Select Text Like A Pro [OS X Tips]

Select Text Like A Pro [OS X Tips]

Here’s a handful of tricks you can use when selecting text within a document or web page. Like many good tricks, these techniques are simple but could potentially change the way you work with your Mac.

Here’s another tip from Mac Kung Fu, which contains over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for OS X. It’s Amazon ($2.46) as well as other bookstores, and also as an eBook for all eReaders.

In some built-in Mac apps like TextEdit, as well as in Microsoft Office and Mozilla Firefox, it’s possible to select text in a variety of useful ways above and beyond simply clicking and dragging.

Holding down Command while clicking and dragging lets you select disparate sections (i.e. noncontiguous regions) of text. You could highlight one sentence at the beginning of a paragraph, for example, and while holding down Command, select another sentence at the end of a paragraph. Hitting Command + C will copy both to the clipboard. If you hit Command + V to paste, the two sentence components will be pasted on two separate lines.

Holding down Option will let you select rectangular blocks of text within a paragraph. This is hard to describe, so give it a try by holding down Option and clicking and dragging within a paragraph of text (try Option + Command if this doesn’t work). Again, hitting Command + C will copy it and Command + V will paste it. It’s hard to imagine how this would ever be useful, but you might find a use for it!

By clicking at the beginning of the region you want to select, then holding Shift and clicking at the end of the region, you’ll select everything in between. If you’ve already made a text selection, you can hold down Shift and click on either side of it to add text to the selection. Clicking within the selection while holding down Shift will let you subtract letters and words from the selection.

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  • James Gill

    doesnt  work in lion, am i doing something wrong, pressing command, each time i click, the previous selection disappears

  • Zulhazmi Mohd Ali

    Try use EextEdit

  • KeirThomas

    Quote from the article: “In some built-in Mac apps like TextEdit, as well as in Microsoft Office and Mozilla Firefox, it’s possible to select text in a variety of useful ways above and beyond simply clicking and dragging.”

  • joseluisbenavente

    Wuaw… I’d never notice the rectangular block selection…

    I use to select text using the keyboard, with combination of command, option and shift, and the arrows keys.
    ? or ? to move one char
    ? + ? or ? + ? to move to the beginning or the end of the word
    ? + ? or ? + ? to move to the beginning or the end of the line
    ? + ? or ? + ? to move to the beginning or the end of the document

    And with shift to select
    ? + ? or ? +? to select one char
    ? + ? + ? or ? + ? + ? to select to the beginning or the end of the word
    ? + ? + ? or ? + ? + ? to select to the beginning or the end of the word
    ? + ? + ? or ? + ? + ? to select to the beginning or the end of the word

  • Kuipo

    Vertical text selection is actually a REALLY helpful feature… but unfortunately the most important part about it doesn’t seem to work in OS X.  In programs like Sublime Text 2, I can highlight multiple lines using the option+click and drag and then start to type and it will type text on all of the lines at the same time.  Very helpful when coding, or just when you want to put a bullet point at the front of every line of text.

About the author

Keir ThomasKeir Thomas (http://keirthomas.com) is the author of Mac Kung Fu, which contains over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for Mac OS X Lion. He's also the author of over 10 other computing titles.

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