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Autocomplete in TextEdit Apps
While getting some work done far too late at night, my fingers accidentally pressed some buttons on the keyboard and up popped a dialog I've never seen before: an autocomplete window for TextEdit.

To activate the autocomplete window, simply start typing a word and press the escape key. A window will pop up listing all of the words starting with the letters you entered. You can use the arrow keys to go up and down the list. Pressing enter/return completes the word in your TextEdit document. If there are too many words in the autocomplete list, you can type additional letters (without having to manually close the autocomplete window) and hit the escape key again to bring up the autocomplete window with the filtered down choices. Pressing escape while the autocomplete window is open will close it.

I find this to be particularly useful for long words where I might need assistance to complete the spelling of the word.

As far as I'm aware, this hint is not documented on Apple's website.

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. I didn't see a previous hint on it either.]
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Autocomplete in TextEdit | 20 comments | Create New Account
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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: asmeurer on Oct 27, '10 08:08:56AM

Believe it or not, this has actually been around for a while. It's one of those super secret features of Mac OS X. I kind of doubt there isn't a hint for it somewhere, though.

And it should work in more places than just TextEdit, too.



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: mantrid on Oct 27, '10 08:13:47AM
This is a dupe. It's so old that they key-combo has changed since it was originally published (it was originally option-escape), but even that change is old since it happened in not the current 10.6 but rather the previous OS X version (Leopard).

original macosxhints.com hint

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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: crarko on Oct 27, '10 08:49:48AM

Heh, I searched for hints with "autocomplete" and "textedit" in them. You have a good memory. :)



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: billbarstad on Oct 27, '10 08:25:29AM

Well, I haven't seen this hint before, and it's a very useful one. Thanks!



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: desoporp on Oct 27, '10 08:27:07AM

Nice hint and a timely reminder even if it was mentioned before for Panther (with a different key combo!)

I can also confirm that this works across many of Apple's Apps such as Pages & iChat.



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: Toadling on Oct 27, '10 08:34:43AM

I'm surprised there isn't already a hint on this one; system-wide text completion in Mac OS X has been around for ages, perhaps even since the first public beta back in 2000. I can't remember when I started using it, but I see Gruber wrote about it in 2006:

http://daringfireball.net/2006/10/hallelujah_autocompletion

Any app that makes use of OS X's built-in text editing system (NSTextView?) can take advantage of the completion feature (not just TextEdit). For example, I regularly use it in iChat, Yojimbo, and OmniFocus (although, in OmniFocus you'll need to either use F5 as the completion key (Option-Escape might also work, not sure) or use a hidden default to change the default meaning of the Escape key in OF).

Unfortunately, text completion doesn't work in Apple Mail ó I think it uses WebKit to render the contents of its editing windows. Text completion also doesn't seem to work in text inputs or text areas in Safari, nor does it work in Pages. :-(



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: lowbatteries on Oct 27, '10 09:22:29AM

option-escape works in Mail. It also works in many places where escape by itself doesn't work, like forms (just tried it as I was typing this).



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: lowbatteries on Oct 27, '10 09:24:41AM

option-escape still works system wide, like in the address bar and search bar for Safari, forms on webpages, and anywhere else where escape might have other uses.



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: Toadling on Oct 27, '10 09:47:17AM

Thanks! I should have tried that a long time ago.



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: kbundies on Oct 27, '10 08:45:51AM

and the interesting thing: it seems to work MultiLingual, too.
So if I (on an English System) start a - for example - German word, it does also autocomplete. Donít really know, how this works. It might have to do with the languages chosen in the "International" System Prefs.



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: themadgm on Oct 27, '10 09:05:46AM

"nor does it work in Pages. :-("

I just tried it out, it does work in Pages.



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: Toadling on Oct 27, '10 09:52:33AM

So it does! Very nice. This feature is more widespread than I thought. I guess I should try Option-Escape when Escape by itself doesn't work.



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: marriott on Oct 27, '10 11:00:09AM

Just thought I'd mention: this also works in TeXShop, where it is incredibly useful.



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: djc0 on Oct 27, '10 03:07:47PM

But not in TextMate ... :-(



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: fporta on Oct 28, '10 02:55:28AM

BUG
In Mail.app, applying option-ESC to any word but the last one, causes the insertion of a return.



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: Sesquipedalian on Nov 01, '10 10:41:02AM

Not for me.



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Documented in Edit menu
Authored by: PCheese on Nov 01, '10 01:16:35AM

It's documented in the app itself. It's listed under the TextEdit's Edit menu as "Complete" with a shortcut of option-escape.



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: wsw on Nov 02, '10 09:45:19PM

Also works in Bean



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: sipatel on Nov 05, '10 04:25:25PM

I just learnt to spell better...



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Autocomplete in TextEdit
Authored by: uchuugaka on Dec 07, '10 08:35:02AM

This has been around since NeXT.
This is a default behavior of any vanilla NSTextView.
It uses the default dictionary for auto-completion and basic rules of a trie.
Many apps override or customize TextView behaviors.

You can see the same behavior on every version of Mac OS X. It all depends on what the author of the actual application did. It's one of those things like Services that has often just been forgotten.

TextMate users, nope. TextMate has a HIGHLY customized text system. It does not use much of the Mac OS X text system. (which is why it does not handle non-Latin language layout worth a flip) It's too bad, that great app has stagnated for soooo long.


NSTextViews and NSTextFields also by default contain the ability to perform a lot of basic Emacs-like text transformations. (transpose characters, yank, etc...)



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