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Depending on your system, the word separator characters change the way you can select/delete a word (e.g. by double clicking on it or using a key combination with your keyboard).

The fact is that I hate the default behavior of OSX.

For example:

Take the following line of code:


If my cursor is at the end of the line and I press alt+backspace, it will delete everything and not just innerAttr.

I only found some apps (like iTerm) which let you change the word selection separator characters.

Is there a way to change it for the whole system?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Mar 28 '10 at 13:19

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No there is not. Get a better text editor. –  Hasaan Chop Mar 28 '10 at 13:37

3 Answers 3

The answer by user ` is correct for pre-osx-10.9 (I think). However, in OS X 10.9 and later the System Preferences changed a bit. It now looks like this:

Language & Region

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The only difference between the two English options (at least in for ASCII characters) seems to be whether period and colon are treated as part of words.

Part of words:

  • '.:_ in Standard
  • '_ in English (United States, Computer)

Not part of the start or end of words:

  • $+<=>^` in Standard
  • $+<=>^` in English (United States, Computer)
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To the best of my knowledge, selection word separation is done on a per-application basis, not a system-wide basis. iTerm allows you to configure the characters, but that's an extremely unusual option; most applications use the predetermined defaults in the Cocoa and Carbon libraries, which are hard-coded, not drawn from a centralized preference setting.

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Well, that's just too bad... –  avetis.kazarian Mar 28 '10 at 13:02
More importantly, iTerm's preference only affects selecting text in iTerm. It doesn't affect how tty applications move the cursor or edit words. –  Chris Page Aug 29 '11 at 12:08

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