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Why Is My Text Overwritten as I Type?

Users will sometimes experience an issue where AbiWord seems to be deleting existing text while entering new text. This is usually caused by accidentally switching to Overwrite mode. Hitting the "Insert" key toggles between Insert and Overwrite mode. The indicators "INS" or "OVR" will appear in the AbiWord status bar to let you know which mode you are in. In more recent versions of Abiword the cursor will also change colour to Red as this helps make it even clearer that something has changed.

In insert mode, new text is inserted at the cursor.

In overwrite mode, new text begins overwriting any existing text, punctuation, spaces, etc. to the immediate right of the cursor.

_Note that this is a very standard use of the insert key, many word processors and text editors use this feature -- its even available (and probably more commonly used) at a DOS/Windows command prompt._

There are ongoing plans to help prevent new users getting accidently trapped by this functionality. One suggestion is to change the cursor shape in addition to changing the colour (Request 7071) Another suggestion is to allow users to get in or out of Overwrite mode by clicking on the INS OVR idicatorrs in the statusbar. See our request trackings system for more information, Request 7042

Keyboards without an Insert Key

Some keyboards do not have an Insert Key -- for instance, many (most, all?) MacIntoshes and some foreign language keyboards (maps) for the PC.

Heres a note from Bo Parker to the abiword-user list (30 Jan 2003) describing how he solved the problem on a MacIntosh:

A followup: Ive been trying to assign an "Insert" key in Apples X11 on a Mac G4 running Mac OS 10.2.3. Thanks to a tip from an abiword mailing list subscriber (thank you!), Ive been trying to use the xmodmap command to do this. I had tried $ xmodmap -e "keycode 121 = Insert" to assign Insert to the F15 key (keycode 121), but it didnt work. Thanks to a tip from an Apple X11 mailing list subscriber (thank you!), I used the xev command to see what X11 "sees" when I pressed various keys. It turns out that F15 (and F14 and F13) arent detected at all in xev. F12 was detected (keycode 119), so I tried $ xmodmap -e "keycode 119 = Insert" Bingo. F12 successfully switches abiword to "Overtype" mode. Thanks to all for your help!

--- Editorial Comments:

Most recent: Darn, I just edited this page, and my changes got combined with Alan Horkans, and the revision record of his changes no longer exists. _Update: Click on Diffs below, and look at r1.5 and r1.6--Alan edited the page between those revisions, and his changes were listed as r1.6--when I came along and revised the page after Alan (a significant amount of time later, IIRC), r1.6 became attributed to me and included both his and my changes, instead of creating a new r1.7. On twiki.org, this occurs rarely, but when it does, it is usually because the "working directory" for RCS has run out of space (a not uncommon occurrence on SourceForge). Marc Maurer looked into this for one of the two pages that had the problem and found no issue with space (1.5 GB free), but found a message in the log that implied a permissions problem. I want to ask Alan if he ever does anything strange when he edits (edit directly on the server?)? See also ATestPage._

Older: Refactored. _As an exercise of "editorial judgement" I did not add Bo Parker to the list of contributors (because he is quoted and the quote is "properly" attributed). If, in a future refactoring, his quote is "absorbed" into the main text (paraphrased in the refactorers own words), I would then add Bo to the list of contributors. Alternately, I could have added him as a contributor now, but would still have properly attributed his quoted text._


  • With respect to the list of contributors, I typically add a contributors name only once to a page, with the date of his earliest contribution to that page.
  • At the next refactoring (or before) these notes should be moved to a more appropriate page -- maybe AbiWordFaqNotesOnStyle?

-- Main.RandyKramer - 04 Feb 2003

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