Software

Tip: Quick toggles on Word’s status bar


When I find a quick and easy solution, I do one of two things -- I cheer or I roll my eyes. This morning, I'm rolling my eyes at myself. Sometimes I wonder if I'm smart enough to make coffee, let alone use a computer.

Here's my story. As a writer, I use Track Changes a lot. This feature documents changes to a document. In earlier versions, it was like fingernails on a chalkboard, but since 2003, the feature is dependable. There's only one thing that still annoys me. I can't tell if Track Changes is enabled. There's no discernible difference in the command's menu icon. (Track Changes is on the Tools menu.) Most toggle commands have a check mark that appears and disappears, but not this one. So, I'd turn it on, meaning to turn it off, and vice versa.

This morning, I found the TRK indicator on the status bar. It was a challenging moment for me. How could I use Word every day, use Track Changes all the time, and not know that was there? Has it always been there or did MS elves slip it in last night while I slept?

But my shock wasn't over. Imagine how I squealed when I double-clicked TRK and it enabled Track Changes. Wow! A second double-click disabled it. I am such an idiot.... Moments like this don't inspire me to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a rocket scientist.

There are four of these shortcuts on Word's status bar:

  • REC: Toggles the macro record feature.
  • TRK: Toggles Track Changes.
  • EXT: Toggles extended selection.
  • OVR: Toggles insert mode.

For an explanation of all the items on the status bar, check Word's Help for "Items that appear in the status bar."

To make my humiliation truly complete, I must admit that I use OVR. How could I use OVR and not even be curious about the other three indicators sitting right next to it? I think that I just assumed I didn't need them. Perhaps the root canal I had on Monday has opened a portal into my brain.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

2 comments
kdavis
kdavis

Thanks for sharing your interesting find! I have had this happen many times. I think we get so focussed on getting a specific job done with what we already know about a tool that we may not look for more efficient ways!

ssharkins
ssharkins

You're right -- I try to pay attention, but you're absolutely right. Sometimes getting the job done seems to mean putting on blinders!

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