Whether or not you use Microsoft Word, odds are that you will encounter Microsoft Word-formatted (.doc) documents fairly frequently, in email attachments, files produced by word-user colleagues, or informational data downloaded from the Internet.
This is not as much of a problem as it used to be for us non Word users. Many, (in fact most) word processors can open and save Word files these days with formatting reasonably intact. However, if you're using Leopard, you don't need any other Word-savvy software other than Text Edit, which can both open .doc files with basic formatting such as fonts, text formatting (bold, italic, etc.) colors, line- spacing, alignment and justification, etc., sustained reasonably accurately. It's not a perfect solution if you need to retain full document integrity. More advanced formatting such as borders, style sheets, graphics, footnotes, bulleted lists, and such don't survive the conversion intact or at all, but tables seem to translate, although not necessarily appearing exactly the same as they would in Word.
When you save a Text Edit document as a Word file, some of that sort of advanced formatting stuff actually will make the transition in the other direction, notably buttons, numbering, and tables, but not style sheets.
As for the issue of whether Text Edit really does qualify as a word processor, while it's true that the program's antecedents, including the earlier versions of Text Edit that came with previous editions of OS X, as well as SimpleText, and if you go far back enough TeachText - applications that filled the same role in the Classic Mac OS, which were more properly described as basic text editors, Leopard's Text Edit is now a pretty powerful word-crunching program in its own right.
For example, Text Edit supports style sheets, colored text, non-contiguous selections, automatic numbering and bulleted lists, tables, variable line spacing, and paragraph alignment, even kerning and ligatures when the font specified supports them, spell checking, grammar checking, as well as having a plain text editor mode in the TeachText, SimpleText tradition, with an option to switch between plain text and formatted text (ie: Rich Text Format or RTF) in the format menu. There is also a preferences setting to specify one or the other mode as default.
New features that come with Leopard Text Edit include:
Page numbering - via the "Print header and footer" command in the print dialog.
Smart Copy/Paste, which eliminates those pesky two-space gaps when you delete a word or phrase, and also readjusts gaps when you paste something in. This feature is available for individual documents from the Edit Menu (Substitutions - Copy/Paste), or globally by setting Smart Copy/Paste in the Preferences New Document tab.
Autosave - configurable at intervals from 15 seconds to five minutes in the Preferences Open And Save tab.
Auto Hyperlinks - this handy feature converts Web addresses automatically to clickable hyperlinks, and again can be selected from the Edit Menu (Substitutions - Smart Links),
Grammar Checking - choose "Check Grammar While Typing" from the Edit Menu's Spelling and Grammar submenu) more on this feature below.
Kerning - Found in the Format > Font submenu, the Kerning command feature adjusts letter-spacing so that your finished text will look professionally typeset rather than typewritten, or to squeeze or expand a word or phrase to fit in a heading or title more gracefully. It's simple to use in Text Edit - just experiment with the "Tighten" and "Loosen" commands until you get the desired effect.
Ligatures are closely elated to kerning, and essentially connect particular pairs of adjacent letters, such as fl or ff, into a special character combinations. Note that you need to use a font that supports ligatures in order for it to work.
Text Edit also can adjust baselines, which are the imaginary lines upon which letter characters "rest" in a document. The Superscript and Subscript commands adjust the "floor" for selected characters above or below the standard baseline.
Text Edit Copy Style/Paste Style from the Edit > Paste and match Style submenu commands allow you to copy and paste the font formatting characteristics of particular selection to other block of text.
Smart Quotes in Leopard Text Edit converts standard straight (or "stupid") quotation marks and apostrophes into the more a aesthetically pleasing "curly" type. You can still revert to straight quotes by holding down the Control key as you type the character, something that will be much appreciated by folks like me who convert a lot of text to HTML for Web posting.
One of the functions that distinguishes a word processor from a text editor is support for style sheets. A "style" in this context is a set of font and formatting attributes that can be applied to a selected block of text, a great convenience and time saver. Text Edit supports styles, although in a rudimentary way compared with, say, Microsoft Word. Unlike the latter, Text Edit has no provision for globally applying changes made to styles, nor does it support search and replace by style.
To create and archive a style, first configure a block of text with the font, color, text formatting and so forth that you desire, or select an already-formatted block of text, Then choose "Other" from the Styles popup menu in the Ruler, click "Add To Favorites," and name your style as well as clicking both option check boxes, and finish up by clicking "Add." The style will be saved.
Now, when you want to apply the style you saved, just select the text to be styled and choose the name the name for the desired style, and the style attributes you configured will be applied to your destination text.
If you decide that you don't need a particular style anymore, there is a "Remove From Favorites" command under "Other" in the Styles popup menu.
A quicker way to copy and paste a style in Text Edit is to use Option > Command > C and Option > Command > V to transfer formatting from one point in your document to another.
The Text Edit Ruler incorporates handy menus for Styles (including text styles), Spacing, List attributes (bulleted. numbered, etc.), and buttons for setting Justification.
Yet another word processor feature in Text Edit his support for tables. You can create a table in Text Edit by choosing the Text > Table submenu for the from the Format Menu, which will make the floating Table palette appear, in which you can configure your table characteristics with the desired number of rows and columns, with the placeholder table in your document automatically adjusting to accommodate as necessary. In the Table palette you can also set alignment specifications, thickness and color for the table cell borders, and a background color if desired.
You can adjust the size of rows and columns by dragging cell borders, and even merge two cells by using the Merge Cells command in the Table palette or use Split Cell to unmerge them. A cell may also be nested inside another by using the Nest Table command.
Leopard Text Edit can even save documents as HTML files, which allows the program to serve as no-frills Web authoring application. Tables are imported in the HTML conversion, and can function as a "poor man's" Web page design and configuration tool. JPEG or GIF image files can be added by simply dragging them into the document (TIFFs and PICTs are also supported in Text Edit, but they don't work on Web pages).
You can add hyperlinks by highlighting the word or phrase you want to make clickable, choosing Text + Link from the Format Menu, and enter the Web address you want to link to in the field provided.
There are also HTML options in Text Edit Preferences. Choose the Open and Save tab and specify what sort of HTML document characteristics you want configure when you choose Web Archive as a document save format using the File Menu Save As dialog box's File Format pull-down menu.
In Text Edit's Preferences you can also enter Author, Company, and Copyright information that will be embedded in rich text files.
Text Edit can embed entire other documents or programs in a Text Edit RTF document simply by dragging them in as you would an image file. When your primary document is saved, copies of the attached documents or applications will be included in the saved file that can be launched from within the document. Obviously, this can result in some very large Text Edit document files!
Another advanced word processing feature in Text Edit is the "Allow Hyphenization" command in the File Menu, which intelligently splits words and inserts hyphens as required to enhance right - side alignment of your blocks of text.
Leopard Text Edit supports inline, interactive spell-checking and grammar checking, the latter feature a new addition with OS X 10.5. Personally, I'm not a fan of grammar checkers, which tend to be insufferably pedantic and slow things down as well, but happily, you can activate the spell checker and grammar checker independently from the Edit Menu's Spelling and Grammar submenu, choosing either Check Spelling While Typing or Check Grammar While Typing. You can also of course check either in an already-composed document, and summon a spot spell check at any time by selecting and control clicking on a word.
A variant of the spot spellcheck function is Auto Complete, which works by pressing either F5 or Option > Escape after you have begun typing a word, causing a contextual list of possible word suggestions that appear; choose the appropriate suggestion from the list, press Tab, Return, or Spacebar to accept and then continue typing your document.
In summary, Text Edit in Leopard really is capable of serving as a real word processor for the rest of us, and goes a long way toward filling the gap left when Apple stopped bundling AppleWirks with consumer Macs.
Charles W. Moore
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