(eg. mouse click selects entire word vs. mouse click inserts an active cursor)

I find the mouse click behavior of Windows XP and Windows 7 annoying and intrusive. I don't remember Windows NT being quite this bad, or MacOS 7 - 10 which I used in the nineties.

When I'm using a browser and I click on a text field - for example, the address bar, or a search box - the first thing which happens is the entire field is selected.Subsequent clicks seem to select parts of words, often deciding arbitrarily to exclude or include adjacent punctuation. The same in Excel and other apps, and when trying to rename files, so I'm assuming this behavior comes from a system-wide text handling routine.

I frequently want to edit text, cut out or replace odd parts of the insides of words or chunks of sentences, and often find that to get a simple cursor to insert I have to click the mouse up to 4 times in succession. I've had to do a lot of this recently and it has been driving me insane.

Is there a place at the system level where this can be configured?

In a perfect world, I'd like a single click on a new text area to insert a cursor point, and a rapid double click to select the entire area. Words or text within the area could be selected by inserting a cursor, holding down the mouse button and dragging to the exact point where I want the selection to end - even if that's in the middle of a word. No, I don't need or want Windows to "smart select" a word or sentence for me. I've looked in the Mouse and Accessibility Options control panels (Windows XP). Haven't found anything even close.

  • 2
    I agree, it is a bit erratic when trying to select, you never know what the OS is going to do depending on what program or document you are selecting text in. Just like this text box, first click gets the cursor, second selects the word I am over, third selects all text, but I cannot count on this behavior in all programs or documents. I have also noticed in W7 when single left clicking on something it does not always detect the first click, it takes a second click before Windows responds, again it is erratic, does not always do it but does most of the time, yes it does it on all my W7 systems
    – Moab
    Oct 25, 2010 at 15:53
  • I don't think there's a system-wide setting for this behavior. I think it depends on the GUI framework a particular program uses and whether that framework obeys the Windows UI guidelines. Oct 25, 2010 at 15:54
  • This isn't a perfect world, especially Windows.
    – harrymc
    Oct 25, 2010 at 16:02
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    It's doing that also outside of windows (Word :@ ... such a pain to select since it takes what it wants ...) and on different OS too. I also prefer the concept of putting the cursor where you click and maybe select something bigger when double clicking. Anyway I would like to see a solution for this too
    – Warnaud
    Oct 26, 2010 at 6:59
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    I see no one has provided a true solution yet . . . is it just not possible? I am having the same problem with annoying auto-selection. For those of us with no mouse accuracy, I suppose this is useful. To everyone else it hurts productivity. How do we get the old cursor behaviour back? It seems to be something that was implemented for Windows 7 Jun 25, 2012 at 18:00

5 Answers 5


Here's workaround that I found online:

When you insert the cursor in the middle of a word and start dragging, and the whole word gets highlighted, backtrack the cursor a little then resume dragging in the desired direction. The rest of the word will be 'released' and you will only select the text from the intended point.

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    Where did you found that? Attribution might be required by the orginal source. Apr 3, 2012 at 8:08

The answer is no, Windows does not provide a method of controlling the mouse text selection. Individual apps are allowed to do different things.

Things to remember are the ctrl/shift + left/right combinations can be handy and easier to select the text you want. So I can click in URL for this page, press ctrl+left/right to jump through the url, then hold shift as well to start selecting bits.


Change "clicklock" settings to longer or turn it off in your device settings.

  • 2
    Could you explain where to find the "clicklock" setting?
    – jonsca
    Nov 23, 2012 at 9:23
  • I think he/she means: Open Control Panel, click on Mouse. In here, you can change the mouse settings (sensitivity, double click settings and I guess the 'clicklock' too etc).
    – Dave
    Nov 23, 2012 at 11:34

There is a strong argument for Microsoft to "fix" this as it does have security implications, but like a lot of their issues, it is put in the too hard basket.

A good workaround was to cut more than you need and trim it in notepad.

It is very poor behaviour to ignore a cursor, but the developers have assumed you are cutting whole words and have "missed" the cursor position required. Why it grabs trailing spaces (?) and includes leading quotes when there is no trailing quote is beyond me.

The latest version (2016) allows you to disable word selection in the first place, but "reversing" is generally the way to turn it off once you have begun the selection, like shaking it off really.


This can be disabled in Office, by going to Options -> Advanced, then deselect "When selecting, automatically select entire word".

In Outlook it's a little bit deeper: Options -> Mail -> Editor Options... -> Advanced.

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