Pages ’09: Using Modifier Keys to Select Text

As you may be aware, using modifier keys in places like the Finder and iPhoto makes selecting items easy. Click on a file, hold down the Command key, and then you can include other files in your selection, even if they aren’t sitting right next to each other.

But did you know that similar rules apply to text selection? In Pages, for example, you can use Command, Option, and Shift to do some pretty funky things with your text, which can make formatting documents much simpler. How, you ask? Well, I’m not going to tell you! It’s my secret! Oh, all right, I’ll talk about it. But only because Jeff Gamet would probably scold me if I cut the article off here.

So let’s all open a Pages document and decide what text to play with. The first trick to know is that you can place your cursor in your document, hold down Shift, and then click elsewhere to select everything between the two points automatically.

Click at the beginning of your section…


…and then hold down Shift and click at the end. Everything in between will be selected. Fast and groovy!


Secondly, if you select some text and then hold down the Command key, you can highlight additional sections that aren’t joined together.

This is very useful in a lot of situations, such as if you need to add text formatting to only parts of your document. You can select everything that’ll be formatted the same and apply all of your changes at once. Kinda handy, huh?

Lastly, holding down the Option key will allow you to drag to select boxes of text rather than going line by line. 

One of the best uses I’ve found for this is in pulling specific stuff out of columns. 

If you’re creating a really fancy-pants document, you could also use this Option trick to select only the first letter of each line to format (as I’ve done below).

And now, the big finish! If you combine Command and Option together while you’re selecting text, you can—wait for it—do both of their functions at once. At once. This means that you can select as many boxes of text as you like, even if they make absolutely no sense, like my screenshot below! Sh-bang! Zowie!

Calm down, Melissa. Geez.

Anyway, text-selection modifiers work the same way in other places in Mac OS X, like TextEdit and Terminal, but I use them most often in Pages. Perhaps you’ll find the idea worthwhile, too, despite the strange screenshots I’ve used for this article. 

I’m done, Mr. Gamet! I told them everything I know. Can you cut this tracking device off my leg now? I’ll make a resolution not to be so weird in 2012!


Who am I kidding—I couldn’t keep that resolution if I tried.