that causes him to say, I think you're trying to breathe in and out. Would you like some help?

Note also that you can't tame him when he has already leapt into action in this irritating manner. Reject his offer of help and then follow the above instructions. 

To hide him

Tame him, then right-click on him and select Hide Assistant. He'll creep back into his bottle and won't come out until summoned. (No magic spells required to summon him, just click on the question mark button at the far right of the Standard Toolbar – or press F1; or in Word 2000, select Help + Microsoft Word Help, or Help + Show Assistant.)

To put the cork back in the bottle

Word 97: Find the Office folder called Actors and rename it to (for example) Hams. Now he can't get out. 

Word 2000: See below.

If using Office 97, think twice before corking the bottle. Sometimes he can find the required information when you can't – he's got a weird logic which can, on occasion, hit the mark when the Help index has failed you. 

If using Office 2000, think more than twice.  The Office 2000 Asssistant is a huge improvement on the Office 97 one; it uses an extremely intelligent search engine, and is easily the best means of finding the Help topic you want.

And a warning: if you disable him in any Office program, you've disabled him in all. Your Office Assistant settings apply to the whole Microsoft Office suite.

To place the bottle at the back of the bottom drawer of the old chest of drawers in the garage, next to  three dead spiders and an empty can of WD40

In Control Panel, double-click the 'Add/Remove Programs'  icon. Click the 'Install/Uninstall' tab, and select 'Microsoft Office 97' or . 'Microsoft Office 2000'. 

Click 'Add/Remove...'. Insert the Office 97 CD and click 'OK'.

Click 'Add/Remove...' and clear the 'Office Assistant' check box.

Click 'Continue' and 'OK'.