In Word, can I turn off Alt key access menus?

In Word, is it possible to disable the Alt key accessing the menus?  I have a lot of alt-macros, and often, when I press Alt (the first key of the macro), the menu opens up before I can type the second key to invoke the macro.  Then I have to stop what I'm doing, press Escape multiple times, and begin again.

Can this be disabled?
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Try the suggestions in this article to reassign keys you wish to use yourself. That should allow you to co-exist.
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the idea, but it's not there.  I went through the entire set of commands looking for it.  :(
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You cannot simple turn off Alt.  You have to re-assign specific keys that conflict. You CAN do that.
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Paul SauvéRetiredCommented:
John is correct - here is a PARTIAL list of shortcut keys:
157 Shortcuts for Microsoft Word 2016 (Windows)

simply select the ALT- keystrokes you wish to use and see what they correspond to.

for example:
4. Access Shortcut
Alt+H      Home tab
Alt+N      Insert Tab
Alt+G      Design tab
Alt+F      File Page
Alt+M      Mailing tab
Alt+P      Layout tab
Alt+Q      Goto tell me box
Alt+R      Review tab
Alt+W      View tab
Alt+S      References tab

before you can use them, you have to reassign the key combo and remove the alt-combo from that command
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
I appreciate you guys trying to help.  

Let's say I want to run a macro that is invoked by Alt-C.  I press Alt and hesitate an instant too long.  Word does this.  

What happens when I first press Alt

In my example, I wanted to press Alt-C.  C is not in this menu.  So you would think I could still press C.  But I can't.  It returns an error beep.  I have to press Escape and start over.

So if I go to customize keyboard, in this second picture, I can see all the things UNDER the file tab, but I can't see where I can remove Alt-F from opening the File menu.  Or the Alt key from getting me here in the first place.

The Customize Keyboard window where I don't see a way to prevent the menu from opening
Can you direct me?
David Johnson, CDRetiredCommented:
As suggested previously don't use ALT-Keycombo use something like ctrl-ALT or ctrl-shift instead, otherwise you are fighting with the OS/Software
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
Thank you.  It sounds like the answer to my original question is no.  :(   I can't just reassign all my alt-macros to ctrl-shift because I already have ctrl-shift macros.  But I'll think about it.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I can't just reassign all my alt-macros to ctrl-shift because I already have ctrl-shift macros

Can you change again to some other key combination or reduce the number of macro keys you use?
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
What else can you assign to macros besides Alt and Ctrl-Shift?

I'm going to give this some thought today, and I'll post back if I come up with anything brilliant.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Try Ctrl-Shift for your macros.  

That is about all there is.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I assume you want this for other users.  My laptop has FN keys I could assign.  But all computers have Alt and Ctrl (and Shift combinations)
Paul SauvéRetiredCommented:
Ctrl+J      Justify Selected Phrase:ctrlj
select the shortcut in Current keys: and remove it

Ctrl+J is now available to you
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
Hi Cindy,
Here's a completely outside-the-box idea for you to prevent the need for the Alt key for your Word macros: use a keyboard macro program to assign other hotkeys for your Word macros that, in turn, send the right Alt+key to Word for your macros. I don't know how many macros you have (all you said is "a lot"), but here's an easy way to get 36 of them without the Alt key activation risk...use the Ctrl key, the Ctrl+Alt keys, and the Ctrl+Shift keys, along with the 12 function keys. For example:

Ctrl+F1 --> send Alt+A to Word (F2 to F12 sends Alt+B to Alt+L)
Ctrl+Alt+F1 --> send Alt+M to Word (F2 to F12 sends Alt+N to Alt+X)
Ctrl+Shift+F1 --> send Alt+Y to Word (F2 to F12 sends Alt+Z and Alt+0 to Alt+9)

You could even put up a nice GUI so you don't have to remember what hotkeys are assigned to what macros...all you need to remember is one hotkey...the one that brings up the GUI. For example, here's a mock-up that I wrote in the AutoHotkey macro/scripting language:

Word macros
That GUI appears when pressing Ctrl+F1 (of course, that can be any hotkey that you prefer). Then double-clicking an item in the list sends the correct Alt+key to Word for your macro. For example, "Count words" might send Alt+C.

Just another approach for you. Regards, Joe
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
Thanks, Joe.  Worth thinking about.
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
You're welcome, Cindy. Btw, how many macros do you have that are triggered by an Alt+key?
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
It's more complicated than that.  I am using a multi-layer keyboard (Ergodox-EZ) and a text expander, so everything is a bit tricky.  

I have 29 alt-key macros.  And they aren't occasional use macros.  I use many of them every few seconds.  I do transcription and editing for a living, so I have to blitz through text quickly.

I'm about to post another word question (if I can't figure it out myself).  (I'm not a programmer, so as soon as I need Visual Basic, I'm frustrated.
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
> Ergodox-EZ

I've never had an Ergodox keyboard, but based on a quick look at the website, I would think that you could use its Meh key (Alt+Ctrl+Shift) and Hyper key (Alt+Ctrl+Shift+Cmd) to avoid having to use the Alt key in Word, although I don't know how configurable those keys are (overall, the Ergodox appears to have excellent customization capability with its Graphical Configurator).

> text expander

I use AutoHotkey hotstrings for that.

> I have 29 alt-key macros

Using my idea in a previous post, you could have 29 hotkeys that are NOT Alt-based...they can be Ctrl-based, Ctrl+Alt-based, and Ctrl+Shift-based.

Here's another idea: With the Ergodox, you could use Meh+A through Meh+Z for 26 of your macros, and Hyper+A through Hyper+C for the other three, with plenty of room for growth (23 more for Hyper+D through Hyper+Z). Or, you could use Meh+0 through Meh+9 for 10 more and not even have to use the Hyper key. The AutoHotkey script could have something like this, for example:

; Meh keys
!^+a:: ; Meh+a sends Alt+a to Word
Send !a

Send !b ; Meh+b sends Alt+b to Word

; Hyper keys
!^+#y:: ; Hyper+y sends Alt+y to Word
Send !y

Send !z ; Hyper+z sends Alt+z to Word

Open in new window

This would be trivial to do, assuming that I'm understanding correctly how the Meh and Hyper keys work.

> I use many of them every few seconds.

Then the GUI idea won't fly...for that usage, it must be keyboard-based.

> I do transcription and editing for a living

Just you use a foot pedal?

Regards, Joe
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
Oh, yes, foot pedal for sure.  Also hot keys.  A lot of my special use keys are already used up.  But you can see why it's so frustrating for me to constantly have to be closing the alt menu.  :(

I haven't used the meh and hyper keys.  I'm not sure if you can assign Word macros to those keys.  But maybe that's what I should be working on.  And thank you for that sample code.  I need to think through that.
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
What are the 29 Alt keys that you use now?
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
Oh goodness.  Most are very simple and are largely intended to keep my fingers on the keyboard rather than the mouse.  Most I record by recording keystrokes (rather than programming).

Delete the next word
delete the previous word
jump to the end of the next word
format a book title
capitalize a word
put commas between a list of words
replace a space with a hyphen
begin a quote (inserts the comma, the quotation mark, and capitalizes the letter)
end a sentence (inserts the punctuation mark, the spaces, and capitalizes the next letter)
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
Oh, sorry I wasn't clearer...I wasn't asking for what they do...just what the Alt keys other words:


And so on, for 29 of them. I don't need to know what they do.
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:

Alt Q
Alt BT
Alt Return
Alt W
Alt ,
Alt M
Alt '
Alt !
Alt 1
Alt P
Alt /
Alt ;
Alt Z
Alt down arrow key
Alt up arrow key
Alt right arrow
Alt L
Alt O
Alt left arrow key
Alt J
Alt R
Alt H
Alt S
Alt F
Alt T
Alt C
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
Taking a dinner break now. Back in an hour or so. In the meantime, please read my article about AutoHotkey:

AutoHotkey - Getting Started

Let me know if you're willing to install it. A download and standard/default installation should take, literally, a minute or two...and you don't have to be a programmer to install it...simply run the downloaded installer (currently, AutoHotkey_1.1.30.03_setup.exe). Regards, Joe
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
I'll read...I already have a text expander, so I'm not sure if I can...
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
Thanks for that list...perfect!

We're not going to use it as a text expander...we're going to use it to send the Alt+key hotkeys to Word. It won't interfere in any way with your text expander.

Question: Which key would you prefer to use on the Ergodox keyboard...Meh or Hyper?

I'm thinking that instead of hitting Alt+Q, you'll hit Meh+Q or Hyper+Q. Then, AutoHotkey will send Alt+Q to Word. I know that it will take you a while to get comfortable with using Meh or Hyper instead of Alt, but I'm sure that it will become second nature after a while.
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
OK, I installed it.  And, weirdly, I already had it on my system.  So I updated it.
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
I have no preference between meh and hyper.  I have no understanding of what difference it would make.
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
OK, if I'm understanding them right, Hyper is the same as pressing Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Cmd, while Meh is the same as pressing Ctrl+Shift+Alt. As the Ergodox website says, "No sane application on your machine uses these, which means you get free system-wide shortcuts." Very cute...and likely true!

I want you to run a test. Make a plain text file with these three lines in it (use Notepad or whatever text editor you prefer):

Send Hello World

Open in new window

Name the file TestHyper.ahk — IMPORTANT: make sure the file extension is .AHK (not .TXT). After saving the file, double-click it in Windows/File Explorer (or whatever file manager you use). That will run it, because after a standard install of AutoHotkey, it will own the .AHK file type. You'll see an icon in the system tray that looks like this:

ahk system tray icon
Now open a new/empty text file and press Hyper+h (similar to the way you press Alt+h — i.e., lean on the Hyper key and tap h). Did it type Hello World in the text file? That will tell me if the Hyper key works the way I think it does.

Btw, there are only 26 items in your hotkey list, not 29.
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
OK, yes it did!  It took me a couple of tries, but it worked!  I can't wait to see how this is going to revolutionize my macro life!  :)
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
> OK, yes it did!

Great news! I'll be back in a short while with the next step. Btw, right-click on the H icon in the system tray and then left-click Exit — that will exit the test script.
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
I've already learned a lot -- not just from this thread, but from the things this thread encouraged me to explore.  I made major changes in my keyboard today.  :)
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
OK, ready for the coup de grâce? :)

Download the file attached to this post (I called it CindyWordMacroHotkeys.ahk). It contains an AutoHotkey hotkey for all 26 of the Alt+keys in your earlier post (I'll add the other 3 keys if you tell me what they are). The first line for each hotkey looks something like this:


That defines a hotkey in the AutoHotkey language. Those first four characters are called "modifiers" and mean this:

!     is Alt
^     is Ctrl
+     is Shift
#     is Win (aka Cmd — the Windows logo key)

Open in new window

The fifth character ("w" in the example above) is, of course, the key to press along with the modifiers. Obviously, a human being would be hard-pressed (pun intended) to press all those keys at once — hence, the brilliance of the Ergodox Hyper key!

The second line for each hotkey looks like this:

Send !w

That means to press Alt+w as if it had been typed. Sometimes, it's a little tricky. For example, with the Enter (aka Return) key, it is:

Send !{Enter}

With the exclamation mark, it is:

Send !{!}

You don't have to worry about any of that...I did all the work for you...but I figured you may want to understand it. :)

After downloading the CindyWordMacroHotkeys.ahk file, double-click to run it. You'll see an icon that I chose for it in the system tray (it is a piece of paper with a pencil). It will stay running forever until you right-click the icon and then Exit. If you'd like it to run automatically whenever Windows starts (so that the hotkeys are always available for you), either create a task in the Task Scheduler with an "At startup" Trigger or put a shortcut to the script in the Startup program group. If you don't know how to do either of those, let me know and I'll walk you through it (or I might even put code in the script to do it).

Test all 26 hotkeys with the Hyper key on your Ergodox keyboard. In other words, go into Word and tap Hyper+w — that should run your Alt+w macro in Word. Likewise, tap Hyper+c — that should run your Alt+c macro in Word — wash, rinse, repeat for all 26 macros.

I may not have coded all of the hotkeys right — some debugging may be required for the "tricky" ones (the letters should all be fine). If any hotkey doesn't work, let me know and I'll help you get it sorted. Btw, notice that I went with Hyper+b (not Hyper+bt) for your Alt+bt key — that will be easier for you to type (you don't need the t). Of course, Hyper+b will send Alt+bt to Word.

I think that's it! Regards, Joe

Edit: I assumed that the Cmd key in the Hyper key is the Windows logo key (if not, I don't see how the Hello World test could have worked). I suppose it's possible that the Ergodox folks meant something else by Cmd, in which case we could switch to the Meh key, which is only Alt+Ctrl+Shift (without Cmd). A revised script for that is attached with Meh in the file name.

P.S. I don't know what time zone you're in, but it's almost 2:00AM in my neck of the woods and I'm going to pack it in for the night. I'll check back into the thread first thing in my morning to see how you're doing.

Major Update 15-Jun-2019:

Hi Cindy,
I added the ability to start the scripts with Windows via a right-click on the system tray icon. There's a new "Start with Windows" item that is a toggle, and when it is ON, there's a check-mark next to it (default is OFF, so turn it on if that's what you want...I suspect you do). I also added an "About" menu pick (which shows the date/time stamp of the source code file) and an "Exit" menu pick (I removed all other context menu items). Looks like this now:

HyperHotkets context menu
I renamed the scripts to HyperHotkeys and MehHotkeys. You may run both at the same time! I gave them new icons in the system tray (and the Startup program group) — HyperHotkeys is a flat keyboard and MehHotkeys is an angled keyboard (both icons are built into Windows, so you don't have to worry about installing the icon files). They look like this:

hyper and meh icons in system tray
It's difficult for me to test as fully as I normally do with my programs because I don't have an Ergodox keyboard, but I've tested as much as possible here and everything is working perfectly. Of course, please let me know if you have any problems and I'll be happy to help.

I've replaced both of the previous attachments with the new versions. Regards, Joe

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Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
I haven't done this yet, but I wanted to thank you.  You are so kind to have done this for me.  And, of course, it will be awesome if it works.  But even if it doesn't, it was so kind of you to do this.  Thank you!
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
You're very welcome, Cindy. I'm looking forward to your test results. Regards, Joe
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
It worked!!  I can now run macros without hitting the alt key and without accidentally opening up the Word menu!  

And, as far as adding more macros, I can understand your code well enough to add future macros to it.  I can duplicate your syntax.  

I have to get used to the using the hyper key, but I understand what to do.

Thank you again for doing this for me, Joe.  This has been a minor frustration to me for a long time.

I've learned a lot from talking through this with you and Paul and John.
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
Hi Cindy,

Thanks for letting me know that it worked for you...that's great news!

Yes, just duplicate the three lines of code for a hotkey with a letter (like b) and you can make a new hotkey with any unused letter or number. As I mentioned earlier, some of the keys are tricky, like the Enter key and the exclamation mark (and a few others), but the letters and numbers are straightforward, and there are still plenty of those available from which to choose.

If you have any trouble going forward, post back here and I'll be happy to help. Regards, Joe
Cindy GiovanettiTranscriptionAuthor Commented:
Many thanks, Joe.  Just now a newbie transcriptionist was looking for help and I offered to help them.  I told them that somebody just gave me a bunch of help (with this macro), and I'm just passing the favor along.  :)
Joe WinogradDeveloperCommented:
Very nice of you to pay it forward! :)
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