Turning Off the Insert Column and Insert Row Tools

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 7, 2020)


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 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.

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.

It is possible to turn off this tool if you find this feature too distracting by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. Display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box, click Advanced.
  3. Scroll down, if necessary, to navigate to the Display section. (See Figure 3.)
  4. Figure 3. The Display section of the Advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Clear the Show Pop-Up Buttons for Adding Rows and Columns in Tables checkbox.
  6. Click OK

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, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

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 seven more than 1?

2020-03-29 10:18:37

Bill Blakey

Hi Allen,

Word 2013 made it quicker to add rows to tables. In Word 2010 you had to right click on a row in your table and a drop-down menu appeared from which you chose “Insert Row”, with a choice of “Above” or “Below”. In Word 2013 if you hover near the left-hand edge of a table by the dividing line between two rows a plus-sign appears, and if you click it a blank row is inserted.

The problem I am having in Word 2016 is sometimes I load a document and that plus sign appears, and sometimes I load the same document and however much hovering I do, I can’t get the plus-sign to appear.

I am talking here about a document which I update once or twice a week, usually to add rows. If I load it and don’t get the plus-sign I know I’m done for that session. Even closing it and re-opening it doesn’t seem to make a difference and I have to use right-click and “Insert Row” from the drop-down menu. But then next day the plus-sign is back and working again.

Why does this happen and is there anything I can do about it? The “Show pop-up buttons for adding rows and columns in tables” box in settings is checked.

BTW for some reason I have stopped receiving your tips.

Best Regards

2019-12-11 12:55:04


There is no option in Windows 10 to change the table add row/column bubble. This VERY FRUSTRATING! I have reached out to Windows developers but they have completely ignored me. I have to add "revision bars" to display changes I have made in documents but the Bubble gets in the way of moving/deleting these lines from the area. We, as users, should have more say and options in how it works. Each user has their own ways and customizing is the smartest thing a developer can allow. I sincerly wish i could use a different Windows version until they figure out all of the nuances, except my company will not allow me to do this.

2019-08-17 10:08:19


This "feature" sucks big time! As a person who works with lots of windows open and little screen space, my fonts are small and mouse accuracy is critical. I also work fast. And when I need to select a row of a table that has only a narrow row height, I'm constantly trying to find that sweet spot to select the entire row instead of that annoying "add row" icon that pops up. How hard is it to cut and past to add a row or column?

2019-07-30 18:56:28

Jim Mourgos

Not true. You can turn off this tool.

File > Options > Advanced > Display and Uncheck the Show pop up buttons for adding rows and columns in tables

Jim Mourgos

2019-07-21 22:43:53

Adam Eyles


Apologies guys - per previous comment by Jannee - you can't seem to do it in Version 10.
I was going off an older version.

If anyone knows how, please add a comment and apologies for any confusion.


2019-07-21 22:39:49

Adam Eyles

You can turn it off as follows:

Not sure when it was added as an option, but it works in Word 2016 (version 1904).

Word Options -> Advanced -> Display -> Uncheck "Show pop-up buttons for addling rows and columns in tables"

2019-05-03 14:51:59


Unfortunately, I don't think that Word Option - Advanced - Display - Uncheck ... exists in Windows 10 version of Word. I don't see it anywhere. If anyone knows otherwise, or another way to turn it off, please let me know.

2019-05-03 14:24:29


This is a horrible feature. I need to cut and paste rows in my tables and it takes me an hour to update a table where it normally takes 15 minutes. It keeps wanting to add rows. It's trial and error, sometimes I can get it to work if I'm really fast. Every time you point to a row you get that circle with a plus sign. Even if you click outside the table as soon as you hover over the table it comes right back. There has to be a way to turn it off!

2019-03-05 22:20:06

C Chin

Does this Word Options - Advanced - Display - Uncheck "Show pop-up buttons for addling rows and columns in tables" exists in Office 2016 Stanard - Open License Edition for Government ?

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



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

2017-12-11 14:35:06


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


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


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

2016-04-20 15:32:32


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


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



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

2015-02-24 10:39:58

Michelle Allegretti


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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