Simulating the Insert Key on a MacBook Pro

Apple to Ubuntu

For almost the last 20 years, an Apple laptop of one variety or another has been my main computing device. Imagine my surprise when I finally learned today that Apple keyboards don’t have an Insert key. In almost two decades I have never needed it, but that changed this morning.

While working in my favorite Python editor, Wing IDE by Wingware, some sloppy touch typing resulted in the cursor changing from the blinking vertical line I am used to a blinking underline. That change was subtle enough that I missed it, but as soon as I began typing and the text I was entering started overwriting the existing code, I knew something was up. WTF!

I guess this reflects the sheltered life I’ve led as an Apple user, but I didn’t realize that many text editors and other applications still offered an overwrite mode in addition to an insert mode. Switching between them is usually accomplished by pressing the Insert key. Easy enough. Wait, what? My keyboard doesn’t have an insert key. After some brief googling, I discovered that Apple eliminated the Insert key because they though overwrite mode was too confusing for users, so while they couldn’t control the modes an application would allow, they could make it difficult for casual users to get to overwrite mode.

The fact that I was in overwrite mode told me that the Insert key could be simulated, as some key combination that my fat fingers landed on tripped it. Finding the key combination took a little while longer than I thought it would, but finally what worked for me was:

fn + return

Pressing the fn (function) key and the return key changed my cursor back to the blinky vertical line I used to take for granted, and typing text behaved the only way I am familiar with. All was right with the universe again. Well, except for the whole Trump administration thing.



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    • Shadilay on June 8, 2017 at 3:44 pm
    • Reply

    BREAKING: Donald Trump to step down as president because no-name blogger strikes a jab at the end of his 0-reply blog entry.

    1. It’s not a 0-reply blog entry anymore. Thanks, comrade!

        • Justin on August 26, 2017 at 5:23 pm
        • Reply

        Your response brought a smile to my face, regardless of politics. LOL

          • Tony on August 27, 2017 at 8:15 am
          • Reply

          And you reciprocated. Thanks!

    • Peter Shenkin on December 7, 2018 at 5:40 pm
    • Reply

    Umm… very nice… but I have one* of the old Apple mechanical keyboards, which I love, and occasionally I get this overwriting problem problem when using gmail. But this keyboard, which of course does not have an Ins key, doesn’t have a Fn key either. Any suggestions?

    * I actually have three, “just in case.”

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