We all use editing facilities to change a line of text as we are entering it. There are two principal editing modes within a line, a) "insert mode" which inserts non-editing characters at the point of the cursor, and shuffles text to the right, and b) "overwrite mode", in which non-editing characters simply overwrite whatever character the cursor selects.

Overwrite mode IMHO is left from the days of green-screen CRTs. The only use I have ever found for it is drawing 2-D pictures in ASCII, which I quit doing back in the 80s when real drawing tools became available.

Windows (stupidly IMHO) offers overwrite mode toggle-enabled by use of the INSERT key on the keyboard. (I'd guess Linux/Unix likely follow suit in the usual Windows-envy). I don't ever hit that button because it just puts me in overwrite mode.

However, as I'm typing sometimes Overwrite mode suddenly happens. I think it must be some strange combination of ALT/Windows/CTRL/SHIFT and some other key, or two standard keys depressed in time nearby. Does anybody know what the alternate key sequence is so I can try harder to avoid it? Is there a way to tell Windows to simply stop using Overwrite mode?

  • 16
    It appears that Shift+Numpad0 puts one in insert mode. I think this is the actual cause of my problem. (Does anybody on the planet actually use insert mode?)
    – Ira Baxter
    Sep 10, 2014 at 10:57
  • 2
    I'd like to add (even though this is off-topic) that upon experimentation, I found that it isn't just Shift+"Numpad 0". Shift+Numpad seems to disable the effect of Num Lock, so we also have Shift+period (delete!), 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9 all doing their other equivalents. I wonder if this is specific to Microsoft Windows, or generally supported by other software, or perhaps a keyboard-thing (that requires no special software support, because it is handled by keyboard scan codes).
    – TOOGAM
    Oct 6, 2015 at 18:34
  • 1
    The accepted solution didn't work for me on Windows 8.1 (though a related question about how to disable Caps Lock did).
    – AlainD
    Mar 24, 2016 at 23:00
  • MS Office disabled the key by default after so few people use it. Actually I still sometimes need to draw 2D tables in ASCII, for example to post on stackexchange, but there are tools for creating the table so overwrite no need for overwrite mode.
    – phuclv
    Nov 26, 2016 at 10:44
  • 4
    "anti-functionality". I like it! Nov 15, 2018 at 0:40

8 Answers 8


How to Disable the Insert Key in Windows

Almost anyone who has used a wordprocessor has accidentally hit the Insert key and overwritten when they thought they were editing. This article describes a simple way to disable the Insert key on your keyboard.

Whenever you press a key, a windows message is created, which contains a key code that uniquely identifies the key pressed. Programmes (like Microsoft Word) look for keypress messages and take actions based on the key code in the message. By mapping the insert key press event to null, windows send a message containing null for the key code when the Insert key is pressed. Programmes receiving the message, therefore, do not perform the action associated with an insert key press event, freeing you from having to worry about overwriting things again.

  1. Go to Start → Run → regedit
  2. Go to HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout
  3. Right-click on the right half of the screen and choose New → Binary Value
  4. Name the new value Scancode Map
  5. Enter 000000000000000002000000000052E000000000
  6. Close regedit
  7. Reboot.
  8. Optional: you can take the Insert key off of your keyboard when done.

If you do this with Windows7 regedit, you have to enter the hex value in rows of 8 bytes, like this:

Value Data:
0000    00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
0008    02 00 00 00 00 00 52 E0
0010    00 00 00 00


Registry file (.reg) to apply the fix as described above

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout]
"Scancode Map"=hex:00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,02,00,00,00,00,00,52,e0,00,00,00,00

Put the above text into a file with a .reg extension (e.g.: disable-insert.reg), and double click.

  • 1
    This can be done less manually/dangerously by using SharpKeys - see dangph's answer below
    – rattray
    Apr 23, 2015 at 7:49
  • 2
    Just remember to reboot after this..
    – tkit
    Jul 12, 2017 at 10:53
  • The .reg file solution worked for me on Windows 10 Pro (with a reboot after). Sep 23, 2019 at 17:55
  • 1
    This does not disable the Num0 enabling of overwrite mode with Numlock off (I verified my Insert key is disabled by flailing to disable overwrite mode after accidentally enabled it with Num0). On Windows Server 2016 in case it matters. Oct 29, 2019 at 18:33
  • Worked for me as well, obviously you have to run regedit as a true admin account, I used the import. Thank you!
    – JGlass
    Jan 30, 2020 at 15:38

The 0 key on the numeric keypad becomes insert when num lock is off.

When you type something in an MS-DOS application and go back to the middle of the phrase and press TAB, you switch to overwrite mode.

  • 5
    You mean the 0-key on the numeric keypad is the insert key when num-lock is off. Aug 30, 2009 at 13:07
  • 2
    +1 for pressing Tab. I was wondering why overtype kept getting triggered in Powershell... It's because I press Tab all the time for autocomplete
    – binaryfunt
    Apr 21, 2017 at 22:50
  • Also make sure "Insert mode" is ticked in the Powershell settings
    – binaryfunt
    Aug 18, 2017 at 11:37
  • This is what saved me quickly without spending more time than necessary on any of the other answers. I have no Insert key and had accidentally hit the 0 on the numeric keypad. I just hit it again, and bingo-bango, the day is saved. Apr 17, 2018 at 20:50
  • Num Lock is just that - it locks the numbers on. Like Scroll Lock and Caps Lock.
    – skeetastax
    Aug 2 at 4:49

Just figured this one out... Shift+0 on the numeric keypad. I guess I must accidentally tag it while speed typing often enough. Has been throwing me for a long time.

While my addition above may be helpful to some, that wasn't my problem. Anyone stumbling here, if this happens pretty much no matter what app you may be in (i.e., not solely to do with editing in MS Word), save yourself the aggravation of searching to the end of the internet like I have...

My personal definitive conclusion is that there is no "other magic key combo" for toggling insert overwrite, period. So therefore the only remaining possibility is that in the course of rapid typing, either due to an imperfect/sloppy stroke combo OR a bounce on the keyboard aiding in such, an unexpected encoding is generated that happens to always trigger ins/ovr toggle. I gather from my personal research that it is more likely due to a keyboard/hardware flaw than a software flaw. If it was a software flaw I think we'd see more posting on the net about it.

I am going to finally try the regedit suggestion posted, and simply try to get over it now.

  • Shift+Num0 with numlock disabled, or just plain Num0 with numlock enabled toggles overwrite mode. Oct 29, 2019 at 18:37

Use SharpKeys to map Insert to Turn key off. This disables the key and is easier and safer than doing the registry hacks yourself.

Sharpkeys is old (it's designed for Windows 7) but still works on Windows 10.

enter image description here

  • I discovered SharpKeys a couple years back (look at date of question) but didn't remember I asked this question. So, +1 for answering with an excellent answer. Guilt made me accept (just now) a much older answer which I used before I found SharpKeys.
    – Ira Baxter
    Feb 26, 2014 at 4:10
  • @Ira, no problems, thanks for the upvote :) One thing that SharpKeys won't do, I've just discovered, is it won't disable Shift+NumPad0. I recall that there is a hotkey editor out there somewhere. That might do the trick. But I never hit that key combination accidentally, so it doesn't affect me.
    – dangph
    Feb 26, 2014 at 4:21
  • Over long usage (note the age of this question), I've discovered that I do hit "Shift+NumPad0" by accident occasionally. The fact that this is really rare means it takes me some time to recognize it, and, since I'm in insert mode with the insert key disabled, it isn't obvious how to get out again. Eventually shift+Numpad0 comes to mind. The rare events are the worst to handle. So, I need a stronger answer. Sigh.
    – Ira Baxter
    Sep 10, 2014 at 10:55

I'm surprised nobody suggested the simplest solution - take out the actual physical key out of the keyboard (eg. with scissors, knife).

enter image description here

  • 12
    Because that's unsightly...
    – binaryfunt
    Apr 14, 2017 at 17:14
  • 1
    You are not supposed to look at the keyboard anyway while typing ;-)
    – rluks
    Apr 15, 2017 at 18:17
  • 10
    Please, no one do this.
    – bubbleking
    May 22, 2017 at 3:23
  • 1
    That's what I've done, and been happy with it. I can still accidentally press Num-0, and that puts me into insert mode. I have to press it again to exit it. Nov 15, 2018 at 0:42
  • 2
    Try doing that to somebody else's computer an see what kind of reaction you get.
    – Ira Baxter
    Aug 14, 2019 at 15:00

One of the easiest ways to fix this problem, and also give yourself some other useful functionality, is to remap the insert key using AutoHotkey.

On my Windows machine the number pad does the insert key if the numbers pad is not locked, so I have the following in an AutoHotkey script:

Numpad0:: 0

So if I end up hitting the 0, it is writing out 0 instead of being an insert key, and I don't have to worry about having the numbers lock on or off.


For HP laptop, press Fn + ins keys.

  • num block must be off, Fn + F10 (numblock), then Fn + M (with 0 digit) Oct 18, 2022 at 14:42

Go to File - Options - Advanced - Use Insert Key to Paste - It will still be used but for a much more practical reason and you will notice when you have pasted something you don't want :-)

  • 6
    I assume this is for some particular application (probably Word)? The question was about disabling the functionality in Windows completely.
    – kad81
    Aug 24, 2018 at 0:16

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