How to Stop Text Overwriting in Gmail

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Text overwriting is a great way to quickly draft (and edit) your Gmail emails, but if you want to switch it off, here’s how.

When you type up an email (or any document, for that matter), each letter follows the other—until they don’t.

Have you ever skipped back in a sentence to correct a typo but ended up replacing the words in front of you? This can cause problems during editing, especially if you’re writing a long email in Gmail.

Want to fix it? Here’s how to stop text overwriting in Gmail.

What is Text Overwriting?

You’re writing an email. You move the blinking cursor back by a few words to fix a typo. There’s a problem—anything you type replaces the text in front of it.

That’s text overwriting in a nutshell. In word processors, notepad tools, and email clients, text overwriting is a way to quickly overwrite the text in front of it. If you’re quickly editing or redrafting, it can make your job a lot easier.

For most users, however, text overwriting is problematic. It makes it hard to go back and edit anything without the text in place being overwritten. The feature itself is the problem, and if you don’t want it, you’ll need to switch it off.

How to Stop Overwrite in Gmail

If you want to stop overwriting in Gmail, stop what you’re doing and look at your keyboard. Look for the Insert (or Ins) key—this key is the culprit.

The insert key on a keyboard

The Insert key allows you to quickly switch overwriting on or off. If you’re overwriting text in Gmail, exit your draft—it should save automatically. Next, press the Insert key once and return to Gmail. For most users, this fixes the problem.

You shouldn’t need to, but if you’re still having problems, refresh the page or create a new draft entirely.

Other Fixes for Overwriting in Gmail

The Insert key is the quick fix to stop overwriting text in Gmail. If it doesn’t work, here are some suggestions you can try next.

  • Press Insert again. It sounds obvious, but if the change hasn’t been recorded properly, press the Insert key again.
  • Select your draft text. Some browsers (like Chrome) can find input changes like this difficult. You can try selecting any draft text with overwriting issues first before you press Insert, as this may resolve the problem.
  • Open an incognito window. An incognito (or private) browsing window is isolated from your main browser tabs. Try opening Gmail in an incognito tab and drafting your text here—this will help you determine if the problem is keyboard related or browser related.
  • Restart your browser. If your input isn’t being recorded properly, start afresh by closing your browser window and re-opening it. Your browser should recognize that the Insert key isn’t active when you return to Gmail.
  • Restart your PC or Mac. Input changes are extremely basic for your PC or Mac to identify. If you’re still having trouble, however, restart and check if it continues.
  • Switch to a different keyboard. You can’t rule out a hardware problem. If the Insert key stops responding, check if your keyboard is working properly and switch it out if it isn’t.
  • Use the on-screen keyboard. Don’t have a spare keyboard? If you’re running Windows 10, you can always activate the on-screen keyboard to do this. Windows 11 also have an on-screen keyboard, but the Insert key isn’t available on all keyboard layouts.

For almost all other users, one of these steps will resolve the issue. If you can’t fix it at this point, there’s something more serious going on—you may need to switch PCs or try the Gmail app to bypass the problem.

Understanding Gmail Better

The steps above will help you to stop text overwrite in Gmail from messing up your drafts.

If you’re new to Gmail, you’ll want to learn more about some of its features. Why not begin by sorting your emails using filters? This can help you categorize your emails to clean up your inbox.

Want more out of your inbox? You could always give a third-party Gmail client a try to see if it offers you more functionality.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Terri

    August 6, 2023 at 8:31 am

    Very helpful. Thank you

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