Word 2004: More on disappearing I-beam cursor

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 28th, 2004 • 4:01 am

Last week I reported on a new bug in Word 2004 that causes the I-beam cursor (blinking insertion bar that indicates where you are in the text) to disappear and makes it difficult to determine where you are in your text.

At the time I said that I wasn’t able to reproduce the bug reliably. Well now I am. More specifically, I have identified two situations that systematically cause the bug to occur.

The first one involves the Clipboard. If you have some text in your Clipboard and press command-V to insert that text in your document, and then if, immediately after pressing the command-V shortcut, you start using the cursor keys (Left and Right) to move the insertion point to the left or right, then you’re likely to encounter the problem.

The other situation involves the Delete key. If you have some text selected in a paragraph, and you press the Delete key to delete it, and then, immediately after pressing the Delete key, you start using the cursor keys, again, you’re likely to encounter the bug causing the I-beam cursor to fail to appear until you stop using the cursor keys.

The key word in both scenarios is immediately. You need to be a fast typist. If you’re a slow typist, you probably won’t encounter the problem, because Word 2004 will have time to blink the cursor once before you hit the cursor keys and the cursor will remain visible. But if you are fast enough, and jump from the command-V shortcut or Delete key immediately to the cursor keys and start using them, then you’ll encounter the problem for sure.

I happen to be a fairly fast typist, and I encounter the problem all the time. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t matter whether you are using the cursor keys by themselves or in combination with a modifier key such as the Option key (to jump from word to word) or the Shift key (to move and select at the same time) or both.

Once again, you can trust Microsoft to manage to introduce new bugs in Word that affect the very basics of word processing (in this case, moving the cursor around). And that such a basic bug made it through to the final version probably says a lot about the thoroughness and reliability of Microsoft’s testing process. Don’t they have any fast typists at Microsoft?

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