Get Your Way, Every Time: 7 Default Settings in Minitab You Didn’t Know You Could Change

little girlUnless you’re 3 years old, you probably can’t have things just the way you want them all the time.  

You can’t always have peanut butter and ranch dressing on your toast. Or ketchup on your pineapple. Or sugar sprinkles on your peas.

But there is one small arena in life over which you can still exert your control. 

Tools > Options in Minitab's statistical software allows you to change selected default settings in the software, without having to throw a temper tantrum first.

This powerful, underutilized feature in Minitab may save you from the inconvenience of having to change a default setting over and over again, every time you use the software. To open it in Minitab, choose Tools > Options.

tools option menu

In the  left pane, expand nodes to see the list of default options you can modify. Once you change an option, it becomes the default setting every time you open Minitab.

Here are 7 default settings you may find it useful to customize:

 1. Add Worksheet Names to Every Graph

Worksheets, worksheets, everywhere. Graphs galore. Once you start creating graphs from multiple worksheets in a project, it can get pretty confusing trying to sort out which graph was created with which worksheet.

The solution? Have Minitab automatically print the name of the worksheet used to create the graph right on the graph itself:

tools option worksheet name

Now you’re set. No need to go back and try to match worksheets with graphs. Or manually add text boxes to indicate the worksheet for each graph.

worksheet name

2. Customize Default Descriptive Statistics

Not a fan of SE of Mean? Third quartile just doesn’t do it for you? Prefer to see the variance and range displayed by default? 

Avoid getting carpal tunnel syndrome from repeatedly checking and unchecking statistics every time you perform Stat > Basic Statistics> Display Descriptive Statistics. Define your dream list of descriptive stats for Minitab to display by default.

tools options desc stats

3. Define a Go-to List of Special Cause Tests for Control Charts

There are 8 tests for special causes that you can use to flag out-of-control points on a Minitab control chart. Using more tests increases the sensitivity of the control chart, but may also increase the rate of “false alarms.” That’s why the type and number of tests used often depends on your application and your industry. Your company may even have specific guidelines for which tests to use.

To avoid changing the default tests every time you create a control chart, select your preferred tests in Tools > Options. Note you can also change the default number of data points used for each test.

tools options tests

4. Enable Command Language

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a faraway land, users could only operate Minitab by using a cryptic, mysterious code called command language. Although those geek glory days of Minitab have long since passed, there still exists a die-hard subset of Minitab users who prefer to go commando.

Rather than having to choose Editor > Enable Commands at the start of every new Minitab session, these high-tech samurais of yore can enable the command language by default, so it appears automatically in the Session window every time they open Minitab:

command  language

(If you don’t know what command language is, ignore this tip. You may never need it!)

5. Modify the Size and Font of Input/Output

Eyesight not what it used to be? Fussy about fonts? Don’t waste time searching for your reading glasses or trying to change fonts and colors after the fact.

You can modify the default style of characters in your output (in both session window and graphs), or the data values and column labels in your worksheets.

tools options fonts

6. Change the Default Bar Chart Setup

Tend to make a bar chart the same way every time? For example, do you usually create it from data values summarized in a table in the worksheet? Annoyed that you always have to change the default setting to do it that way?

Quoth the Tools > Options raven: “Nevermore!”

crow tools option

7. Give Me My Benchmark Z's...or Else!

Some quality improvement specialists prefer their capability analysis output expressed in terms of the sigma-capability of a process, otherwise known as Benchmark Z (or Z-bench).

There’s no need for Z-bench lovers to make a special request for these calculations every time they run a capability analysis in Minitab:


What If You Change Your Mind Like a Toddler...10 Seconds Later?

The great thing about changing default settings in Tools > Options is that they’re easy to change back at any time.

And if you don’t remember what you’ve changed and what you haven’t, you can change all the settings back to their original defaults in one easy maneuver:

  1. Choose Tools > Manage Profiles > Manage.
  2. Move all profiles from Active Profiles to Available Profiles. (So the Active Profiles field is blank.)
  3. Click OK.

If that doesn't do it, try this workaround:

  1. Roll naked on the floor.
  2. Flail your arms and kick your legs.
  3. Scream at the top of your lungs.

Repeat as necessary until someone gives you the default settings that you want. It never fails...

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