Text to get smarter in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, expected this summer, will deliver a variety of advanced text related features across all applications that use Core Text, according to people familiar with Apple's plans.



While Mac OS X already delivers integrated, system wide spelling and grammar checking, as well as "smart copy/paste," "smart quotes," and "smart links," each of which offers to enhance text as it is being typed, it's reported that Snow Leopard will significantly expand upon text entry with a series of expanded features along similar lines.



Automatic spell check



Among the new features are automatic spell correction, which, according to people familiar with the software, will optionally allow the system to fix obvious spelling errors while the user types, rather than only underlining misspelled words in red squiggles for the user to correct themselves. Auto correction is already a feature of the iPhone, where words that appear to be misspelled are popped up in a suggestion bubble that can be touched to dismiss if the correction isn't desired.



In Snow Leopard, automatic spell correction will simply replace words such as "teh" or "spelll" once the user hits the spacebar. Like the existing spell correction using red squiggle underlines, the feature comes directly from Microsoft Word, which similarly offers to automatically correct words while the user types. The new system wide improvement will simply extend the feature to all applications. Like the existing spell check and similar features, the automatic spell check can also be switched off by the user.



Substitutions



Another feature new in the Snow Leopard Core Text engine is Substitutions, something that will be familiar to users of the Palm OS as well as Word users. Microsoft refers to the feature in Word (below) as part of AutoCorrect called "replace text as you type."







In Snow Leopard, users will similarly be able to define a list of phrases or long words that will be automatically substituted when the user types a given character sequence. For example, "MOSX" could be designated to expand to "Apple's Mac OS X operating system," or whatever the user desires.



Those familiar with recent betas say a variety of substitutions are already defined in Snow Leopard, including items common to Word, such as typing "(c)" to obtain the copyright symbol. Each of these substitutions can be manually turned on and off individually, and the user can add as many new items as they wish.



Smart pasteboard: Services



Snow Leopard will also expand upon novel copy and paste features that originated at NeXT and from the Classic Mac OS. The first is Services, which was coined at NeXT. Services is an architecture that allows the operating system to copy text or other information, send it to another app for processing, and then optionally return it in a modified form.



Mac OS X already supports Services, but they're all hidden away in a big messy submenu under the Application menu. To use them, a user currently needs to make a selection, then navigate the cluttered menu looking for the desired action. While many applications install Services they can perform, few of them are very useful.



In Snow Leopard, it's reported that a smart selection of relevant Services will appear right in the contextual menu of a selection, making their utility far more obvious. The items will also be tagged with the applications' icon, such as a Mail icon representing the ability to "Send [the selected text] to Mail."



In addition, a new submenu in the contextual menu will reportedly offer to perform "Transformations," such as changing the selected text to all caps, or all small letters, or capitalized. This would appear to be a new type of Services offered by the system itself, essentially copying the selection to the pasteboard, performing an algorithm on it, and then returning it to the working document.







Smart selection: Data Detectors



A somewhat related feature, this time derived from work done at Apple's Advanced Technology Group in the 1990s, is Data Detectors. They enable the system to recognize bits of text as actionable items, such as addresses, phone numbers, or dates. Leopard reintroduced the technology in Mac OS X by enabling detected data in Mail to be used to create iCal events or Address Book contacts.



In Snow Leopard, sources say, Data Detectors can be turned on anywhere text appears within an application that uses the Core Text framework. That means a bit of text that appears to be a phone number would be highlighted with a subtle menu control that offers to, for example, add the number to either an existing or new contact in Address Book.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    zandroszandros Posts: 537member
    I just hope they provide simple means to undo the "correction" where it is undesirable.
  • Reply 2 of 52
    tomasftomasf Posts: 3member
    I doubt these new features have much to do with Core Text. CT is used for lower-level text operations such as typesetting and font operations. Editing features like these are more likely a feature of Cocoa's text system, independently of Core Text.



    Quote:

    Ooh, "Core Text". That sounds fancy. I'll use that for the article!



  • Reply 3 of 52
    I would love to see Data Detectors support in Safari (and also on the iPhone), as this is a very useful tool when it comes to adding an event to iCal directly from the web, or a contact to Address Book, or even an easy link to Google Map address online.



    However I am also wondering if the reason it was not done is potential security exploits. Like a badly formed address causing a crash or something. However if it is a service in Mail then I don't see why it can't be a system wide service in other apps.



    Besides, it is a user initiated procedure, so perhaps the security is not as bad as something automatic.
  • Reply 4 of 52
    irelandireland Posts: 17,729member
    Auto-correct would be handy I guess. I'd use it.
  • Reply 5 of 52
    noirdesirnoirdesir Posts: 1,027member
    This sounds that stuff that has been available from third parties for free (like Wordservices from http://www.devon-technologies.com/pr.../services.html ) will now be built-in.
  • Reply 6 of 52
    nace33nace33 Posts: 94member
    Personally, I would rather see Apple take the time to improve how NSTableView interacts with text. For example, a table really should automatically cache row height for wrapping text. I never have understood the point of wrapping text in a NSTableview within Interface Builder. Without programatically calculating the above problem, it is useless.



    If I am all wet on this, someone please point it out, I would love to see a solution to this problem.
  • Reply 7 of 52
    mactelmactel Posts: 1,275member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Zandros View Post


    I just hope they provide simple means to undo the "correction" where it is undesirable.



    Yeah, no doubt. What if you intentionally wanted to spell something wrong or didn't want the first letter of a sentence capitalized? How would you override that without having to go back and forth to the preferences?
  • Reply 8 of 52
    Quote:

    Yeah, no doubt. What if you intentionally wanted to spell something wrong or didn't want the first letter of a sentence capitalized? How would you override that without having to go back and forth to the preferences?



    Command-Z.
  • Reply 9 of 52
    nace33nace33 Posts: 94member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Zandros View Post


    I just hope they provide simple means to undo the "correction" where it is undesirable.



    I am guessing a command z will do the trick. Open pages and try to make a list. (a), (b), (c). When you hit spacebar after the ")" on the c, it will create the copyright symbol (assuming you haven't changed your preferences). To get the (c) back, just command z.
  • Reply 10 of 52
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    In Snow Leopard, users will similarly be able to define a list of phrases or long words that will be automatically substituted when the user types a given character sequence. For example, "MOSX" could be designated to expand to "Apple's Mac OS X operating system," or whatever the user desires.



    This is great news for Apple Insider staff. Now you can just write "Apple" and have "the Cupertino-based company" automatically inserted. hehe



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Zandros View Post


    I just hope they provide simple means to undo the "correction" where it is undesirable.



    I wish they had a Learn Spelling app that could be manually edited. The file is in ~/Library/Spelling/ and it opens up with a text editor, but there are so many hidden control characters that the average user will mess it up if they try to edit it.
  • Reply 11 of 52
    While Apple's getting some good ideas from Microsoft, here's hoping they copy Windows' system-wide use of the HOME and END keys (and other related keys): [substituting Command for Control]



    HOME - move to the beginning of the line

    END - move to the end of the line



    CMD+HOME - Top of document

    CMD+END - End of document



    CMD+LEFT/RIGHT ARROW - Move by word



    CMD+UP/DOWN ARROW - Move to beginning of Previous/Next Paragraph



    CMD+PAGE UP/PAGE DOWN - Move to beginning of Previous/Next Page



    (and for those with crippled/laptop keyboards:

    OPTION+HOME/END: Top/End of document

    OPTION+LEFT/RIGHT: Beginning/End of Line

    OPTION+UP/DOWN: Beginning of Previous/Next Page



    Windows has these very useful text navigation keyboard shortcuts at the system level, so no matter what program you're using, they act the same (unless the app has a specific reason to change them). It's really handy. (And surprising -- for the most part Apple's keyboard shortcuts and mnemonics have always been more consistent and common-sense than Windows. Except for these simple text navigation keys.)
  • Reply 12 of 52
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dak splunder View Post


    While Apple's getting some good ideas from Microsoft, here's hoping they copy Windows' system-wide use of the HOME and END keys (and other related keys): [substituting Command for Control]



    HOME - move to the beginning of the line

    END - move to the end of the line



    CMD+HOME - Top of document

    CMD+END - End of document



    CMD+LEFT/RIGHT ARROW - Move by word



    CMD+UP/DOWN ARROW - Move to beginning of Previous/Next Paragraph



    CMD+PAGE UP/PAGE DOWN - Move to beginning of Previous/Next Page



    (and for those with crippled/laptop keyboards:

    OPTION+HOME/END: Top/End of document

    OPTION+LEFT/RIGHT: Beginning/End of Line

    OPTION+UP/DOWN: Beginning of Previous/Next Page



    Windows has these very useful text navigation keyboard shortcuts at the system level, so no matter what program you're using, they act the same (unless the app has a specific reason to change them). It's really handy. (And surprising -- for the most part Apple's keyboard shortcuts and mnemonics have always been more consistent and common-sense than Windows. Except for these simple text navigation keys.)



    Sounds good, but Apple has gone the other way - they don't want to give you a full size keyboard. The mini keyboard is now the default on iMacs - no home or end keys, no right delete key, no page up or down, and inconvenient smaller arrow keys (and no number pad).



    You can only get the full-size keyboard with your new iMac online (BTO) from Apple - even the Apple Stores can't sell you an iMac with full-size keyboard! So I doubt Apple is going to put much effort into adding functions for those keys.
  • Reply 13 of 52
    Grammar check do not work for me none.
  • Reply 14 of 52
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    This is great news for Apple Insider staff. Now you can just write "Apple" and have "the Cupertino-based company" automatically inserted. hehe



    LMAO!
  • Reply 15 of 52
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elroth View Post


    Sounds good, but Apple has gone the other way - they don't want to give you a full size keyboard. The mini keyboard is now the default on iMacs - no home or end keys, no right delete key, no page up or down, and inconvenient smaller arrow keys (and no number pad).



    You can only get the full-size keyboard with your new iMac online (BTO) from Apple - even the Apple Stores can't sell you an iMac with full-size keyboard! So I doubt Apple is going to put much effort into adding functions for those keys.



    Maybe they're trying to fit more computers on the counters so more customers can squeeze in.
  • Reply 16 of 52
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dak splunder View Post


    While Apple's getting some good ideas from Microsoft, here's hoping they copy Windows' system-wide use of the HOME and END keys (and other related keys):



    [snip]



    Windows has these very useful text navigation keyboard shortcuts at the system level, so no matter what program you're using, they act the same (unless the app has a specific reason to change them). It's really handy. (And surprising -- for the most part Apple's keyboard shortcuts and mnemonics have always been more consistent and common-sense than Windows. Except for these simple text navigation keys.)



    Actually, OS X apps already have this functionality, but the commands are as follows:



    Command+Left Arrow: Move to the beginning of the line

    Command+Right Arrow: Move to the end of the line



    Home: Top of document

    End: End of document



    Option+Left Arrow/Option+Right Arrow: Move by word



    Option+Up Arrow: Move to beginning of paragraph

    Option+Down Arrow: Move to end of paragraph



    Note that Microsoft's OS X apps, of course, do their own thing and ignore these rules--making the keyboard shortcuts more like Windows (Home/End goes to the beginning/end of line, etc.)--making it frustrating when every other app I use uses the "correct" Mac conventions.
  • Reply 17 of 52
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    This is great news for Apple Insider staff. Now you can just write "Apple" and have "the Cupertino-based company" automatically inserted. hehe



    Actually it should be type "Apple" and get "the Cupertino-based ______-maker" automatically inserted.



    If the article is about iPods, they use "Cupertino-based iPod-maker," and so on.
  • Reply 18 of 52
    noirdesirnoirdesir Posts: 1,027member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elroth View Post


    no home or end keys, no right delete key, no page up or down, and inconvenient smaller arrow keys



    I can just about touch type the arrow keys (incl. combinations with fn to give you home, ie, beginning of the document, etc.) on the Mac notebook keyboards (and presumably also on the compact external ones, I have not tried it). Try that with a standard keyboard, ie, using home, delete and the arrow keys without looking at the keyboard, much harder to do.
  • Reply 19 of 52
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by uniqueness-template View Post


    Home: Top of document

    End: End of document



    Also note that on the compact (no numpad) keyboards--and Apple laptops--you just hold Fn to get the "missing" keys (which used to be better marked):



    Fn-LEFT = Home

    Fn-RIGHT = End

    Fn-UP = PgUp

    Fn-DOWN = PdDown

    Fn-Delete = Right-Delete

    Fn-Return = Numpad Enter



    (I've always thought Fn-number-key should give you the Numpad number instead, but I don't think it does. A few apps use the numpad for shortcuts, which are then missing on laptops.)
  • Reply 20 of 52
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elroth View Post


    Sounds good, but Apple has gone the other way - they don't want to give you a full size keyboard.



    I love Apple hardware, but I have to say their input devices are junk. If you are going to do any real work on a Mac, the first thing you need to do is get a good two-button scroll mouse and full-size (preferably ergonomic) keyboard.
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