TextEdit;10 things you didn’t know you could do on Mac

TextEdit is a stock application with macOS that allows you to open and edit documents. It appears as simple and basic but offers numerous features, some of which are often overlooked by users. Below is a list of ten features that you may not know about and that can be useful in various areas.

Open and read RFT, Word and OpenOffice documents

TextEdit allows you to open and edit RTF documents created with other word processing apps, including Microsoft Word and OpenOffice. It is also possible to save documents in various formats, making them compatible with other apps. From the “File” menu select “Save as” (holding down the Option key on “Save”): you can indicate where to save a document and in what format (RFT, ODT, DOCX, DOC, XML).

Example of a Word document opened in TextEdit

Create and edit HTML documents

You don’t need dedicated apps to write or edit HTML code, just use TextEdit. You can view HTML documents like in a browser or use TextEdit to edit the code. To manage HTML documents you just need to create simple text files, choose File> New, then choose Format> Convert to text-only format. At this point you can write in HTML; by choosing File> Save, you can enter the name followed by the .html extension (for example, index.html), then click “Save”.

When asked which extension to use, click “Use .html”. From the Application Preferences, in the “Open and Save” section, you can select “View HTML files as HTML code instead of formatted text” to always open HTML files in code editing mode. Also in the Preferences, under “HTML saving options”, you can choose a document type, a CCS (Cascading Style Sheets) style setting and an encoding. If you open an HTML file and you don’t see the code, TextEdit is displaying it as if it were open in a browser (as formatted text).

Indicate information about the document properties

By selecting “Show Properties” from the File menu you can indicate details such as: author, company, copyright, title, subject, keywords and comment. These parameters are stored in files saved in RTF format and are also useful for searching using Spotlight. You can also recall the settings in question from the “TextEdit” menu by choosing “Preferences” and from here indicate other settings: the saving format (RTF or text), the default font, options on spell checking, etc.

Integrate multimedia files

As is possible with Pages and Word, also with TextEdit it is possible to create documents with integrated multimedia elements (images, movies, audio). TextEdit manages these elements by saving files in a format called .rtfd (Rich Text Format Dictionary, also known as rich text format with attachments).

To insert an element just drag a photo, a movie or a file on the document from the Finder, or select the item “Attach file” from the “Edit” menu, select the photo, the movie or the file, then click on Open. By attaching an element, the application asks if we want to convert to RTFD format. By adding an image to a document, we can use the Highlight tool to write or draw on the image, rotate it or crop it, or add shapes, text or a signature.

Clickable links

In TextEdit documents you can insert clickable links. Write or modify the desired text, position yourself in the point where you want to insert the link, highlight the word or paragraph to be transformed into a link and select the item “Add link” from the “Edit” menu; at this point enter the URL with the website to be recalled; it is also possible to insert particular links: for example, using the prefix “mailto:” we can open the default e-mail app (indicating mailto: tua@email.com

Add tables and lists

TextEdit is convenient for adding tables and creating lists in RTF documents. Go to where you want to insert a table, choose Format> Table, and use the controls to adjust the number of rows and columns, text alignment, cell color, and other options. Commands are available for joining cells, adding tables within tables, editing rows and columns. Creating lists is just as simple: just select the text you want to convert into a table, click on the “Bulleted and numbered lists” button in the toolbar and choose the desired style; it is also possible to customize the list style in various ways, indicating prefix, points, suffix. numbers, etc.

Complete partially entered words

While we are writing a text we can see the possible completions for a given word that we have partially entered. For example, for a word typing “tip”, the suggestion list will be: “type”, “typological” or “typographic”. For a complete word, for example “return,” the options displayed will be smaller, such as “return” and “returned”. To view possible completions, place the insertion point at the end of a partial word and choose “Complete” from the Edit menu (or simply press Option-Esc).

Listen to documents read aloud

TextEdit can read the entire document or part of the document aloud. Choose Edit> Speech> Start Playing. To hear only part of a document, first select the text you want to hear. Select Edit> Speech> Stop Playing to stop reading the document. If the system does not pronounce what is selected correctly, open the System Preferences, select “Accessibility”, in the left section select “Voice” and (on the right) set an Italian voice (Alice or Luca) as the system voice; if an Italian voice is not selected, the system pronounces the texts as if they were written in English.

Arrange the text vertically

In TextEdit, it is possible to insert text vertically (useful for languages ​​that require this arrangement). Just open the “Format” menu and choose “Vertical Layout”. The same option can be invoked from anywhere in the document by holding down the Ctrl key, then choosing Layout Orientation> Portrait.

Print headers and footers

By printing a TextEdit document, we can display the page number (in the footer), the date and the title of the document (in the header). Select “File”, choose “Print”, select the option “Show details” and from here select “Print header and footer”. Headers and footers appear only on printed pages, not on the screen.

by Abdullah Sam
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