If you’re a long-time Mac user or a new one, it’s possible you’re only aware of the Delete key, which is technically a “backward delete”: it deletes characters to the left of the current cursor in English and other languages that read left-to-right. It has its own symbol: ⌫. On various vintages of keyboards, you might find the word Delete, a leftward-pointing arrow ←, or both the arrow and the label. (For Mac users, it’s nearly always Delete; Backspace is more of a…Windows word.)
On extended keyboards, you may also find a “forward delete” option. It may also be labeled Delete or Del, and it has the forward delete symbol on it: ⌦. Press this and characters to the right of the insertion point are deleted.
On more compact keyboards, such as that on a laptop, macOS lets you create a forward-delete action by holding down the Function key (fn) and then pressing the Delete key normally used for backward delete.
A few other nifty deletion helpers (some of these keyboard commands may not work in the software you are using):
Add the Option key to forward or backward delete (including Fn-Option-⌫), and macOS deletes a word at a time, or when you’re not dealing precisely with words, anything up to the next white space in the direction you’re deleting.
Control-H and Control-D also substitute for backward and forwards delete, owing a debt to macOS’s Unix underpinnings.
Control-K, another Unix relative, deletes everything from the insertion point ot the end of the line. Some software interprets that as the end of the paragraph (until the next point in the document or email at which you pressed the Return key). Other software is more literal, and deletes only the characters on the same visible line.
Sadly, macOS omits Control-U, which in Terminal shells deletes everything from the insertion point to the start of the line, a useful complement to Control-K.
This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Mike.
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