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This is a huge issue for people who upgraded to 2015.4 or 2017 but are still using smaller or low-resolution monitors.
Take a look at this post to understand both what is going on, and how to deal with it.
And in the first screen shot, just click the ¶ button on the far left of the control panel to be able to see all of the paragraph commands. Click the A to see all of the character commands. You can hide buttons there too, but if you are willing to switch views, you won't need to.
Hi George - yes I had both align and distribute options clicked in on those options, hence my confusion. In the meantime, the options suddenly re-appeared now. I didn't change anything so unfortunately I can't give insight on how to solve this issue, other than that they disappear and re-appear on their own. Thanks Barb for the link - hopefully that will be useful for other frustrated users and myself when this issue reappears!