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How to overtype text in Word Apps
So I was typing along in Microsoft Word on a Mac, when all of a sudden I was writing over all of the text -- as if I had pressed the Insert key on a PC. Nothing is listed on any of the menus, or when I searched the help field (that's because the Mac calls it "overtype," which I didn't know at the time).

At the very bottom of the document's screen, there are some bits of information (page, section, total number of pages, etc.). On the far right, there are four abbreviated words: REC TRK EXT OVR, each with a small circle to their left. If you click the OVR word, its circle will turn green and you will write over text until you again click the OVR box.

I searched and searched online and couldn't find info because the word -- overtype -- was not in my personal vocabulary, so I didn't search for it.

[robg adds: Yes, this is a simple hint on a somewhat-obvious feature. But it's one that I actually get asked a fair bit by PC switchers, as the Mac doesn't have an Insert key as such (the Clear key will provide that functionality when booted into Windows on an Intel Mac, however. The REC box starts recording a macro; TRK enables track changes mode; and EXT extends the selection -- such that when you click the mouse, your selection is extended to that point.]
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How to overtype text in Word | 8 comments | Create New Account
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How to overtype text in Word
Authored by: mlopes on Feb 09, '07 08:27:19AM

In the PC the OVR in the Word used to stand for overwrite, maybe that would help in your searchs.



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How to overtype text in Word
Authored by: juandesant on Feb 09, '07 08:48:33AM

I really, really don't know why "overtype", shomething that was useful when the UI for word processors was command-line based, survived the coming of the GUI… In the Mac, Apple decided not to keep the Ins key, and Word was created for the Mac first…

I remember reading Rick Shaut's blog about how this was something added under consumer demand somewhere around Word 6… but I cannot find the post.

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Juan de Dios Santander Vela
Electronics Engineer
Astronomy Software Developer
Ph.D. Student



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How to overtype text in Word
Authored by: JKT on Feb 09, '07 09:58:27AM

All I can say is thankfully no Insert key does exist on the Mac... I can't count the number of times I have inadvertently activated this on my work PC (the key is extremely easy to accidentally press) and subsequently lost work before I've noticed.

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PB G4, 1.5 GHz, 1.5GB RAM, 128MB VRAM, 80 GB 5400rpm HD, SuperDrive, MacOS X 10.4.8

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How to overtype text in Word
Authored by: 44sunsets on Feb 10, '07 04:51:39PM

Agreed. I can't remember the last time I intentionally wanted to turn on overwrite/insert mode.



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How to overtype text in Word
Authored by: incogenator on Nov 03, '09 05:38:50AM

i can't find that overtype button at the bottom of the window on word mac 2008. i think it may have been removed. furthermore, a search for 'overtype' in word's help files does not bring up anything but the option can be set under preferences -> edit -> overtype mode toggle.

i have no idea why this is not documented in the help files by careless Microsoft.



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How to overtype text in Word
Authored by: incogenator on Nov 03, '09 05:44:03AM

"The OVR button in the status bar works with Mac 2004. However, it was was removed in Word 2008. Another option for Word 2008 is to click Customize Toolbars and Menus on the View menu. Click the Commands tab and select Overtype from the All Commands category. Then you can either add the OVR command to a toolbar or create a keyboard shortcut."
from a getsatisfaction.com user



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How to overtype text in Word
Authored by: incogenator on Nov 03, '09 05:44:40AM

The OVR button in the status bar works with Mac 2004. However, it was was removed in Word 2008. Another option for Word 2008 is to click Customize Toolbars and Menus on the View menu. Click the Commands tab and select Overtype from the All Commands category. Then you can either add the OVR command to a toolbar or create a keyboard shortcut.



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How to overtype / overwrite text in Word (2008 & 2011)
Authored by: nadeem on Jun 07, '11 04:31:33AM

Thank you for the tip above here. I rarely use Overtype but occasionally it's invaluable for completing basically assembled forms in word where form authors have relied (a little annoyingly, albeit well intended) on the use of underscores to block out a fillable area.

Just as an fyi, for Microsoft Word 2011 on a Mac, to use Overtype you have the same two options you had on Office 2008.


Option #1: Set in preferences (less useful, bit fiddly, but quick for a one off)

Word > Preferences > Edit > Overtype (toggle box)



Option #2.: Add a Custom Menu command for "Overtype"

View > Toolbars > Customize Toolbars & Menus > (Click "Commands" tab) > (Click "All Commands" filter) > Overtype (drag either to menu or toolbar)

I put under "Edit" menu. If you really want the toolbar button, with Word 2011 and the new "Ribbon", it seems to only let you drag the custom toolbar entry to the toolbar at very top of the Word window.


Hope this helps - I was surprised at how tricky this was to find, too!



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