MacMost Now 602: Text Transformations and Substitutions

You can perform a variety of text transformations and substitutions using standard menu commands. For instance, you can change all of the characters in a selection to upper or lower case. You can also change straight quotes to curly quotes, two dashes to long dashes, and have segments of text automatically change as you type.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 602: Text Transformations and Substitutions.

Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode, let's look at text transformations and substitutions.
Now let's start here in TextEdit. I'm going to select all the text and I'm going to look in the edit menu. Now you may have notice some of the stuff here before, substitutions and transformations, but maybe you haven't had the chance to try it, so let's try transformations. I can do Make Upper Case and guess what happens? That's right. It changes all the text to upper case letters. Now you may want to use that say, for emphasizing something so maybe not so useful here but if I wanted to do this and make it upper case, it's a lot easier than retyping the word if it's a long word. Likewise, I can go ahead and making something lower case as well. Now that's very useful because sometimes somebody types an entire headline say into the MacMost forum, makes it all upper case and I don't want to post it like that so I'll actually select it all, make it all lower case and then maybe capitalize the first letter of the first word. Likewise you could also do the Capitalize, which capitalizes every letter of every word, which is useful if you're doing headlines in newsletters for instance, and then maybe just modify it a bit to make it a proper headline and there you go.
Now also, we've got the Substitutions menu. Now this is a set of checkmarks you can determine what type of subtitutions happen as you type. You can also select Show Substitutions which is actually another way to look at the Language & Text System Preferences panel under Text. You can see a list of the substitutions and also you can see some of the same options that are present in TextEdit in the Substitutions panel. Now notice the list here is basically some text that is replaced with other text, so for instance, the first one here is C surrounded by parentheses would be replaced by the copyright symbol. So I could try that here in TextEdit, and you can see how it replaced it automatically with this one symbol. Also the word teh automatically replaced with the, so you can use it to correct mistakes and also to easily type hard to find symbols like this.
You can also use Substitutions to work with quotes. So for instance I could type some quotes here around lazy and you can see they're straight up and down quotes, but if in Substitutions, I actually have it do Smart Quotes, you can see that it actually replaces the straight up and down quotes with the smart curly quotes on either side of the word. It just does it automatically. All I have to do is use shift and the quote key on the keyboard, and don't have to worry about actually what those characters are. Likewise if I were to select Smart Dashes, then by typing two dashes, you can see that it replaced it with an em dash, a longer dash there which is what's used in most more formal writing.
Now what's useful about choosing the Show Subtitutions panel is you can apply substitutions to things that are already there. So you can see here I've typed this text but I have two dashes and I have straight quotes. I can select all of this and since I'm set up for Smart Quotes and Smart Dashes, I will hit Replace in Selection and you can see it does it for me, so you can do it retroactively as well. So if you turn on Smart Links, all that does is it identifies when you type a link and will turn it into a clickable link just like that. If I had that turned off, this would just stay plain text.
Now you may have also noticed Smart Copy/Paste, so what does that do? Well, if I were to copy a word and then paste it here, you would expect it to paste right before the word quick, and then it would be one word, "jumpsquick" but instead when I paste you can see it's smart enough to put a space in between them. Watch what happens if I turn off Substitutions Smart Copy/Paste. I paste and you can see they're right up against each other.
Now the last substitution that we want to look at is Data Detectors, so the Data Detectors are just like links except that work on things like times and locations. So for instance if I type in this, looks normal and it is normal text except if you roll over it, you can see that it's actually this data detector and I can now add an event at that time. Likewise I can do it with addresses, and now if I were to roll over that you can see I can create a contact, jump to a map. Same kind of thing that you have available when you get an email message but you actually can create these in TextEdit.
So of course it goes without saying, these work mostly if you're in rich text format, although things like the transformations will work just fine in plain text. One thing is is how can you get the best of both worlds? Have them, but sometimes not use them. For instance, if I were to type a quote here, you can see it does a curly quote right away. Well an undo will work because this is considered two steps. I type the quote and it transforms the quote, substitutes the curly quote. So I do Command-Z, undo and I get the straight quote. So the same thing will happen if I ever want to get rid of that. Two dashes and undo. So you can see just by using an undo quickly after the substitution occurs, you can get the non-substitution equivalent. So I hope you found this useful. Until next time, this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 9 Responses to “MacMost Now 602: Text Transformations and Substitutions”

    8 years ago

    How do you get to Text Edit from Pages?

      8 years ago

      What do you mean?

        8 years ago

        I think he means he’d like these options in Pages–and so would I. Can’t find anything like this there, however. Am I missing something?

          8 years ago

          They aren’t in Pages, you are right. But you can do most of them in other ways. So it depends on the specific function. Substitutions can be controlled in the System Preferences and used in Pages.

            8 years ago

            Sounds like an upcoming MacMost video to me!

    Gary Stone
    8 years ago

    TextEdit is a powerful word processor. Thank you for the most helpful video.

    Alan Fries
    8 years ago

    Great video. Can you do all of this in Pages?

      8 years ago

      Some, in different ways. Which task in particular?

    Donna Brooks
    7 years ago

    Wow, very helpful! Why are there straight quotes in the first place? Why not just always use the curly quotes? It looks much better. Thanks, Gary!

Comments Closed.