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This is the most important Mavericks keyboard shortcut you'll discover all day


Mavericks' new Control-Command-Space bar shortcut came up once again during conversation in the TUAW chat room this morning. Once again, I was surprised that this cool little trick isn't universally known.

As a public service announcement, we'd like to continue to spread the word about this delightful shortcut. Get yourself over to any text entry field on your Mavericks Mac and give it a try by pressing Control and Command together and then tap the space bar. The resulting pop-up provides easy access to smilies and emoji that you can drag to your favorite app.

To Emoji and Beyond

There are a few really cool (and not immediately obvious) additional uses for this that you might not be familiar with, even if you're already using the pop-up. See the up-arrow at the top-center of the pop-up?

Pull the dialog away from the text entry and the entire window switches to a free-floating Character entry palette, like you see below. This allows you to move the palette out of the way, but keep it on-hand for repeated use. Very handy, especially when sending an iMessage to your BFF.

Searching for Characters

Now see the button at the top-right of the palette? A single click converts the palette into the more classic form of the Characters window you might be familiar with from OS X Mountain Lion and earlier.

Use the search field to find exactly the kind of pictograph you're looking for. Keep your search phrase as general as possible. A search for "triangle," for example, returns a lot more possibilities than "left triangle."

Once you've found the item you wish to insert, just drag it from the center pane within the Characters window to whatever text you're editing.

Adding Favorites

You can click the Add to Favorites button for any pictograph to add often-used symbols to the main display of your Characters palette. Once added, these items appear beneath the most recently used items list.

To add or remove items from your favorites list, you need to be using the old-style Characters window, which you access from that top-right button. Use the Add to Favorites and Remove from Favorites buttons when you view individual items. After defining at least one favorite, a complete list of favorites appears at the top-left of the Characters window, just below the Recently Used list.

All favorites edits are reflected in the pop-up, but there's one more step you need. To return to the pop-up, don't forget to revert from the classic view by once again clicking the button at the top-right of the Characters window.

Unicode Information for Programmers

But wait! There's more! If you right-click (or control-click) the character, you can copy the character info to the system pasteboard. Then just paste it into TextEdit or your notepad.

Unicode: U+1F601 (U+D83D U+DE01), UTF-8: F0 9F 98 81

From there, you gain easy access to the exact Unicode information for the symbol, which (if you're a developer, who needs this kind of thing) is an absolute gift for programming.

As promised, here's that most important tip for today: Search the Character Editor for "PILE OF POO" and favorite it for easy access. You'll be glad you did.

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