Home > Mac administration, Mac OS X > Disabling smart quotes in Mavericks

Disabling smart quotes in Mavericks

As I’ve mentioned previously, Apple does at least one thing with each new OS release that a) annoys me and b) makes me wonder about the thought process that went behind it.

In Mavericks, it’s smart quotes. These are quotes that are curved in shape and face in different directions, depending on if they’re opening quotes or closing quotes.

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 4.49.23 PM

Having smart quotes is inconvenient for me because I can’t always tell when they’re in use until I copy and paste. If I’m copying and pasting content into a script, smart quotation marks aren’t recognized as legal quote marks, which means I have to find and replace them.

Fortunately, it’s possible to turn smart quotes off. See below the jump for details.

There’s two places I know of where you may need to turn off smart quotes:

A. System Preferences

B. TextEdit

To disable smart quotes via System Preferences:

1. Open System Preferences

2. Select the Keyboard preference pane

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 4.49.37 PM

3. Select the Text tab in the Keyboard preferences

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 4.49.42 PM

4. Uncheck Use smart quotes and dashes

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 4.49.49 PM

To disable smart quotes in TextEdit

1. Launch TextEdit

2. In the TextEdit menu, select Preferences…

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 4.52.03 PM

3. Uncheck Smart quotes and Smart dashes


Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 4.51.40 PM

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 5.07.19 PM

4. Close the the Preferences window

5. In TextEdit’s Edit menu, select Substitutions

6. Under Substitutions, uncheck Smart Quotes and Smart Dashes

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 4.57.56 PM

Once smart quotes have been disabled, quotes should return to being non-curly quotes marks.

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 4.55.32 PM

Other applications may have smart quote settings, so you may need to check in the application settings.

  1. Max
    February 2, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Hi Rich, do you know where this setting is stored?

    • February 2, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Max,

      The System Preferences’ settings are stored in ~/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist. You can turn them on and off with defaults:

      Disable smart quotes:

      defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticQuoteSubstitutionEnabled -bool false
      

      Disable smart dashes:

      defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticDashSubstitutionEnabled -bool false
      

      For TextEdit, these settings are stored in ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.TextEdit:

      Disable smart quotes:

      defaults write com.apple.TextEdit SmartQuotes -bool false
      

      Disable smart dashes:

      defaults write com.apple.TextEdit SmartDashes -bool false
      
  2. February 12, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    That ‘Subsitutions’ menu, along with a few others, should appear when you right click on text in any application that uses the Cocoa text engine.

  3. Marc
    May 30, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    This is a horrible “feature”! Thank so much you for this post!

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