Combine Shapes in Apple Apps

You can create new shapes by using a set of four commands in Pages, Numbers and Keynote. These commands will combine one or more shapes to make a new shape. This is often easier than drawing your own shape from scratch.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Combine Shapes in Apple Apps.

If you've ever played around with Shapes in either Keynote, Numbers, or Pages you know that you can create the basic shapes like squares, circles, rectangles, triangles, and all that. But you can also create custom shapes by using Draw with Pen.

Then you can draw some various points, you can close it up, and then you can go back and even curve some of the areas. Move the points around and you can define this area and fill it and move it around as you want. You can see I can fill it pretty easily.

But there's another way to create shapes that you may not know about. You can use the regular shape. So let's say let's start with a square here and make that pretty large. Let's add a circle, let's change the color of that so we can see it a little better, and let's make that large. You can combine these shapes to make a new one.

So I'm going to select this one. I'm going to hold the Command key down and select this one so I've got both selected. I'm going to go to Format, Shapes and Lines, and you can see under there I've got the option to Unite, Intersect, Subtract, or exclude shapes.

Uniting puts them both together into one shape. You can see it all changes to be one style so I lose that second color there. But this is one shape with a special outline there. I could've actually put a whole bunch of different shapes together to do this.

I'm going to Undo, Command Z, and I'm going to instead use Intersect Shapes and that's going to just use the portion of the shape where the two intersected. So Undo that.

I'll go to now Subtract Shapes and you can see it removes the shape in front from the one behind. The last one, Exclude Shapes, will include all the areas except the ones that overlap. So you can see there are four different ways to create a new shape from two previous shapes.

Now you can do this with lots of different shapes. So, for instance, let's put a circle here and I'm going to Option, Drag to create lots of copies just by holding the Option key down and dragging. I can create kind of a cloud of these circles. Once I'm done creating them all I can select them all just by dragging around the outside of it, I can go Format, I can go Lines and Shapes, and I can unite them all together to create one big regular shape that can be styled as one.

Comments: 2 Responses to “Combine Shapes in Apple Apps”

    2 years ago

    You can do the same thing without using the several steps using menus, by selecting all the shapes and using the Format Panel (Apple calls it “Inspector”) and clicking on the Arrange Tab at the bottom to choose Unite, Intersect, Subtract of Exclude, using Undo between each to try the next one.

    DK Jones
    2 years ago

    This is awesome! I had no idea there were boolean functions in Pages! Now if there was a way to put text into these non-standard shapes, I could live well and be happy! Thanks for dropping the knowledge.

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