by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 13, 2019)
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.
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