Find special characters in Pages

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OS X Hints reader dcottle wanted to find and replace special characters—like Tabs and hard Returns—in Pages. The program has a drop-down menu from which you can select such characters, but dcottle wanted a way to do it all from the keyboard. Microsoft Word lets you do that: ^t will find Tabs and^p Returns. But those shortcuts don’t work in Pages and other programs. You can’t just type the Tab or Return into the find or replace fields, either, because doing so triggers special actions (such as advancing to the next field or starting the search).

Through trial and error, dcottle found that the Option key was the secret: typing Option-Tab and Option-Return in the search or replace fields enters those special characters. This same trick works in some other programs, too: After some quick testing, we found that it also works in Stickies, BBEdit, TextEdit, FileMaker Pro, Coda, and others—many of which don’t even offer a drop-down menu for selecting special characters.

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Warns you if you are going to overwrite a shared file that someone already saved changes to
    • Mail merge works with Numbers spreadsheets
    • Excellent Numbers chart integration
    • Handy Full Screen and Outline modes
    • Seamless integration with popular third-party academic programs


    • No global update for embedded charts
    • Can’t preview mail merge documents beforehand
    • Some mail merge operations were not intuitive
    • No “shared file” warning if you open a document someone else is editing
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