If you use the free, open-source word-processing program LibreOffice Writer, and have discovered that the program does not save the last cursor position when you close a document, I can confirm that noxious behavior.
If you have searched for relief you may have come across a variety of proposed remedies, including claims that the last cursor position can be recovered by pressing the Shift+F5 key combination. You may also have tried that solution and found it did not work, or read responses from others indicating that Shift+F5 does not move the document view to the last saved cursor position.
When I press Shift+F5 on my keyboard as configured by default, that solution does not work. Like many keyboards, however, my keyboard requires that I press what is literally labeled the ‘F-Lock’ key to enable the functionality of the ‘F’ keys. If I do that — effectively turning on the ‘F’ keys on my keyboard — then Shift+F5 does indeed move the cursor and document view to the last saved position.
If you try this solution yourself — turning on the ‘F’ keys (which may also turn on an indicator light on your keyboard), then pressing Shift+F5 — I would like to know whether it does or does not work, and which version of LibreOffice you are using. And if it doesn’t work, keep reading.
I did not have this problem with LibreOffice until two months ago, when I undated Linux Mint Cinnamon from 19.3 to 21.1. In doing so the version of LibreOffice Writer that was installed with 19.3 — which I believe was version 6.x, but may have been even earlier — was replaced with the version that currently installs with Mint Cinnamon 21.1, meaning specifically Writer version 18.104.22.168.
After that update I did notice the irritating change in behavior, but because I had not been doing much document creation or editing I naively assumed that it was the result of some new function that had previously been default. When I finally got around to confirming that thesis, however, i not only found that was not the case for the cursor position specifically, I ended up reading many of the same frustrated messages that you probably read before finding your way here. For whatever reason, at some point LibreOffice Writer stopped remembering the last cursor position when a document was saved.
Regarding other proposed solutions, including particularly anything involving changes to user data or document properties, I want to emphasize that I did nothing except enable my ‘F’ keys and press Shift+F5. As to what the Shift+F5 combination does, that’s a good question. Like most large productivity suites, the LibreOffice team rolls out new help files with major versions, and for LibreOffice 7.3 that includes a massive Getting Started Guide. In that document we do find mention of Shift+F5 on p.179, but only as part of the larger key combination of Control+Shift+F5, which is used to toggle something called Navigator view.
If we look specifically for the shortcut keys used in LibreOffice Writer 7.3, however, we do find what the key combination and action we’re looking for:
F5 — Navigator on/off
Shift+F5 — Moves the cursor to the position that it had when the document was last saved before it was last closed.
Ctrl+Shift+F5 — Navigator on, go to page number
Those shortcut keys also apply to the latest version of Writer (7.5 as of this writing), but interestingly the Shift+F5 key combo is also absent from the shortcut-key page for Writer version 6.2. Suggesting that it may not have been implemented in that or earlier versions precisely because it was already the default setting. Before we consider what changed in the interim, however, we need to amend the instructions above.
If you activate the ‘F’ keys on your keyboard, and the Shift+F5 key combination still does not move the cursor to the last saved position, you should make sure you are using LibreOffice version 7.3 or later. (You can download the latest version of LibreOffice here.)
While my experience with LibreOffice is limited, I can still state categorically that this problem did not exist in whatever version of Writer I was using over most of the past decade. During all that time, documents created in or edited with Writer always opened to the last saved cursor position. (You can see the version history here, including the breakneck pace of updates and major revisions.)
When this damnable change happened isn’t clear, but from reading about the various versions the most likely explanation seems to be that a new or expanded feature usurped what was, previously — and appropriately, for any word-processing program — the default cursor behavior of Writer. Specifically, I think the Navigator function, which opens a dialog box that not only presents all of the individual elements in a given document, but allows the user to quickly toggle between them, was augmented in a way that encroached on the last cursor position when a document was saved. From a help file for version 7.2 titled Using the Navigator in Writer, here is hair-raising commentary about what LibreOffice calls ‘reminders’:
Reminders let you mark places in your document that you want to return to later on, for example to add or correct information or simply mark where you finished editing.
The possible uses of reminders are limited only by your imagination.
I’m not a programmer but I know a little something about software design, and introducing functions which are limited only by the user’s imagination is usually a recipe for grief. Still, what we want — meaning documents which remember the last cursor position — does seem to meet the criteria for a reminder. So it’s probably not a stretch to imagine that whenever reminders were implemented, the previously default cursor-saving behavior was effectively corrupted by adding that additional functionality.
In effect, Writer now ships with the option to mark places in a document, including the end of a document. The hacky fix that the programmers included to make up for the change in default behavior was the addition of the Shift+F5 key combination. And from the perspective of the teams, sub-teams and individual programmers who toil in obscurity to keep LibreOffice current, I get how they could have logically worked themselves into that decision.
Unfortunately, from the perspective of the user, allowing a word-processing program to save a document but erase the last known cursor position is antithetical to the very point of a such a program. In word-processing software the cursor marks the literal point at which the user’s thoughts are memorialized, and as such it exists not only as a state in software but as a state in consciousness. Where the cursor is located in a document is not simply a coordinate in code, it is by definition part of the creation and editing process, and thus the thinking process.
On that basis alone the previous behavior should be restored, and the position of the cursor should be retained by default when a document is saved. If there is some compelling argument that can be made for offering that as a choice then yes, by all means add yet another obscure setting which determines the placement of the cursor when a saved document is opened, but even then the last cursor location should be the default. (For users who prepend document entries in reverse chronological order, a checkbox which sets the cursor at the beginning of a document would indeed be useful.)
— Mark Barrett
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