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Select text word-by-word System
This might be old hat to some, but I just discovered this behavior by accident (in both 10.3 and 10.4). If you double-click to select a whole word, and then hold the mouse button down, you can then drag to select contiguous words, one word at a time. This is similar to how Microsoft Word works. It seems to work in Safari, TextEdit, TextWrangler, Mail.app, Finder, etc.

[robg adds: This was news to me, too, and it seems to work across Carbon, Cocoa, and even Java apps (jEdit, at least).]
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Select text word-by-word | 15 comments | Create New Account
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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: simbalala on Nov 14, '05 07:18:23AM

Geez, this behavior goes back to System 4, maybe further. Not sure how far back but way far.



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: aschus on Nov 14, '05 07:19:53AM

... and if you triple click, hold and drag you can select text paragraph by paragraph.



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: thiefhunter on Nov 14, '05 08:17:54AM

It's original. From the days of the 128k Mac (with no hard drive, just one 400k floppy drive which held system, app, and data!).



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: pub3abn on Nov 14, '05 09:17:32AM

I think its easier to double-click the word, and then simply shift-click the final contiguous word you want in your selection. Accomplishes the same thing with less mousing.



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Handy Old-School Trick
Authored by: lullabud on Nov 14, '05 10:13:19AM

As noted, this is definitely an old-school trick, but it's still really handy! It works in Windows too. Dragging is also a cool part of it, as is triple-click with dragging.



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: MJCube on Nov 14, '05 12:47:33PM

I use this click-&-½ technique every day, and have done so for at least 15 years. It's particularly elegant with my trackball, where my left button does a normal click and my right button locks the mouse button down. So I can left-click + right-click on a word, then roll the trackball to the end of the selection and right-click again to release.

I remember when Shift-click used to extend the selection to exactly the cursor position, whether you had started selecting with a double-click or not. But the newer and more useful double-click + Shift-click behavior is at least as old as OS X itself; maybe it wasn't standard across different text engines until more recently.

One difference from Word on Windows: the default mode there is that merely dragging across text, once you cross a word boundary, always starts selecting whole words. This is interesting but not always useful, so I'm glad Apple hasn't gone that far.



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: gaoshan on Nov 14, '05 01:20:12PM

I am ashamed to admit this but I have been a Mac user since the beginning (and I used an Apple IIe before that) and I... DID NOT KNOW THIS. UGH! I am stunned that my ignorance of this was so persistent.

The only reason I am exposing my shame like this is that, just when you think you know it all (I program in PHP, am proficient with MySQL, can stumble through BASH, can get around in Applescript, am and have always been the "Mac Guy" wherever I live/work and host my own server) along comes a low hanging fruit that you somehow, impossibly, have repeatedly overlooked for years. This reminds me to keep my eyes, ears and brain open even when I have "mastered" the subject.



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: the_webmaestro on Nov 14, '05 01:30:01PM

It's worked for me (in most apps) for as long as I can remember (back to 1986). Unfortunately, it doesn't work (for me) in Firefox.

---
Father of Jeremy Logan



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: RandyMan on Nov 14, '05 05:17:33PM

That's because FireFox is not a Mac application. It tries, and mostly fails.



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: lpangelrob on Nov 14, '05 07:10:06PM

Oddly enough, it doesn't work in Camino either, which is further along in being a Mac application.

---
-Robert Guico



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: billclinton on Nov 15, '05 03:00:09PM

Well, face it, web browsers have pretty much broken every user interface guideline that Apple has ever published. At least some sanity is returning with Safari, but the very nature HTML combined with the monkeys that write it has pretty much hosed decent web page GUIs forever. (Example: Selecting a menu item loads a new page.)



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: seamus on Nov 14, '05 04:40:43PM

In Quark, and other page layout programs, a triple click will select the entire line, clicking 4 times will select the entire paragraph, and clicking 5 times will select all the text in the box.

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Seamus



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: deh2k on Nov 15, '05 05:05:26PM

I do the double-click, drag thing all the time.

For the record, you can usually move the cursor by words with the keyboard by pressing the left or right arrows with the option key down. Shift-option extends the selection by words.



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: Frungi on Apr 06, '06 01:06:42AM

Actually, in MS Word (if you disabled the automatic word selection), double-clicking selects a word and dragging only selects characters.



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Select text word-by-word
Authored by: kkling on Jun 16, '06 10:45:42AM

This behavior does not exist in Firefox or in Thunderbird. Does anyone know 1) why? and 2) how to make it work with those two apps? Does Mozilla use it's own text editor? Can I tell those apps to use the native text editor?



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