OSX already has shortcut keys for symbols: you access them usually with the alt (or option) key.
– (en dash) is opt-
— (em dash) is shift-opt-
OSX provides an easy way of accessing symbols (and of learning the shortcuts):
Go to System Preferences > Keyboard and make sure Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in menu bar is checked.
Go to System Preferences > Language & Text > Input Sources and make sure Keyboard and Character Viewer is checked. You should now have an icon in your menu bar: mine is a Union Jack indicating I use the British Keyboard; yours may vary of course.
Click on the icon and choose Show Character Viewer. You will get an interactive keyboard: type any letter and you’ll see the relevant key lights up.
The clever bit is that if you hold down the option key (in fact any of the special keys), the keyboard will change to show you the symbols that are available. E.g. Hold shift and option and you’ll see the minus key change to —.
Keys that are highlighted in yellow allow you to use accents. For example, to get ê, type option-i. This will put a ^ in your text, highlighted in yellow: type an ‘e’ and you’ve got your ê.
Many of the available symbols are fairly intuitive (opt-0 for º, for example), but you can always keep the keyboard viewer open as you’re learning them.
Opt-shift-minus gives you an em-dash; Opt-minus gives you an en-dash; minus on its own gives you a hyphen. If you’ve just moved to Mac or out of Office, the size of hyphen vs en-dash may be different to what you’re used to seeing.
Sorry, yes I meant the Keyboard Viewer. I went through the steps as I typed them out for you — goodness knows why I chose the wrong option as I had the right viewer on my screen as I did so…
I don’t think Apple are doing your thinking for you, though — (em-dash) as far as I can see, they’re providing a much simpler facility for adding symbols quickly than I’ve seen in other OSs.
And as Mark says, opt-minus really does give you an en-dash, although sometimes it’s not easy to tell the difference from a hyphen in some fonts or in some sizes. Check by typing opt-minus, then highlight the character and bring up the character viewer if you need reassurance on this.
With MS Office and the PC in general I have more control. However, I’m living in Korea now and Apple is the only real choice here, besides Samsung and LG (which have lousy proprietary software), so I’m stuck with Apple’s fascism.
Windows 7 is much superior but I need a notebook when I’m on the go and will have to deal.
Again, agressive language doesn’t buy you any friends here. Yes, you may prefer Windows in whatever version, as that is what you know your way around easily. I hate it when I have to use Windows of any flavour as I find it frustrating as I can’t control it the way I want; so to me Windows is inferior. But that’s just my personal take. It’s nothing to do with the nature of the operating systems per se.
If OS-X is such a pain for you, run Windows 7 under Bootcamp, Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion, and get Scrivener for Windows. But you’ll be missing out on many of the features available in the Mac version that haven’t yet been implemented in the Windows version.
Yes, I agree on Boot Camp. But you can create your own shortcut keys on the Mac, you do it through the system preferences, the “Keyboard shortcuts” pane, and if you choose “Application Shortcuts” at the bottom of the list, you can set shortcuts specifically for any application that will work only in that app if you want. There are limits on what can have a shortcut, though … it has to be something that has an identifiable name in a menu.
As for characters, like en-dash and em-dash, accented characters and so on, they are all available through the keyboard anyway, and for the less common ones, through the “International pane” of the System Preferences you can get a keyboard menu on the left of your menu bar which can include acess to the “Character Viewer”, which allows you to access any of the glyphs available under UTF-8, including any variations in the different font sets on your machine.
I believe he meant the Keyboard Viewer, rather than the Character Viewer. You can open that from the menu bar icon menu just like the Character Viewer, once you’ve followed the previous steps to turn the two viewers on.