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November 2018

Save Yourself from the Menu Deletor!

In many of my Word books I warn of the cursed Menu Deletor. It's criminal that such a command is put into Word let alone give it such an easy keyboard combination: Ctrl+Alt+hyphen (the - key by the zero, not the minus key on the numeric keypad).

Happily, the Menu Deletor is no longer an issue with Word 2007. (Probably because Word 2007 lacks menus!) But when you accidentally press Ctrl+Alt+hyphen in older versions of Word, the mouse pointer changes to a horizontal block:

If this happens, press the Esc key at once! Otherwise, should you choose a menu item, that item is deleted. No warning is given. No chance to undo. It's awful. But after all these years, I do have a solution:

Change the freaking key combination to something else!

Word lets you re-map any keyboard shortcut to any of its commands. So instead of having Ctrl+Alt+hyphen be the ToolsCustomizeRemoveMenuShortcut command (which is the official name of that dreadful action), you can change it to something more logical, such as an "em dash," which is a long hyphen — like that!

Here's how to make the change and save yourself from potential disaster. This works for all Word versions, 2000 on up.

Choose ToolsCustomize

The Customize dialog box appears:

Click the Keyboard button.

You want to customize the keyboard, and that action takes place in the aptly named Customize Keyboard dialog box:

A. From the Categories scrolling list, choose "Common Symbols"

B. From the Common Symbols scrolling list, choose "— Em Dash"

C. Click the mouse in the "Press new shortcut key" box.

Press the Ctrl+Alt+hyphen key combination

Remember this is the hyphen key next to the zero key on your keyboard; it is not the minus key on the numeric keypad.

D. Ensure that Normal.dot is chosen from the "Save changes in" drop-down list.

Click the Assign button.

Now the keystroke has been carefully reassigned. Whew!

Click the Close button to close the Customize Keyboard dialog box.

Click the Close button to close the Customize dialog box.

Yeah! The nasty command is gone. To prove it, press Ctrl+Alt+hyphen and you'll see a jolly em-dash inserted into your document where havoc would reign before. Now doesn't that make some sense?

NOTE: The next time you quit Word, you might be asked if you want to save the changes to NORMAL.DOT or the "global template." Be sure to answer "Yes" to that question, so that your keyboard reassignment is saved for all your Word documents.