Manipulating Text on Your Mac

Working with text on your Mac is really easy. Double-click a word. See what happens. It's as if you ran a light-blue marker across the word. You've highlighted, or selected, this word so that it can be deleted, moved, or changed.

Many times, you'll want to select more than a single word — perhaps a complete sentence, a paragraph, or several paragraphs. Here's how to highlight a block of text to delete it:

1. Using the mouse, point to the block in question.

2. Press and hold down the left mouse button and drag the cursor (which bears a slight resemblance to the Seattle Space Needle) across the entire section you want to highlight.

The direction in which you drag the mouse affects what gets highlighted. If you drag horizontally, a single line is selected. Dragging vertically selects an entire block.

3. Release the mouse button when you reach the end of the passage you want to be highlighted.

4. To immediately wipe out the selected text, press Delete.

Alternatively, start typing. Your old material is exorcised upon your very first keystroke and filled in with the new characters you type.

To select several pages of text at once, single-click at the beginning portion of the material you want to select and then scroll to the very bottom. While holding down the Shift key, click again. Everything in between clicks is highlighted.

So what happens when, upon further review, you want to keep some of the text you deleted? Fortunately, the Mac lets you perform a do-over. Choose Edit --> Undo Typing, and the text is miraculously revived.

Dragging and dropping

Select a passage in one of the ways mentioned in the preceding section. Now, anywhere on the highlighted area, click and hold down the mouse button. Roll the mouse across a flat surface to drag the text to its new destination. Release the mouse button to drop off the text.

You are not restricted to dragging and dropping text in the program you're in. You can lift text completely out of TextEdit and into Word, Stickies, or Pages, an Apple program that produces spiffy-looking newsletters and brochures.

Alternatively, if you know you'll want to use a text block in another program at some point in the future — you just don't know when — drop it directly onto the Mac desktop and call upon it whenever necessary.

Cutting and pasting

In the preceding section, you copied material from one location and moved a copy to another location. By contrast, cutting and pasting lifts material from one spot and moves it elsewhere without leaving anything behind. (In the typewriter era, you literally cut out passages of paper with scissors and pasted them onto new documents.)

After selecting your source material, choose Edit --> Cut (or press the keyboard alternative Command+X). To paste to a new location, navigate to the spot and choose Edit --> Paste (or press Command+V).

The Cut command is easily confused with Copy (Command+C). As the name suggests, the latter copies selected text that can be pasted somewhere else. Cut clips text out of its original spot.

The very last thing you copied or cut is temporary sheltered on the clipboard. It remains there until replaced by newer material you copy or cut.

If you can't remember what was last on the clipboard, choose Edit --> Show Clipboard when Finder (the dock icon to the farthest left) is activated.

Changing the font

When typewriters were in vogue, you were pretty much limited to the typeface of the machine. With computers, you can alter the appearance of individual characters and complete words effortlessly.

In the TextEdit window, click the pop-up menu Styles and choose Italic. Highlighted text becomes text. Now try Bold. Highlighted text becomes text.

You can use keyboard shortcuts in this instance. Just before typing a word, try pressing Command+I for italics or Command+B for bold. When you want to revert to normal type, just press those respective keyboard combinations again.

Making words bold or italic is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. You can dress up documents with different fonts, or typefaces. Open the Format menu and choose Font --> Show Fonts. You can change the typeface of any highlighted text by clicking a font listed in the pane labeled Family.

As usual, another way is available to view various fonts. In the lower-left corner of the Font window, click the icon that looks like the sun. Choose Show Preview from the menu. You'll be able to inspect various font families and typefaces in the preview pane that appears above your selection. Click the sun icon again to choose Hide Preview.

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