Text Editing

Word Movement

Moving between words is done by holding option () and using arrow keys. Selecting can be done by additionally holding down shift (), for example to select to the end of the word to the right of the caret, press ⌥⇧→.

Deleting to beginning or end of words can be done by holding down option when pressing the backward or forward delete keys. On laptop keyboards the forward delete key () is available by holding down the fn modifier key when pressing backward delete ().

By default TextMate classifies a character as belonging to one of 3 groups: word, space, or other. Any sequence of characters belonging to the same group is considered a single unit for the purpose of word movement and other actions that break up the text, like word selection or buffer completion.

It is possible to change the group that text belongs to by adding a characterClass scope setting. For example the Source bundle sets characterClass = 'escape'; using a scope selector of constant.character.escape. This means that in a code snippet like the following:

str = "foo‸\nbar"

Using ⌥→ will move caret so we end up before bar:

str = "foo\n‸bar"

This is because \n is matched by the language grammar and scoped as constant.character.escape.*, which the Source bundle tells TextMate has character class escape, so for the purpose of word movement, it is separate from bar, which has character class word.

Sub-word Movement

If you are using variables with camelCase or snake_case then you can hold control () to move between sub-words, for example (using ⌃→):

‸someVariable        → some‸Variable
‸some_other_variable → some‸_other_variable

As with word movement, you can also use the control () modifier with shift () to make selections or delete to sub-word boundaries with control () and the forward and backward delete keys.

Column Movement

Using arrow up/down when holding option () will move the caret to the first/last row in the current column. As usual, also hold down shift () to get it selected.

For example pressing ⌥⇧↓ in this example:

1:  foo  = ‸quux
2:  bar  =  corge
3:  baz  =  grault
4:  qux  =  garply

Will select from quux and down to just before garply like this:

1:  foo  = [xxxxxxx
2:  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
3:  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
4:  xxxxxxx]garply

This in itself may not seem like a useful feature, but once we have this (stream) selection, we can use Edit → Select → Toggle Column Selection () to turn it into a (zero-width) columnar selection. The option key () for this menu item means to press and quickly release the option key, don’t hold it down or press any other key.

The result becomes:

1:  foo  = ‸quux
2:  bar  = ‸corge
3:  baz  = ‸grault
4:  qux  = ‸garply

That is, we now have multiple carets and can make batch changes across all the lines.

Paired Character Movement

Paired characters are things like braces, brackets, and parenthesis. These can be defined using the highlightPairs scope setting. The value is an array of arrays, each sub-array containing the first and last “character” in a pair. The character can be a string or a regular expression, for the latter, it should be surrounded by slashes.

For example the HTML bundle has this setting:

highlightPairs = (
  ( '(', ')' ),
  ( '{', '}' ),
  ( '[', ']' ),
  ( '“', '”' ),
  ( '/<(?!area|base|basefont|br|col|frame|hr|img|input|isindex|link|meta|param)\w+[^>]*(?<!/)>/',

The last pair defined is done with regular expressions that match open and close tags.

The setting is both used to pairs when moving caret over one of the two items in a pair, but is also used to allow moving and selecting to pair boundaries.

Use control () with arrow up/down to move to the begin/end of the current pair. You can hold down shift () to make a selection. For example with the following code example:

someFunction(foo, bar‸, baz.qux())

Press ⌃⇧↓ to select the last argument, resulting in:

someFunction(foo, bar[xxxxxxxxxx])

It is also possible to use Edit → Select → Enclosing Typing Pairs (⇧⌘B) to extend the selection to include the immediate outer pairs defined, using that action would result in:


Since this is an unanchored selection we can use ⌥⇧← to further extend the selection so that it includes someFunction.

When the paired characters are on their own lines, as is often the case with braces, the selection will be extended to full lines, for example in this example:

1:  int main (int argc, char const* argv[])
2:  {
3:     for(size_t i = 0; i < argc; ++i)
4:     {
5:        ‸printf("%zu: %s\n", i, argv[i]);
6:     }
7:     return 0;
8:  }

Using Edit → Select → Enclosing Typing Pairs (⇧⌘B) will fully select line 4, 5, and 6.

Two convenient actions worth mentioning are Bundles → Source → Wrap in Braces ({) and Bundles → Source → Unwrap Braces (}). Both are only active when there is a selection, and they will wrap/unwrap and increase/decrease indent accordingly.

Slightly related is Bundles → Source → Strip Wrap Characters (]). This action is also active only when there is a selection, and will strip the outer “wrap characters” of the selection, those could be parenthesis, quotes, or similar.


You can use Navigate → Toggle Bookmark (⌘F2) to add a remove a bookmark for the current line. Getting back to this bookmark is either done by cycling through bookmarks, using Navigate → Next Bookmark (F2) and Navigate → Previous Bookmark (⇧F2), or by finding the bookmark in the Navigate → Go to Bookmark submenu. This menu also allows you to clear all bookmarks for the current document.

You may find that using function keys require the use of the fn modifier key. This can be changed at the Keyboard page in System Preferences.

Symbol Chooser

For languages that support it, the rightmost pop-up in the status bar shows the current “symbol” (often the function prototype or heading above the caret). This pop-up can be used to move the caret to another section of your document.

For keyboard navigation there is also Navigation → Go to Symbol… (⇧⌘T) which opens a panel which supports filtering similar to the file chooser.

The panel can be left open and will update as the document is edited. If you single-click an item in the list, the caret will move to the symbol clicked. Double-clicking will do the same but closes the panel.

The symbol list is constructed by including all the parts of the document for which the scope has a matching showInSymbolList scope setting set to 1 (true).

In addition to showInSymbolList there is a symbolTransformation setting which is one or more regular expression substitutions which are performed on the text extracted. The value of this setting should be: s/«regexp»/«format»/«options» optionally followed by ; and more substitutions. It is also possible to put comments in the value, these start with # and end at the next newline.

So if we want to show Markdown headings in the list, which are lines that start with one or more # marks, then we first make sure our language grammar assigns a name to these, a simple rule could be the following:

{  name = 'markup.heading.markdown';
   match = '^#{1,6}\s*(.*)$';

Now we can target headings using a scope selector of markup.heading.markdown. We create a scope setting using this scope selector and make it:

{  showInSymbolList = 1; }

This however will include the leading pound characters (#) in the list. We can either assign a name (via the language grammar) to the actual title, or we can perform a substitution to get rid of the pound characters. The latter has the advantage that we can change these to indent. This is done by changing the scope setting to:

{  showInSymbolList = 1;
   symbolTransformation = 's/^#(#*)\s*(.*)/${1/#/\x{2003}/g}$2/';

The transformation is a nested transformation. The outer match will capture all but the first pound character into capture register one and then the actual heading into capture register two. In the format string we change pound characters in capture register one into em-spaces (\x{2003}) and append the heading as-is.

Freehanded Movement

It can sometimes be useful to move caret without being restricted by the line endings, for example if we wish to add aligned values to the following source:

buttonMap = {

Then we would have to add four spaces of padding after kHome: before typing 1, then arrow down, which would require adding another four spaces of padding, etc.

Alternatively we can hold down option () while clicking (with the mouse) where we wish to type the first text. This gives us a caret that can be moved freely. That way, we can type 1 followed by arrow down and left, and then type 2, etc. until we get:

buttonMap = {
   kHome:    1
   kBack:    2
   kForward: 3
   kReload:  4

Another way to activate this mode is by placing the caret at the end of a line and then use Text → Move Selection → Right (⌃⌘→).

To leave the mode, either use the mouse and click somewhere in the text (without holding down option) or use Text → Move Selection → Left (⌃⌘←) (without a selection).


Selecting text is done by holding down shift () while using the arrow keys, optionally holding down some of the modifier keys described in the previous section.

A selection created this way is anchored to where the caret is, the first time movement is done while holding down shift. Any further movement with shift down will extend or shrink the selection, by moving the non-anchor end point of the selection.

Unanchored Selection

Any action that cause a selection and doesn’t involve the arrow keys, is unanchored, which means that the initial movement done (while holding down shift) after creating the selection, will extend the selection, and set the anchor as the opposite end point to the one being moved.

For example given the following line:

foo(baz, bar(qux, ‸quux, corge))

If we wish to select bar(qux, quux, corge) we can do so by first choosing Edit → Select → Enclosing Typing Pairs (⇧⌘B). This will select (qux, quux, corge). After this, we can extend the selection to either side, by using the appropriate arrow key. Here we wish to extend it to the left, so we use ⌥⇧← to extend it by one word. Had we instead used ⇧→ then we would have extended the selection to the right, by adding the last ) to the selection.

Unit Selections

  • Select → Word, Scope, Enclosing Typing Pairs

Column Selection

  • Edit → Select → Toggle Column Selection ().

Wrapping Selection

  • Paired characters, HTML tags
  • Wrapping/unwrapping braces
  • Stripping wrap characters (quotes, etc.)

Indenting Selection

  • Increase, decrease, estimate

Moving Selection

Multiple Carets

  • How to activate via: mouse, column selection + movement, column selection + unit selection, search actions, find next and extend selection
  • Behavior with multiple carets: find next, copy/paste, etc.
  • How to get back to a single caret

Cut, Copy, and Paste

  • Paste previous, next, and show clipboard history
  • Paste with/without re-indent
  • Configuring how to re-indent
  • Duplicating text (⌃⇧D)
  • Kill and yank

Buffer Completion

The current word adfix is taken into consideration when hitting escape.

For example in this case:

enum mark_t { kErrorMarkType, kWarningMarkType };
mark_t m = ‸MarkType;

The resulting line will become:

mark_t m = kWarning‸MarkType;

See also: Completion Commands, character classes


  • Record, replay, and save

Auto-indenting Text

  • How to configure
  • How to disable
  • Smart tab behavior

Transposing Text

  • ⌃T: Swap characters / lines
  • ⌃T: Reverse characters in line / lines in selection
  • ⌃T: Cycle (swap) selected words

Spell Checking

  • Selecting spelling suggestions (⌥F2)
  • Disabling spell checking for scopes
  • Setting default language for folders/files
  • Correcting misspelled words (⌥F2 or right-click)

Shell Command Filters

  • Filtering through shell command (⌘|)

Dropping Items

  • Meaning of dragging (to document) with modifiers
  • See Also: Drag Commands