Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Disabling OpenOffice's Stupid Autocomplete

[ An updated version of this information appears here. ]

With autocomplete, OpenOffice has managed to make a completely useless, very annoying behavior default. They've also done a good job of hiding the menu options to disable the "feature," and have hidden it in different places in different tools. This is a case where consistency would reduce the impact of a stupid default. Anyhow, as others have mentioned, whenever I'm using a freshly-installed OpenOffice (e.g., after installing a hopefully less-buggy version of Ubuntu), OpenOffice reminds me how much I dislike this "feature." And I spend too much time hunting down how to kill it.

First, in OO Writer it's not really that well hidden. Copied from http://nowacki.org/blog/2004/05/disable_autocomplete_in_openoffice.html: * Tools -> AutoCorrect/AutoFormat… * Word Completion tab * Uncheck “Enable word completion” 

Unfortunately, this doesn't disable the "feature" in OO Calc, and the OO Calc option is very well hidden. Today I really was having trouble figuring it out--it is, of course, not in what passes for help in OO--which led me to nowacki.org via Google. From their blog entry: Tools -> Cell Contents -> AutoInput

Of course, this is the root of the problem: we're supposed to magically know that in OO Calc they call it autoinput rather than autocomplete. What, if anything, are the OO folks thinking? This has been a usability problem and unnecessary time sink for a lot of people for a long time now. When will they disable it by default, or at least make it possible to find the option in OO Calc? Or maybe talk about disabling it in OO Help?

22 comments:

cLive ;-) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cLive ;-) said...

oops - truncated. I thought I'd typed:

"Thanks - I was going nuts"

Jeff Martens said...

I have no reason to believe you're the one who's nuts.

mark said...

OOffice Community is learning from Microsoft: they are filling OO of stupid & time wasting functionalities which require hours (days) to know how to disable them. There is a ever lasting law in software engineering that says: "when your software has become perfect, after years and years of development, it starts becoming worse". This is because software engineers do not know what to add, after all is well working, so they go for not useful, time wasting, annoying automatic functions, thinking the computer has a brain or their product can become intelligent. Whenever software has automatic functions to help us thinking it turns into a machine which makes our life worse compared to when such software was not used by us. OpenOffice, born and raised to be a free software to make us free from imposed commands and unwanted and fake benefits, is day by day becoming that "big brother" that had to be by Open Office once destroyed.

Jeff Martens said...

I agree that software tends to get worse over time, though I'm not sure I agree with your reasons. I think it's more a desire to be all things to all people, with a dose of whoever's in charge not understanding the problem that's being, hopefully, solved. Thus, OO starts as a good idea and becomes bloatware. Linux starts as a good idea, but then, developed by people who don't understand Unix, morphs into something more and more like Windows.

Murray said...

Thank you! This is indeed a completely useless, time wasting feature, and I couldn't find any information in the help file on how to disable it. You have saved me a lot of time.

Caroline said...

I know this entry is way old but THANK YOU THAT IS INCREDIBLE!!!!

I've only been using it for a day and it's been driving me insane (of course, I'm writing a ton of finals on it, so that doesn't help my patience)

Why would such a thing even exist???

Phil Mitchell said...

Thank you and again thank you! Unbelievable that it is called "autoinput" in calc!

Ming said...

thanks: I have been looking for a way to control the autocomplete for ages ... should have googled earlier!

justanadamike said...

Fantastic. Keep this one up on the google results

DSB said...

Hey, next thing you know, they'll add Clippy, to be just like Microsoft... at its worst ;-}

KuRoKun said...

Agreed man, soooo annoying. Thanks for the info.

KuRoKun said...

I agree soooooooooo annoying, Thanks!

Andreas L said...

Thank you . this solved it for me. I am having the same problem every time I install a new version of OO, in both Writer and Calc. Please, please turn this useless shit off by default and make the settings available through Tools->Option.

Now I only need to find out how to stop Calc from "correcting" my decimal numbers into dates on entry :-(

AlanF said...

Thanks! Couldn't find that under OO Help. I would have thought this would be controlled by AutoCorrect, but no.

AlanF said...

Thanks! I would have thought that this was controlled by AutoCorrect, but no.

Patrick said...

I totally agree with Jeff. And worse, in OO there is so many things to improve, like moving cells, or when you're writing a formula and want to use a cell just beside it, and the formula gets on the way. There's a list of annoying unproductive things on OO, but they still focus on getting fancy. Soon they'll have that giant bar that Microsoft office has nowadays - the most stupid thing ever made, today screens are mostly wide, when you least expect you have a 2in bar left to work on.

Peter B. said...

It really comes as a complete surprise to me that there can be so much animosity towards such a useful feature as AutoInput.
Frequently I need to enter lists of repetitive information using OO Calc, and I have found the AutoInput feature to be one of the most useful developments I have seen in over 30 years using spreadsheets.
Even when offered the wrong choice in the list, I can easily change it with [Tab], keep typing something else entirely, or hit [Delete] to kill the suggestion altogether. None of these actions is particularly offensive given the enormous amount of typing I have been saved from using AutoInput. Clearly then I must somehow be in the minority in the way I use these great tools.
Thanks for the interesting discussion anyway - at least I now know AutoInput can be turned off if I ever choose to do that.
Cheers.

Jeff Martens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Martens said...

It probably depends on how one uses spreadsheets. I find other tools like
emacs friendlier for entering repetitive data, and it's easy to paste it in from there. I just associate autoinput with software wasting my time with wrong guesses.

Kalo Alexandra said...

First off, many thanks to Jeff. This blog entry is still pulling strangers back from the brink.
Secondly, in response to Peter B's response, I imagine this is a really useful feature for straight up repetitious data entry. My problem with the auto-input solution is identical to your preference; the difference lies in our tasks. You, I presume, are primarily looking at the spreadsheet with 'buffering' glances at your source material: on the other hand, I'm mostly looking at and manipulating a different screen while inputting largely similar spreadsheet data fields to the lesser seen screen. If you are not keeping track of auto-inputs guesses, but rather relying upon your innate typing capacity, this feature will cost you hair.
Lastly, no matter how useful you find the feature and no matter how useless I find the feature, the designers surely could have cross-linked a commonly held concept like "autocomplete" with their new-fangled, spreadsheet specific "auto-input" feature in their otherwise monumentally cryptic help files.
The feature may indeed rock: the implementation positively sucks. By the time I found this blog, I'd turned off half a dozen features I really liked.

Jeff, no kidding, huge weight off my workload. Thanks again.

Jeff Martens said...

Kalo, thanks. Now I can go back to bed thinking that in balance I've done good today. More seriously, it's nice to occasionally post something that a number of people find useful.