Languages

OS X Mavericks: Change the direction of text

Change the direction of text

OS X supports bidirectional text, so you can enter and edit text written from left to right (such as in English or Chinese) and from right to left (such as in Arabic or Hebrew) in the same paragraph. The first character you enter determines the default direction for a paragraph.

To set options for bidirectional text, such as enabling keyboard shortcuts or turning off the split cursor (used by default to more precisely show the boundary between left-to-right and right-to-left text), you must add input sources for a right-to-left language.

Use input sources to type in other languages

Change direction in paragraphs

In any paragraph:
With the pointer anywhere in the paragraph, choose a writing direction command from the Format menu. In some apps, you may need to choose Format > Alignment or Format > Format Text. Some apps may not offer the commands.
In a paragraph written right to left:
Control-click anywhere in the paragraph, choose Writing Direction (or Paragraph Direction) from the shortcut menu, then choose a command. For Default, the direction is based on the first character in the paragraph.

For example, if you start a paragraph with an English character, even if most of the paragraph is in Arabic, the sentences in the paragraph are displayed left to right as:

تم إصدار MacBook و MacBook Pro بشكل جديد

When you choose Right to Left from the shortcut menu, the sentences in the paragraph are displayed correctly as:

بشكل جديد MacBook Pro و MacBook تم إصدار

Change direction in selected text

In selected text written right to left, Control-click the selection, choose Writing Direction from the shortcut menu, then choose a command. For Default, the direction is set to that of the paragraph in which the text appears.

For example, if you’re using an English input source, but you begin a sentence with a Hebrew character, the text is incorrectly displayed as:

.is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet א

If you select the sentence and choose Left to Right from the shortcut menu, the sentence is correctly displayed as:

א is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Use bidirectional keyboard shortcuts

Make sure the option to enable shortcuts is selected in the Input Sources pane of Keyboard preferences.

Change selected text to left to right:
Press Command-Option-Control-Right Arrow.
Change selected text to right to left:
Press Command-Option-Control-Left Arrow.
Change selected text to the default direction:
Press Command-Option-Control-Down Arrow.
Change a paragraph to left to right:
Press Command-Control-Right Arrow.
Change a paragraph to right to left:
Press Command-Control-Left Arrow.
Change a paragraph to the default direction:
Press Command-Control-Down Arrow.
Type Arabic short date in the order it’s displayed:
Press Control-Slash to enter each slash.
Last Modified: May 8, 2014
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  • Last Modified: May 8, 2014
  • Article: PH14203
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