Word annoyance: Insert row/column icon appears when try to select a row/column

January 26, 2020

Update: You can now turn this off in recent versions of Word for Office 365 (possibly Word 2016, and 2019 too)! Thanks to Lene Fredborg, who commented on this post (below), the solution is File > Options > Advanced, Display section, clear the Show pop-up buttons for adding rows and tables.

I’ll leave the original post here for the workaround for those on earlier versions that don’t have this option.


Since Word 2013 (Word for Windows, not sure about Mac), you haven’t been able to select a table row or column easily from outside the row/column, without inadvertently inserting what you’re trying to select! Instead of hovering the cursor immediately to the left of the row/above the column and then clicking to select, Microsoft added these (not so) helpful tools that insert a new row/table, and you have to fiddle with the mouse a bit to move the cursor a tad further away to get table row/column select mode. I suspect they added this icon for those using touch screens, but they are more of a curse than a help to desktop users with a keyboard and mouse. More times than not, when I want to select a row/column to delete it, I end up clicking one of these ‘helpful’ icons and add a new row/column instead, which means I now have to delete two rows/columns! This is what one of these not so helpful icons looks like when you hover your cursor to the left of a row:

Outline of table with the insert row icon highlighted

A quick search of the main websites for Word issues indicates that there’s no way to turn these things off.

Possible solution

However, I did come across a way to disable them that may be useful if you have a lot of table manipulation to do, and that’s to switch to draft view, where these tools won’t appear. Switching to draft view is clumsy in itself (Microsoft inexplicably took away the Draft icon from the icons on the right of the status bar several versions ago), but it may be the solution you need if you’re fiddling with the rows/columns on a large table or on several tables:

  • To switch to draft view, go to View > Draft.
  • To switch back to print layout view, click the relevant icon in the status bar, or go to View > Print Layout.



  1. Rhonda,

    There is an option for turning off the buttons. The option was not present when the annoying buttons were introduced but it was added later. You will find it here:

    1. Select File > Options > Advanced.
    2. Scroll down to the Display group and turn off “Show pop-up buttons for adding rows and columns in tables” to get rid of the buttons (it is currently the last item in the Display group).

    /Lene Fredborg, thedoctools.com, wordaddins.com

  2. Wow!!!! Thanks so much, Lene. I’ll add that to the post in case others don’t read the comments.


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