Change the Double Quote & Single Quote Style in Mac OS X

Apr 10, 2014 - 10 Comments

Quotes button on a Mac keyboard The Mac has long used the straight quote style for double and single quotes, looking like ” and ‘ respectively. It’s been that way for as long as I remember, but if you’d like to change the quote style to something else, perhaps a bit more fanciful, you can do so through a settings adjustment.

Swapping out the quote style offers a a total of eight different varieties for each single quotes and double quotes, and you don’t need to have them match though it’s probably recommended to do so. Whether you like curlies, fancies, or straights you should be a happy camper with the choices available.

How to Disable Smart Quotes & Curly Quotes on a Mac

Here’s what you’ll want to do to adjust the style of quotes in OS X:

  1. Go to  Apple menu and open System Preferences
  2. Choose “Keyboard” and select the “Text” tab
  3. Pull down the submenus alongside “Double Quotes” and “Single Quotes” and select your preferred quote style for each
  4. Exit System Preferences when finished

Change the quote style in Mac OS X

The change is immediate and you don’t need to close System Preferences for the adjustment to take effect, so if you want to test this out it’s a good idea to have TextEdit open. It won’t automatically replace previously entered quotes of any style, so just go ahead and type the double and single quote again to see the difference.

Some OS X Mavericks users should find this tip particularly worthwhile, since a fair amount of upgrade users have discovered that regular quotes and curly quotes were mysteriously and randomly replaced by an odd bracket variety »»»» and «««« (I’m not sure of the technical name for that quote style, feel free to chime in the comments if you happen to know what these are called).

Double quotes automatically replacing themselves in Mac OS X Mavericks

If you ran into the quote replacement issue yourself and thought it was text substitution or something else, it’s not, it’s just the seemingly random quote style assigned to some Macs during the upgrade process. There have been some claims that this only occurred on Macs that were upgraded after Emoji characters had been used in OS X, but that hasn’t been confirmed and seems fairly unlikely.

Anyway, enjoy your new quote style, whether you prefer curly or straight quotes or any of the other styles.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

10 Comments

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  1. Peter says:

    I was hoping this would be a way to stop the annoying smart quotes thing… but I found it when changing to the straight quotes! It’s right above the options, if anyone else is curious about that.

    Great tips as always.

  2. Barry says:

    The name for « is guillemet (not to be confused with guillemot, which is a sea-going fish-eating bird).

  3. Those funny quotes are for the French. Each country has it’s own style. Germany for example uses the quotes that start at the base of the character and in the UK they use single quotes and the double quotes for a quote within a quote.

    Straight quotes are not normal. They were what was found on a typewriter in order to have as few keys as possible. In fact many typewriters requires you to type a single quote and then backspace and type a period in order to get the exclamation point.

    The reason that they exist on a computer was that for programming, there was no need to have curly quotes.

    The Mac always had keyboard shortcuts to put in the correct quotes and today all word processors such as Word have the default to correct to the correct quotes. However you have to be a little careful when typing “in the ’80s” to make sure to use an apostrophe and not an open single quote to designate missing characters (ie the 19).

  4. boyan says:

    The french use « guillemet » exactly the same way the english use “quote”.

  5. tingo says:

    A bit on the side, but still related to quotes, guillemets, virgolette and even parentheses and brackets: one of the most useful CPs I know is AutoPairs, at

    http://www.jwwalker.com/pages/autopairs.html

  6. benji888 says:

    your big red box blocks the view of the checkbox for smart quotes

    …smart quotes is going to use the type of quotes us professionals used to use pre-desktop publishing, pre-internet. Otherwise, you’ll get typewriter style quotes, unless you know which key combinations to bring up the correct quotes. (Except where there are font limitations, which can still happen with some older, common internet compatible fonts).

    typewriter style: “a” ‘a’
    print style (smart quotes): “a” ‘a’

    with smart quotes on, it changes while you’re typing, so, not always accurate, and may not work with all your apps (including web browsers, or places on the internet, such as this), but, you can get the proper quotes with key combinations…

    see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prepress

    • benji888 says:

      …hmmm, it would appear that all my quotes here were changed with smart quotes after I hit “Submit Comment”, so please refer to the wikipedia reference above to see the difference.

  7. Dual says:

    I would guess this is a Mavericks-only thing? There is no Text tab in the 10.8.5 prefs.

  8. Tim says:

    It is ” language & Text ” for Mountain Lion. Your article only pertains to Mavericks

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