Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The case of the missing pencil

Google started messing around with Blogger's very useful quick-edit tools in early 2021, but today there is a new issue affecting some users.


These tools are little icons of pencils, visible only to the signed-in blog owners, that link a published post directly to its edit page.

Very handy for making quick revisions, and other work.

Recently, some who had managed to retain this feature through the chaos of the past year and a half report that these pencils have vanished.

Here is how to get them back.

Usability takes a hit

Blogger has been shedding features since a major rewrite of code that began in 2019.

Actually, as far back as 2017 blog themes introduced in that year did not include the quick-edit tools. In older themes users could enable these tools for both blog posts (and pages) and for sidebar widgets.

To say this was handy is a gross understatement. The alternative path to editing these elements is to locate the post or widget on the dashboard (posts on Post page, widgets on Layout).

In early 2021, Google abruptly yanked the quick-edits from all blogs. It then restored them, and later removed them from widgets, but not posts and pages.

Icon: Screwdriver and wrench, crossed
Quick-edits for widgets, RIP

Sometime after that, Google removed the setting for enabling or disabling the quick-edits from the dashboard. (It had been an option in the blog-post widget in Layout.)

This create curious situation: many users still had the capacity for this feature, and those who had it turned on still did. But users could neither enable nor disable it—could not flip the preference either way.

This set the stage for the next round of disfunction.

Vanishing pencils

A small number of users (actually, we don't know how many, but it is a minority) who had the pencil are reporting that it's now gone. 

Something Google did rippled through the bloggerverse and switched off the preference for these blogs.

Since that preference is no longer available to users (see above!), these bloggers have no obvious remedy.

Here is the totally not obvious one.

Another bug, another workaround

I use "bug" advisedly, since the removal of this feature seems to still be, ultimately, in the cards. But I think Google did not intend for this particular change to happen now.

Still, they haven't fixed it and aren't likely to.

To the rescue rides Soraya Lambrechts, a Belgian blogger whose blog is probably the most-comprehensive documentation of Blogger theme code on the web.

She provides directions for how to edit your theme code to restore the quick-edits to posts (alas, not to widgets).

It's in French, and you have to find it on the page. Google translate works pretty well.

Proceed with caution

Here at Too Clever I usually won't promote hacks or solutions that entail editing your blog theme. 

The whole idea of Blogger is to make that functionality available though a quality user interface. You should not have to crack open the hood and mess with the code.

Unfortunately, in this case, perhaps you do. But I would like to offer a few warnings and cautions.

  • First of all, if you think you are affected by this bug, make sure you are signed in to the blogging account. The pencils are only visible to blog admins.
  • Similarly, make sure your blog theme supports this feature. The 2017 responsive themes do not.
  • Finally, make a complete backup of your theme xml before you touch any of the code in your theme. If you make a mistake, you can then revert back by importing the backup into the blog.

My hat is off to Soraya. I add that I would not be posting this solution had I not tested it. It works for me, and I hope it does for you as well.

Update: A reader (below) has shared a different approach to restoring quick-edit-like functionality. It should work with any blog regardless of theme.

I am grateful to all  my readers, and encourage comments!

The long-term fate of this feature, with or without fixes, is unknown.

pencil icon

PS: a brief history of quick-edit chaos

2017 New Blogger themes do not include quick-edits.
Jan 2021 Google suppresses all quick-edits from all blogs. As a side effect, users cannot delete their comments on other blogs.
Jan 2021 Workaround restores visibility of the quick edits.
Jan 2021 Google restores the quick-edits to everyone, probably because of the comments side-effect.
Jul 2021 Google removes quick edits from widgets. (Previous workaround won't work this time.)
2021 Google removes the setting for quick-edits, but blogs that had them keep them.
Ongoing Some users who had the quick-edit pencil report it is missing.


  1. I got tired of dealing with Google's fussiness, so I just made a bookmarklet that let's me edit any post directly:


    1. @Sam, thanks! This is really quite clever, and as a bonus should work with those new blog themes that never supported the quick-edits.

    2. Wow, this works great. Thank you Sam!

  2. The pencil is bewildering. It displays for me on my Mac (I got it back with Cascadea) and my iPhone but not on my iPad.

    The bookmarklet is nifty, but it doesn’t seem to work in Safari. (Javascript not allowed to be used, etc.)

  3. Ms. Lambrechts' fix works like a charm. I'm indebted to you, and to her.