let pen usage toggle between inking and pointer
The January 2016 Office update defaults the Surface Pen to an inking tool. Most Excel users prefer to use the pen as a pointer. Please give us a toggle in the ribbon to switch between inking and pointing.
(2016-03-15 – Completed) (Edit: Added link to Office Insider signup)
I wanted to let everyone know that in the update to Office that started rolling out to Insiders today, you will find a new preference in the Options dialog to allow you to make the pen select instead of ink by default. Enabling this preference will make the pen function exactly like it did before, plus you can use the options on the Draw tab if you do decide you want to ink. If you are an Office Insider (which anyone can join – https://products.office.com/en-us/office-insider), you should get this update within the next day or so. If you are not an Office Insider, it may take another week or two to reach you.
This is a per-app preference, so you can enable selection by default in Excel for instance while leaving ink as the default in Word and PowerPoint, or you can switch all three. To access this preference select File > Options, and then in the Options dialog select Advanced and check ‘Use pen to select and interact with content by default’ in the new Pen section.
We’ll be releasing the second piece, which is the ability to toggle on pen selection via the Draw tab for those that only want to use the pen to select occasionally, with the next monthly update.
Thanks again to all of you for your feedback, and we hope this change addresses your concerns.
(2016-02-29 – Started)
I wanted to first thank all of you for your feedback. We’ve heard you loud and clear, and as a result we are actively working on two changes:
1 – For people that want to use the pen as a precise pointer temporarily, we will introduce the ability to do that via a button on the Draw tab. This will keep the new default of having the pen ink on the document canvas, but give the ability to use the pen to do selection when needed.
2 – For people that want or need to use the pen like a mouse by default, we will also add a new preference to the Options dialog that will allow you to restore the previous behavior. If you want to ink, that will be easier than before because you’ll be able to just tap a pen on the Draw tab and start inking, but you will be able to set your default behavior to be that the pen selects, just like it was before the update.
We are actively working on making these changes so that we can get them out to you as soon as possible. Note that you may see #2 (the preference in the Options dialog) appear first, because we are prioritizing getting that change to you based on your feedback.
(2016-02-25 – Under Review)
Thanks all for the feedback, we’re looking at this area now.
You’re correct that this is a change with the latest update to Office 2016, if you have an O365 subscription. Throughout Office (and across platforms – Windows, iOS, Android, etc.), we are moving towards having the pen do what it does on paper: draw ink. Using this you can annotate your documents, convert ink into shapes and flowcharts, and more.
You should still be able to use your finger to select, resize, change text color, etc. however. This change should only affect your use of the pen.
Now all that said, we’re always open to your feedback on any change we make, so we are now looking into providing a way to allow you to go back to the legacy behavior.
Elouise Magnuson commented
This is terrible. Spent a whole day trying to figure out what setting I changed by accident! Please fix this s soon as possible.
Ray Butler commented
Did somebody at Microsoft one day decide to see how a deranged monkey uses a Surface with a pen and decide to make scrawling on a spreadsheet the default behavior? I was not only horrified to find that Excel was now an Etch-A-Sketch, but doubly horrified when I discovered there was no way to prevent this ridiculous application behavior! This change has utterly destroyed any chance for productivity when working with spreadsheets. Seriously, did anybody there think of consulting any actual productive users before making this the default and only possible behavior? The pen is simply the most effective pointing and selecting tool for Excel on the Surface and this functionality needs to be restored ASAP.
for anyone who is not sure how to remove all those unwanted ink marks...
Caution *** this will remove all objects, not just ink!
Ron Green commented
A physical handicap limits my use to a pen tablet. A mouse after a few minutes becomes very painful. I need to have the use of a pen back for selecting in Excel, not drawing! Please get this fixed right away. Dan talked a lot about plans to make changes but I see no commitment or responses from him to requests for a commitment.
When can we expect a fix. My Surface is now useless $1000 brick when I am commuting. A pen is the only effective "mouse" when on a train that is bouncing all over. Do you even get real people to test? I used to run a development team and real user testing saved us from pushing bad ideas on the people that were paying our salaries.
Andrew Holden commented
Back to factory settings. Windows 8. Re-install Office, Disable Automatic Updates to Notify ONLY [Let me select] and I now have a working Table PC & not just an expensive paperweight [Thanks JM].
It's a bit drastic I know & luckily I didn't have much other data I wasn't bothered about losing as I mostly use it for data collection, but at least it works now. Got a problem with Outlook & gmail accounts at the moment, but I can live with that inconvenience.
Microsoft, you owe me 2 days of my life back. Don't do it again, but I know you will!
We were using our tablets in the field to record data in excel. With the new configuration, this is no longer viable for us (way to cumbersome). We are back to using pen and paper and having an admin enter the data on a desk top. Tablets are now expensive paper weights just siting in our office.
I do not use my pen to draw, I need to be able to use it as a pointer. Please restore pointer functionality ASAP if not IMMEDIATELY!!!
You took a very useful tool and turned it into trash for me.
Yes please give us the option to select with the pen ASAP. I use my surface pro mostly for work and my stubby fingers are hard to use to select, I really like the accuracy of using the pen and I'm lost without it right now!!
I have no idea who thought that adding a feature with no way of turning it off was a good idea.
I use a Wacom Bamboo tablet with my because I have a wrist problem and now have no way of editing cells in my Excel worksheets and my client is waiting.
This "upgrade" was worse than useless. Clearly I am not the only person who feels this way. I NEED to use the pen as a mouse most of the time because my finger just doesn't have the precision that is necessary. My finger also does not come with a right-click button (manufacturing defect). How is it possible that a fix for this issue isn't more of a priority???
Alla Linetsky commented
I don't understand why Option 1 of the proposed 'solution' is even considered. Haven't we all made it clear that it is the inking feature that we want to be temporary?
Prior to this regressive change, were users complaining that they had to select a menu option to start inking?
Now, I would like to see an inking option with Adobe Reader and MS Photo viewer app - but that's a request for a different forum.
I agree. The pen gives way more precise movements than my finger which I understand that I can still use. The pens precision makes my work at least three times faster and way less stressful. I really like my surface pro 3 and I do not want to have to throw it across the room in a Microsoft office update rampage. don't get me wrong I like office in many respects, but sometimes upgrades like this are frustrating and the worst part is how long it takes for someone to realize and actually listen to us the consumers or at least acknowledge that they heard us.
Andrew Holden commented
I echo what the majority of people here are saying.
I use my tablet [Samsung ATIV 500] as a data collection tool when working on site, doing inspections, and this update has forced me to go back to pen & paper, drastically reducing my produtivity. I hope this is resloved quickly. This is not an improvement, it is a retrograde step. Why reduce peoples' options & stymy their productivity. Not good! :-(
The Pen worked as a precise selection tool, unlike my fingers that are quite large & imprecise.
If the funtionality was restored to the previous settings, with an option for the latest features that you want us to have, that's fine by me, but give us the option.
Carey Mossop commented
I need the functionality that I bought back now!! This is why I bought a Surface Pro and subscribed to Office 365. So I can use a tablet as a touch screen tablet and use the pen for precision movements when selecting cells. This capability has been taken away without compensation.
I didn't buy a touch sensitive tablet with a pen to draw and write. I bought it with a pen so I could make precise movements that are not possible with my finger that is 1 cm in diameter.
If I wanted to draw, I had the option to do so! Office 2016 is useless to me now and a waste of my money!
I spent 4 hours with Microsoft on the phone the other day trying to fix this problem and they had no idea they could not; until the very end. In the process they told me the only way they could figure it out is if I signed up the Assure program at $150. I am very disappointed in Microsoft and how they forced this on us. I use my pen extensively for work, every day, and not just to draw. In fact, I never use it to draw. Try dropping down a menu in excel with your finger! Please make this right soon!
Removing the pen selection feature without notice was not a good move. I am much slower without the pen and currently many common excel features are now very difficult without using the trackpad which defeats the purpose of using a Surface. I am a user, I paid for this software. I want Microsoft to make the software behave the way I and so many other users prefer it to work. In this day and age who just removes functionality without telling anybody? That was rude.
Just adding my voice to the numerous requests for a button to toggle this feature on and off. I like the feature, but it must be a toggle, not a permanent solution.
Dan. MS when will this fix be ready? This is a big inconvenience.