Why does Microsoft add features which irritate billion+ people?

image This applies to you as well.

Here is an example of an irritating feature which is there for more than 10 years…

Read on to find out why Microsoft is doing it.

Estimated reading time 3 min

See the problem

Suppose you want serial numbers in a column in Excel. What do we do?

We type 1 in first cell, 2 in next cell, select both and drag. Why?

Why not drag 1 itself? You know the answer – because it produces only 1,1,1,1,1.

Try it anyway… just type 1 and drag. Yes it repeats. But did you notice something else?

Those irritating icons which popup unnecessarily


Why do these things pop up? We don’t even know the name for it. But those things keep popping up all the time – when we drag, copy paste and many other situations.

Of course we never try to find why.

Why does Microsoft want to irritate billions of people?

This feature was introduced long back. Don’t remember the exact year, but I think at least 15 years if not more. That is not important. What is important is …

Does Microsoft know that this feature irritates almost every user?

Of course they know it. But what have they done about it?

May be they introduced it with some thought in mind, but users got irritated with it. So what should have been done long back?

They should have removed the feature. Simple task for Microsoft to do so. But they have not done it for so long. In fact that feature is getting enhanced.

A feature which irritates everyone is being improved! Does it make any business sense?

Which company would like to trouble their customers?

How to get rid of those icons?

This is a common question during the seminars I conduct. Of course there is a way of disabling these icons.

But, for a change, I refuse to tell you where this option is!

Read on to find out why…

The answer is NOT obvious

The answer is that – Microsoft is risking irritating you because they know that this feature is EXTREMELY USEFUL to you. Trust me on this one.

Let us click on the icon above and see what happens…


It shows that by default it did COPY because that is what most people expect when they drag any item. Now click on Fill Series and see what happens.


This is what we wanted. That icon knew what you wanted. Look at other options. You need those as well.

Flash Fill is new in Excel 2013. Read these articles to know about this brilliant feature.

Icon may look the same but options change

Here is the same icon… but this time the data was a Date – so options have changed.


For dates the default is to add one day and fill the series. But notice other options.

Fill months will find the end of future months – and yes – it understands leap years as well!


Conclusion: Irritating = Very Useful

Here are some more articles in this series.

Explore those icons is a good way of learning

Usually we should click those icons when you want to get a different output. But for now, because we have never clicked on them – use it as a method of learning.

Whenever that icon appears (and you have few extra seconds at hand), just click on it and see what it has to offer.

Remember that these options do NOT always appear in Right Click menu. Why? Because right click menu shows options which are relevant to the PLACE where you right clicked.

These icons show options which are variations of the ACTION you just performed.


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