Thursday, May 21, 2009

Microsoft Word Overtype *Finally* Fixed

MS Word has an overtype feature. You toggle it on and off via the Insert key. If you look very closely at the status bar at the bottom of the screen, it will say OVR when you in overtype mode. In overtype mode, each character you type causes the current character to be, well, overtyped.

As far as I know, this feature is not used by anybody. I'm not sure, but I think it probably harkens back to pre-PC, terminal days. I suppose there may be some niche uses, involving forms, but I have personally not encountered them--and I have been using Word for Windows since 1989.

This one gets people all the time, and if they don't have a rudimentary model of how Word works, it completely flummoxes them. It most recently happened to my 12-year old son, who is usually pretty sharp with software features. As soon as he ran upstairs, cursing about Word deleting his characters, I recognized the problem.

This feature bug has been around forever. It is just so easy to hit the INS key by accident, and there is only the very subtlest visual cue that it is turned on. It is really criminal that, for lo these 15 years, Micro$oft has stuffed feature upon bloated feature into Word, but has not corrected this small nuisance.

I just noticed, in Word 2007, they have finally done so. Overtype mode has an option setting, and it is OFF by default. It's about time!


  1. Anonymous05:44

    That is why the insert key has been physically removed on all of my windows keyboards. I also have removed the caps lock key. I consider them both to be nuisance keys.

  2. Some days ago my friend had the problem.And he told me how he solved it.All his doc files were corrupted and he didn't know what to do.But he accidentally found in google next program-repair a docx file.It solved the problem in 30 seconds,moreover he knew how utility recover corrupted files in .doc, .docx, .dot and dotx format, as well as *.rtf (Rich Text format).