RAW Computing

Word suggestions for TextEdit on the Mac and more

The Mac's built in apps are simple, but useful and TextEdit is fine for creating basic documents, writing letters and so on. It has some hidden features that you may not be aware of. Here we will take a look at some of them that will enable you to perform functions you never knew existed.

Get useful word suggestions

TextEditStart TextEdit and enter the first two or three letters of a word. Press the Esc key and a list appears showing all the possible ways of completing the word. Enter hel press Esc and there is a ling list of words like hello, helicopter, Helen, held, helium and so on.

Just select the word you want using the mouse or keyboard (cursor up/down and Enter), and it is typed in for you.

If you open a file in TextEdit, or create a new one and save it, clicking the filename in the title bar of the TextEdit window enables you to rename it. A menu drops down with several useful options like Rename.

It also shows when the file was last opened and you can browse previous versions and go back to an earlier one if you want to discard the current version.

Click and drag the icon in the title and and drop it on the desktop or in a Finder window to create an alias to the file. (An alias is not the file itself, but a pointer or shortcut to it. Click it and the file opens wherever it is stored on the disk or in iCloud.)

Where is the Save As... command?

The latest versions of Apple apps use iCloud for storage and they have also done away with the need to save anything. You can just quit and the next time you start the app it carries on where you left off. It's a bit like on the iPad. In some ways this is useful, but in other ways it is not. Suppose you are editing a file in TextEdit and you want to save it under a new name? Save As simply isn't an option in TextEdit any more.

Actually, it is still there and it is jusyt hidden. When running TextEdit in Mountain Lion, click the File menu and then hold down the Option key. The Duplicate menu magically turns into Save As... which is just what we need. There's a shortcut key combo and if I understand those stupid Apple symbols for keys correctly, it's Option+Shift+Command+S.

Find options

Click Edit, Find and then enter a word to search for. The document is dimmed and all the occurances are highlighted. If you click in the document it is un-dimmed and the highlights are removed. The Find box is still active though and you can jump from occurance to occurance using the forward and back arrows to the right of the search box.

Jump to a line

Some text editors have an option to show line numbers and this is useful when editing code like HTML web pages and similar files. TextEdit cannot display line numbers, yet there is an option to jump to any line in the document, which is weird. Click Edit, Find, Select Line or just press Command+L. Not having line numbers makes it pretty usefuless though.

Drag and drop text

If you are browsing the web and researching information, you might want to copy some text into a TextEdit document. Just click and drag over the text on the web page to select it. Then click and drag it to the TextEdit icon in the Dock. A new document is created containing the text. You can also drag text from a browser and drop it into an open TextEdit document window too.

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