Turning Off the Insert Column and Insert Row Tools

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 13, 2019)

13

Gary notes that as he works in a table and moves the mouse pointer above a line dividing two columns or to the left of a line separating two rows, he sees a "circled plus sign" appear, indicating that he can click to insert a column or row. Gary finds this feature to be distracting and more trouble than it is worth, so he wonders if it is possible to turn it off.

The Insert Column and Insert Row tools are a recent addition to Word, having first made their appearance in Word 2013. You can see the tools when, as Gary said, you move the mouse pointer above a column divider or to the left of a row divider. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Insert Column tool.

If you click on the plus sign, then Word dutifully adds either a column or row, as appropriate for the tool. For some people—like Gary—the tool is a bother, as it can be a bit confusing where to actually click to get the results you want. For instance, you may be trying to change the width of columns or height of rows by dragging the dividing lines, but if you click at the wrong time you end up actually adding an unwanted column or row.

Unfortunately, there is no way that I can find to disable these tools. The addition of the tools did complicate some traditional table operations (as in the width and height changes), which means that a user now has to be a little more careful in watching where they click. (Or double-checking before actually clicking.) It is, for instance, possible to still be pointing inside the tool's plus sign and have the mouse pointer change to show you are going to select a column or row. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Insert Column tool can be very picky when it comes to mouse pointer location.

Despite these potential "gotchas," there is no way to turn off the tools. (Let the user beware.) Perhaps Microsoft will make a change in the future, but at this point such a change would be mere speculation.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13154) applies to Microsoft Word 2013.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is 7 - 4?

2019-02-15 17:04:08

Amy Crowns

It is possible to turn these tools off.
Word Options - Advanced - Display - Uncheck "Show pop-up buttons for addling rows and columns in tables"


2019-02-13 10:17:48

Jennifer Thomas

@elektrokitty - THANK YOU! You are my 'most valuable person of the day' for sharing that and saving my sanity!


2019-02-13 07:53:17

Erik Eilertsen

About the insert column or row tool (the little + in a circle). It only works if you actually go to the TOP of the dividing line so you can do everything as normal and use the drop down menus or the ribbon just avoid the point of intersection of top line and a column border.
In order to do other commands or make rows wider etc as long as you only click on the line well away from the top line / column intersection the table will behave as we have become used to.
That new tool is something created by someone who does not use the facility and who discovered it and thought it would be novel when in fact it is like tits on a boar hog


2017-12-12 09:50:02

Andrew

@elektrokitty

Added in 2016, I believe. For those of us still with earlier versions: tough noogies!


2017-12-11 14:35:06

elektrokitty

I found the option to disable this as it was driving me insane as well.
File > Options > Advanced > under Display, uncheck 'Show pop-up buttons for adding rows and columns in tables'
The end, now you can sleep better at night.


2017-07-31 13:38:41

Dawn

Have you ever seen here the one click insert disappears? I have a colleague who will try to add a row or column using the Insert Column/Insert Row, but it does not appear--only in some rows/columns when he hoovers over the edge of it. any thoughts?


2017-01-25 09:28:29

Disgruntled

Once again, Microsoft decreases the value of their product with an "upgrade".


2016-04-20 15:32:32

csh

I had this same question and couldn't find an answer. The tool seemed to be there (or not) randomly.
I finally figured out that the plus sign tool will appear if your cursor is clicked in a cell of the table. It does NOT appear if your cursor is outside the table. Viola!


2015-12-08 13:42:32

Ross K

I find this feature highly annoying. I really want a way to turn it off.
I append rows to the bottom of a table, or right click insert if I want to add rows.
I really would like a way to turn this "feature" off.
The dominate user action for tables is not to add rows in the middle, but to enter information and set formatting.


2015-06-09 00:36:39

brandi

I could REALLY use this as well!


2015-04-21 11:20:38

C Scott

The Insert Column/Row Tool appears to be disabled when working in Draft View.

That's not an overall fix, but it might help some.


2015-04-02 08:01:22

Bernadette

Hello

I am extremely keen to find a way of turning of that tool too, so maybe someone else out there has figured it out?
Please.


2015-02-24 10:39:58

Michelle Allegretti

Hello,

FYI - I had this feature and now it's off. I use a lot of keyboard keystrokes so I'm not sure how I turned it off. I found your site looking for a way to turn it back on so I can demo it. So - there is some way to turn it off.


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