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MS Word/Excel propensity to select w/mouse

Anyone know how to fix my main usability peeve with Office? (I know, many possible funny answers to this lead-in).

Here's what bugs me: if I'm in an MS Word document, and use the mouse to select some text that's a little off my screen, chances are Word is going to go hog wild, and I'll wind up selecting many, many more pages worth of text than I want to.

Similarly, in Excel, it's all to easy to start out selecting a range of cells with your mouse, but *BOOM* as soon as you move off screen, you've now selected a thousand-plus row range (even if 1400 of the rows are blank).

Now, I know if I use the keyboard, and PgDn, PgUp and (I forget) either ctrl or alt, that I can limit this...but is there anyway I can teach my mouse to be less "selective" - not accelerate so quickly in Word, or NOT select blank areas in Excel.

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Word and Excel selection sucks big time.

For example, try selecting all the text in a Word table cell.

Word somehow thinks it should select a lot more than you indicate.

I used Lotus AmiPro and other word processor, and none had this problem.

Hey, Microsoft, please fix the text selection problems in your products! Even WordStar, Word Perfect and AmiPro got this part right!

Viper Rage
Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Yes this is very annoying. I know of no way to train the mouse, but you can train your hand -- when you are beginning to move off the screen, only budge it a pixel or two past the window. The farther off the screen you drag, the faster it scrolls. So if you only go a tiny bit off the screen it will scroll much more slowly.
Also, there is a shortcut in Excel: Ctl-Shift-8  <--this will select an entire region of data. Sometimes it works well (although it is not always the proper solution to your problem).
Good luck!


Jordan Lev
Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Well as you found out Word Selection sucks but here are a few shortcuts you might find helpful

To select a 'word' just double click it or press F8 twice
To select a 'sentence' just press ctrl key and click on the sentence or press F8 key thrice
To select a 'line' click on the margin before the line
To select a 'paragraph' doube-click on the margin before the paragraph

Code Monkey
Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Even on a smaller scale, MS programs exhibit this overzealous selection.  For example, when you try to select text in IE it will always grab the entire word the cursor is on and the whitespace after.  Very annoying!

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

"For example, when you try to select text in IE it will always grab the entire word the cursor is on and the whitespace after."

The behavior is more nuanced than that. Click and drag in IE, and the first work is selected one character at a time. All subsequent words, though are selected as entire words.

Similarly, if you start the selection inside a word, it selects charaters until you reach whitespace. Then it auto-selects the entire word.

I generally find this useful, since I normally copy/paste entire words and not word fragments or individual characters. But it can be annoying if that's your goal.

David Fischer
Tuesday, March 9, 2004

I haven't found a good mouse-oriented solution, but I use the Shift+arrow keys alternative all the time, and that works pretty well for me. Alternately, put the selection bar at the beginning, scroll to the end, and then Shift+Click to select everything between the old location and the current location.

To echo an earlier poster, I agree Word's "logic" for selecting contents of table cells sucks hard.

John C.
Tuesday, March 9, 2004

BTW, the way whole-word auto-selection is supposed to work is that you try to select a partial word, the tool is nice and selects the whole word (the 99% case), then you can back up (keep holding the mouse down), go over the word again, and it stays in per-character mode.

this works in IE6 and Word 2003, and also previous versions though I remember it sometimes still insisisting on whole-word selection

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Slightly OT:

Try selecting a word with the mouse, keep the button pressed down and watch your CPU usage shoot up to 100%.

Use the keyboard and the CPU is unchanged.

Use the keyboard

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

So is does anyone know of a way to hack this in Office and/or IE.  I'm a java guy, not Win32, but could an enterprising Win32 programmer create some sort of plug-in that would let you configure the way text selection worked in MS Apps?  Or one thing not exposed on some level by an API?

Ken Klose
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

mb, thanks for that tip! It does seem to work, though it takes a bit of practice to figure out exactly how.

To explain it further, try to select "oes seem to wo" in the sentence above. Start by clicking right before the 'o' in "does". Drag to the right, past the beginning of 'seem': both "does" and "seem" will be selected. Backtrack a bit so that only "oes" is selected; now drag to the right again. This time, the selection will be "oes seem". Keep dragging to the right, all the way to "work": the selection will be "oes seem to work". At this point, the instinctive thing (backtrack to the word "to" then go back to "work") doesn't work. Instead, drag to the right one more word (", though"), *then* backtrack to "work" and select only the two letters you want. Ta-da!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


you are my hero! Thanks for that great tip.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, March 11, 2004

In Word you can simply turn off the feature by going to Tools|Options|Edit.

Where it does come in useful is when you want to iitalicize, make bold or underline individual words. if you have the option to select the whole word turned on then you just need to click inside once and press Ctrl + I (or B or U).

Stephen Jones
Thursday, March 11, 2004

guys and gals, F8 used (once) nails a selection anchor and the next leftmouseclick (in Word or Excel 2K) selects the appropriate intervening block. Alt-click in Word selects a column block. Easy, but uncertain if this works in OfficeXP.

(aside)-who remembers <ctrl-k> B or K? Borland rules ok!

I think this outrageous behaviour is designed to help MSwheel mice sales. You can wheel up to your block endpoint if you have a wheel. Can be slow going, though.

Thanks for reminding me of the one thing I hate the most about Word apart from clippy, the search/replace tool, autocapitalisation, the way corporates regard anything outside of a DOC file as nonexistent or invisible (such as test scripts, source code diffs, leave requests or my favorite - team meeting minutes) all saved with the grief made manifest by the LAN support rabbits' cookie cutter installation options. I mention this because there is little point in visiting Tool/Options unless you can control your own box. If the new order allowed futzing, then Office can be tamed into a useful form, but centralized procrustean (look it up) administration ethic brooks no individuality. Even the army quartermaster went one better with, "We have two sizes, too big and too small." Go figure. Do bring in your own mouse if you have to. (feel much better now)

ozzie oldfart
Friday, March 12, 2004

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