macOS: Basic Tricks for Fast Text Selection

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A couple of times recently, I’ve watched my trainees struggle with text selection. For a lot of folks, clicking and dragging slowly to select is all they know—so it’s my job to explain that there’s often a better way to do it! If you’re in the same boat and aren’t aware of the shortcuts for selecting words, paragraphs, and entire documents full of text, read on. I promise this’ll make your document-creation work much simpler if that’s the case.

So here’s the trick to it. As you probably know, clicking anywhere within text in a document will place your cursor there for deleting or adding to what you’ve written.

Click in text to set the Cursor position for text selection
See my cursor? SEE IT? God, someone should pay me extra for screenshots like that.

As I mentioned, you can of course click and drag to select text, but if you want to just select one word, it’s much faster to double-click on it.

text selection tip: Double-click to Select a single Word

A triple-click will select the entire paragraph your cursor is on. (This, I gotta admit, is my favorite text selection trick. I use it approximately every five minutes.)

text selection tip: Triple-click to Select a Paragraph

Finally, if you want to select everything within a document, email, or webpage, for example, there’s a keyboard shortcut for that—it’s Command-A, which is short for Edit > Select All.

text selection tip: Command-A Selects all the text

Do you readers have a favorite tip for manipulating text? Maybe it’s Paste and Match Style; that’s a good one. Another of my favorites is the built-in TextEdit feature to switch from straight quotes to curly in pasted text.

The Substitutions menu option in TextEdit includes a Replace Quotes feature

I think that’s pretty swell. And that didn’t have anything at all to do with what this article was about! Consider it a bonus tip from me.

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