Mac Tip: Create Your Own Shortcuts and Use Special Characters

Alvaro Bernedo

Tips for Text on MacIn past articles we have already shown you how to create your own keyboard shortcuts on your iPhone as well as 21 useful ones for working with text on your Mac. This time though, we go a little further to show you how you can take advantage of your Mac’s text input settings to create your own set of keyboard shortcuts for you to use with almost any Mac app.

Let’s get going.

Step 1: Open System Preferences on your Mac and click on the Language & Text menu to reveal its settings.

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Step 2: Click on the Text tab to reveal the Symbol and Text Substitution field. This field is composed of three different columns: One where you choose which keyboard shortcut or text replacement combination is enabled, another one that shows the “trigger” text used to activate the shortcut and the last one showing how the final input will look like.

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Step 3: Click on the “+” icon located the bottom left of the Symbol and Text Substitution field to create a new keyboard shortcut.

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Step 4: Start typing your new keyboard shortcut. Type the shortcut on the Replace field, and the text that will substitute it on the With field. In our example, we created a shortcut to replace aws with the word awesome every time we type those three letters.

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While this should be enough for your shortcut to work with most applications, there are some applications on your Mac that will need you to adjust an extra setting for your newly-created keyboard shortcut to work though. Some of those are (oddly) Apple’s native applications, like iMessage, Numbers, Pages,Mail and even TextEdit. Try your shortcut out on any other application and follow the step below if it doesn’t work.

Step 5: Whenever you find an application on your Mac that doesn’t support this shortcut/substitution tip, head to the app’s Edit menu on the menu bar, select Substitutions and the enable Text Replacement from the available options.

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Bonus Tip: Entering Special Symbols on Your Mac

Now you know how to create and use your own keyboard shortcuts on your Mac. However, there might be times when you want to use a symbol or series of symbols when you are writing, that are not common or that simply have no shortcut associated to them, like these:

⬊ ↗ ‽ ¥ ₱ ♞ ✄

Thankfully, Macs also come with these and far more special characters that are just a shortcut away. To call them up, press Command+Option+T while on most text editors and the Character Viewer will appear.

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From it, you will be able to select characters from several major categories, like Arrows, Currency Symbols, Pictographs and more. Just double click on any of them and they will be added to your text. You can even add them to your Favorites if you like.

There you go. A couple of nice, very useful tips that will help you work with text even faster and with more flexibility. Enjoy!

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Alvaro Bernedo

Written By

Alvaro Bernedo

Contributor at Guiding Tech