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Show Substitutions

TextEdit “Substitutions” (from the Edit menu or contextual menu) makes automatic substitutions for you as you type. For instance, “Text Replacement” corrects obvious spelling mistakes (it substitutes the for teh, etc.) and turns a typed fraction, such as 7/8, into a real fraction, ⅞. Below are several of the other substitution options.

Use typographer’s quotes

TextEdit provides typographer’s quotes, or Smart Quotes. Smart quotes (and apostrophes) are the curly quotes, not the straight, typewriter quotes. Nothing will make your work look as amateurish as typewriter quotes.

The Substitutions panel provides extra options for Smart Quotes so you can activate automatic quotation styles for other languages. Turn Smart Quotes off when you want to type feet and inch marks. For instance, I am 5′ 7“ tall, not 5’7” tall. To get this panel, go to the Edit menu, choose “Substitutions,” and then choose “Show Substitutions.”

Create live web links and email links

It’s easy to create web links and email links on a TextEdit page. If you send someone the TextEdit file, that person can click on a web link; her browser will open and go to the page you specify. An email link in the document opens her email program, pre-addressed to whomever you specified.

If you make a PDF of your document (see page 73), the links will work in the PDF.

Create links as you type web addresses:

  1. Go to the Edit menu, slide down to “Substitutions,” then choose “Smart Links.” If there is a checkmark next to “Smart Links,” it’s already on.

    Or Control-click in the document, slide down to “Substitutions,” then choose “Smart Links.”

  2. On your TextEdit page, just type the web address. You don’t need the www part of the web address, or the http:// part. If the address ends with .com, .edu, or .org, the link appears automatically. You’ll know if it’s working because the text will turn into a blue, underlined link.

    If the domain (the .com part) is more unusual, such as .info, you’ll have to manually add the link, as explained below.

Sometimes the text on the page is not an actual address, but you want the link to go to an email or web address. For instance, perhaps you wrote, “Please visit our Mary Sidney web site,” and you want the link attached to “Mary Sidney” to go to, or you want to say Email me! as a link to your actual email address. In either case, use the manual process described below to add a link.

To manually create a web link or an email link on a TextEdit page:

  1. Type the text that you want to turn into a link. This text can be anything—it doesn’t have to be the email or web address itself!
  2. Select the text that you just typed in.
  3. From the Edit menu, choose “Add Link....”
  4. Web address: type the address. Make sure you include this code at the beginning of the web address: http: //

    Email: Type into the field: mailto:

    Immediately after the colon, type the entire email address just as you would address it:

  5. Click OK.

To remove a link from the text on a TextEdit page:

  1. Click in the text a few characters away from the link to set the flashing insertion point. Use the left or right arrow keys to move the insertion point into the linked text.
  2. From the Edit menu, choose “Add Link....”
  3. Click “Remove Link,” then click Ok.

Use Data Detectors

Data Detectors is one of several Substitutions available in TextEdit that enhance your text. The Data Detectors feature, like Smart Links, makes your text interactive. When you hover the cursor over a street address or phone number in a TextEdit document, the cursor draws a marquee around the address and/or phone number. Click the triangle button that appears to show a contextual menu of options (circled, below). You will see different options depending on what is selected.

Data detection is probably turned on already. If it isn’t: To turn on data detection, go to the Edit menu, choose “Substitutions,” then select the “Data Detectors” option.

You can also right-click (or Control-click) on any empty spot in the document to open a contextual menu. Slide down to “Substitutions,” then choose “Data Detectors.” A checkmark next to a Substitution item means it is enabled; select it again to disable it.

Change case (as in upper- and lowercase)

The Edit menu also contains a command called Transformations to change the case of selected letters quickly and easily. That is, you can change a word that starts with a lowercase letter to one that starts with a capital letter, or if someone wrote you something in all caps you can change it to lowercase with the click of a button.

Select some text and Control-click (or right-click) on that selection, or simply Control-click (or right-click) directly on an unselected word. From the Edit menu, go to the Transformations submenu and choose “Make Upper Case,” “Make Lower Case,” or “Capitalize” (which capitalizes just the first letters of each selected word).

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