Thursday, August 9, 2007

How do I… Turn off overtype with the Insert key in Word permanently?

The first method for turning off the Insert key overtype function comes from the Web site The method uses the Word macro language to circumvent the normal operation of the Insert key, which is a little heavy-handed, but it definitely works. Navigate the Word menus to start a macro recording by clicking Tools | Macros | Record New Macro. You should see the screen shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Record new macro

Change the name of the new macro to something like “DoesNothing” and then click the Keyboard button. Click the cursor in the Press New Shortcut Key box and press the Insert key (Figure B). Click the Assign button and then click the Stop Recording button to stop and save the macro.

Figure B


Now when you press the Insert key, it does nothing.

Another way

You don’t have to record a new macro to turn off the Insert key overtype functionality in Word; you can merely change the keyboard shortcut associated with the Insert key. Right-click on an empty part of a Word toolbar and then click the Customize menu item to reach the screen shown in Figure C.

Figure C


Click on the Commands tab and then click the Keyboard button to reach the screen shown in Figure D.

Figure D

Keyboard shortcuts

In the Categories list box, choose All Commands. Then, in the Commands list box, choose Overtype. Note that the current keyboard shortcut is the Insert key. Click Insert in the Current Keys box and then click the Remove button. There you go — no more inadvertent toggle of the overtype mode is possible because there is no keyboard shortcut anymore.

A compromise

There is, of course, another option to consider. There may come a time when you want to toggle on overtype mode in Word. With the previous two methods, you will have to reverse the process to retrieve the functionality. A better idea might be to change the associated keyboard shortcut to something that is much less likely for you to inadvertently type. So instead of removing the keyboard shortcut, you change it to something like Ctrl+Shift+Insert, as shown in Figure E. Just click the Assign button and now you can avoid the inadvertent overtype but still have access to that feature when you want it. Thus, you are removing one annoyance without creating a new annoyance later.

Figure E

A new keyboard shortcut

You may be wondering about Word 2007. Apparently, Microsoft got the message that the Insert key toggle for overtype was annoying and changed the default in 2007. The Insert mode is off.

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