Selecting non-contiguous text is a really cool feature that you might not miss if you don’t know about it. “Contiguous” means that the texts are touching each other, and non-contiguous copying is a way of copying multiple paragraphs / sentences that are not right next to each other. There are only a few Mac word processors that allow you to continuously select sections of text not directly next to one another, but there are a few caveats in a couple of these applications concerning copying non-contiguous text.
Benefits of Non-Contiguous Text Selection
After you select your non-adjacent text, there are multiple things you can do to it:
- Apply formatting. For example, select all the category headers and make them bold.
- Cut or delete separate sections of text at the same time.
- Cut or Copy that text to a new document. For example, you could randomly select multiple words and paste them into a new document as a single flowing sentence.
To select non-contiguous text:
- Click-and-drag to select one continuous selection of text.
- With the Command key held down, click-and-drag to select another text that can be far away from the original text you selected.
- Continue selecting more text with the command key held down until you have selected all your desired text.
Mac Word Processors with Non-Contiguous Text Selection
Nisus Writer has had non-contiguous text selection for a long time. Nisus also allows you to enact macros on your non-contiguous text selections. Let’s say you want to use certain Apple Services that can be applied to contiguous selections. You can use a Nisus macro to run through the items of a non-contiguous selection consecutively like this:
$doc = Document.active $sels = $doc.textSelections foreach $sel in reversed $sels $doc.setSelection $sel Document.setActive $doc Menu ':Nisus Writer Pro:Services:New TextEdit Window Containing Selection' end
Microsoft Word for Mac allows you to select non-adjacent text. Word inserts a carriage return between each text parcel selected, and the paste order is temporal, not by where the text exists in the document. Therefore, if you start from the bottom of your document and work your way up and paste your non-contiguous selection into another document, the stuff you selected first (at the bottom of the document) will be pasted first.
Tex-Edit Plus is a hybrid text editor / word processor that aims to meld the best features of both. Many Applescripts have been coded specifically for Tex-Edit Plus, so you can do lots of non-standard stuff to your text just by downloading an Applescript. Like Nisus Writer, Tex-Edit Plus has a few power-user features including non-contiguous text selection.
Apple’s Pages seems like it offers non-contiguous text selection. But you can only apply formatting to non-adjacent selected text. You can’t in fact copy-paste the text.