Have you NEVER NOT wanted to make curly quotes in OSX? Here's how…and more.

Helvetica Black and Arial Black quotes are oh so curly.

For those of you who care about whether or not your quotes are quotation marks, apostrophes or primes, here’s are simple way to write single-curly and double-curly quotes in Mac OSX…and unlock the secret to, um, some mysteries.

Method 1 – One sweet, simple, serene keyboard stroke for success

  • Single right curly quote: Option – ]
  • Single left curly quote: Shift – Option – ]
  • Double right curly quote: Option – [
  • Double left curly quote: Shift – Option – [

Method 2 – The long and painful way to curly quote heaven

This method involves using the International Character Palette viewer to select your character.

  1. Open System Preferences (navigate to the Apple Menu at the top-left of your screen and select “System Preferences…”)
  2. Click on “International”, represented by a blue United Nations flag icon
  3. Select the Input Menu tab
  4. If unchecked, check the boxes “Character Palette” and “Keyboard Viewer” in the selection window
  5. Check the box on the bottom of that window that says “Show input menu in menu bar”
    You will now see the flag representing your language in your menu bar on the top-right of your screen
  6. Click on the new language flag in your menu bar and select “Show Character Palette”
  7. In the left column, highlight the “Punctuation” option
  8. You will now see a list of possible punctuation, probably including curly quotes
  9. In your working document, click where you would like to insert the punctuation mark
  10. Double-click on the desired punctuation mark in the Characters palette
    The character should be inserted into your document

Additional Power User options

  • Do you want to access a special character often? Add it to your Favorites. Click once on the character in the Characters window to highlight, then click on the gear in the bottom‐left corner of that window. The top item is “Add to Favorites” — click on it. Now, your character will be available in the Favorites tab of the Characters window (near the top-right).
  • Know all your easily available characters by having the Keyboard Viewer active. In Step 4 above, you activated the Keyboard Viewer. Now, go to the Language flag menu and select Show Keyboard Viewer, and you will see a mini-keyboard on your screen. Hold down the Option and Shift keys to discover what characters you can make any time, if your font supports them.
  • Live down your typographic shame and impress your graphic designer friends by using a real hyphen symbol, rather than the “minus sign.” On the bottom of the Characters palette, do a search for “Hyphen” to find the different kinds of hyphens available to you. You will see that “Hyphen-Minus” as Apple calls it is much wider than “Hyphen.” If you’re obsessed with type, you could use that instead of your oft-used minus sign. 

Didn’t work? Here are a few possible reasons why:

  • If you don’t see your character in Punctuation list, you may be limited by the Roman character set. At the top of the Characters window, you will see a drop-down menu prefaced by “View:”. Make sure to select “All Characters” from the menu, then navigate to “Punctuation” and highlight “Punctuation.”  This will be a complete list of all available punctuation, including non-Roman glyphs.

A note to the masses

If you’re reading this post and realizing that all my hyphens are minus signs, just rest assured that I recognize my own imperfection and ask your humble typographic forgiveness.

Do you have any other OSX typography tricks? Leave’em below.

When you’re typing quotes, do it on a MacBook!

I’ve been yearning for a MacBook, since I’ve been lugging my wife’s old Toshiba Satellite around. My wife needs a new computer, I want one for client meetings…so I’ve decided to keep my eye out for an used Apple laptop.

Author: Zack Katz

Zack Katz is the President of Katz Web Services and the developer of WordPress plugins with over 700,000 downloads. He lives in Southwest Colorado with his wife and two cats.

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