Bug 70418 - When selecting text, automatically select entire word
Summary: When selecting text, automatically select entire word
Status: NEW
Alias: None
Product: LibreOffice
Classification: Unclassified
Component: UI (show other bugs)
(earliest affected)
Inherited From OOo
Hardware: All All
: medium enhancement
Assignee: Not Assigned
Depends on:
Blocks: Writer-UX Writer-Enhancements Selection
  Show dependency treegraph
Reported: 2013-10-13 05:54 UTC by Luke
Modified: 2021-12-09 07:16 UTC (History)
5 users (show)

See Also:
Crash report or crash signature:
Regression By:


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Description Luke 2013-10-13 05:54:17 UTC
Please consider adding the optional feature to intelligently select text word by word. When highlighting one word, only select the characters. When you select more than one word, select entire words at a time. When selecting left to right, and the mouse is moved backwards, revert to selecting one character at a time. If the cursor is moved right again over multiple words, continue with the select by word behavior.

This feature would only apply to Writer and Impress. The option to disable it could be placed under 
Tools -> Options -> Writer AND Impress -> General -> Editing

The option could be called "When selecting text, automatically select entire word"

The feature would be especially useful for those of us on laptop with imprecise input devices like touchpads or pointing sticks. You can see an example of how this could be implemented by using MS Word or Powerpoint.
Comment 1 Jorendc 2013-10-13 22:15:01 UTC
Looks a nice feature to have :).
Therefore I mark it as such (enhancement request) and NEW.

Kind regards,
Comment 2 Luke 2014-10-10 17:52:35 UTC
Added Samuel as he's been active in this area.
Comment 3 Samuel Mehrbrodt (allotropia) 2014-10-11 10:00:00 UTC
Doesn't this already work?
When I select a whole word by double-clicking on it, then move the mouse, the whole next word is selected.
Comment 4 Samuel Mehrbrodt (allotropia) 2014-10-11 10:00:51 UTC
The same works with paragraphs btw.
Comment 5 Luke 2014-10-11 21:53:53 UTC
Right now, the select-by-word mode has to be enabled by double-clicking on a word and then dragging. The user has to remember to start with a double click. Instead, I am suggesting to have a more intelligent select that starts with a single-click and drag. Once you have highlighted more than one word, it will automatically switch into select-by-word mode. To disable this mode, you move the move backwards to return to the select-by-character mode. 

This is how most modern word processors behave. Do you have access to Word Perfect or MS Word? If not, I can record a video on youtube.
Comment 6 Samuel Mehrbrodt (allotropia) 2014-10-12 19:04:40 UTC
Ok, I have now checked Word and seen how this works.
Comment 7 Luke 2016-05-11 15:33:57 UTC
Still not available in Version:
Build ID: 4266caadbbe67fa23de0df3b84f4d923cfd57201
Comment 8 Thomas Lendo 2019-08-20 15:52:18 UTC
Adding needsUXEval keyword.

Such autoselection of an entire word would be really useful. Sometimes I miss this when editing words or terms multiple times. But I also like the current behavior of LibreOffice because sometimes you don't want to select a full word. For me, it would be sufficient to have an accelerator key (maybe shift or ctrl) to shift to the other selection mode temporarily.

So we have to discuss 3 issues:
1. What should be the default behavior: Selection by character or word?
2. Where should this setting be changable?
3. How can it be made possible to switch temporarily to the other mode?
Comment 9 Thomas Lendo 2019-08-20 15:58:00 UTC
Additional note: It's already possible to select word by word with keyboard by pressing SHIFT + CTRL + ARROW KEY.

So, this enhancement request would harmonize (1) a mouse + keyboard selection and (2) a keyboard only selection.
Comment 10 Thomas Lendo 2019-08-20 16:10:41 UTC
And the fourth issue:
4. Behavior of selecting a single or some character(s) or word(s) and what if user changes selection back. This is mentioned by the bug opener in comment 0.

MSO Word behaves also differently:

Starting text selection by mouse within an arbitrary position in a word only selects the selected characters. If the user selects also the first character of the following word then the selection of the first word expands to the entire first word and all following words will be selected in its entire length. (Switch from character to word selection.)

If the user is going back to the first word with its selection then the selection mode switches back from entire word to characters. (Switch from word to character selection.)
Comment 11 Heiko Tietze 2021-05-31 12:58:18 UTC
I don't see need to change much. You select word-wise per shift+ctrl+cursor - on all applications. Actually it sounds dangerous to me if this behavior varies and I wonder if unselecting parts of the automatically added words is possible. My take is WF. Any other opinion?
Comment 12 QA Administrators 2021-11-28 04:08:07 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 13 Luke 2021-12-01 01:11:52 UTC
Why would it be "dangerous"? This is exactly how Word and PowerPoint behave my default. In my description, I said, "this feature would be especially useful for those of us on laptop with imprecise input devices like touchpads or pointing sticks." Actually compare Writer with Word and you will see why this would be such a useful feature. 

I do not miss this feature when using a mouse. That's why I said it should be an optional feature, just like it is in MSO.
Comment 14 Mike Kaganski 2021-12-08 20:18:13 UTC
IMO comment 3 describes perfectly working solution. I would hate to have that "smart" processing, where in order to select from precisely half of this word till half of another would need me to make magic passes to stop the "smart" selection. Double-click does *not* take time when selecting; cancelling smart selection in other software takes me time.

WF imo.
Comment 15 Heiko Tietze 2021-12-09 07:16:18 UTC
This topic was on the agenda of the design meeting.

To answer Thomas' questions:

   + What should be the default behavior?
     + start with character, revert per character
   + Where should this setting be changeable?
     + no option here (at least not in the UI) (Heiko)
     + option at Tools > Options > Writer & Impress -> General -> Editing (Luke)
   + How can it be made possible to switch temporarily to the other mode?
     + all or nothing

The point here is probably not primarily the keyboard (works well with shift+ctrl) but selection per cursor (mouse, touchpad etc.). It's known on Windows but would be rather disturbing on Linux.