It wasn’t a poltergeist, but for a short while, the supernatural seemed like a reasonable explanation for a customer’s problem. She was typing in Microsoft Word 2011 for the Mac, and the page kept jumping around, thanks to the cursor moving to different parts of the document without her doing anything.
At first I didn’t believe her, just as none of the other tech support professionals she consulted had, either. Microsoft’s Help Desk had her delete Word’s preferences, reinstall Microsoft Office, and jump through other essentially random hoops, all to no avail. They even suggested that perhaps her trackpad was accepting input from her wrists, but she wasn’t touching it. Then the problem happened to me while I was showing her how to work with numbered lists.
While investigating the problem, now that I knew she wasn’t hallucinating, I found a reference to a similar-sounding issue in an old Web post. Following that lead, I looked on the Review tab, where I noticed that, even though Track Changes was off, the Tracking panel’s view pop-up menu was set to Final Showing Markup. That’s the default setting, and shouldn’t have posed a problem, but when I changed the view to Final, the cursor movement suddenly stopped. The problem was reproducible in her other documents as well; toggling between Final and Final Showing Markup brought it back again.
I still haven’t been able to figure out why this happened, although I theorize that she may have made a change to her Normal.dot template while Track Changes was turned on, possibly pulling in a reviewer’s comment bubble. While this isn’t the only time I’ve seen this problem, it’s not common. Nonetheless, if you’re experiencing mysterious cursor movement in a Word document, give this solution a try.