I am aware that I can select a column (or block, or rectangle) of text in TextWrangler with Alt+mouse drag or Shift+Alt+ mouse click. Both of these actions require the use of mouse. I'd like to know if it's possible to do this with keyboard only.

  • Great tips! - This is actually the first result from Google searching how to select block text in textwrangler :)
    – Devy
    Jul 14, 2015 at 21:17

3 Answers 3


Having struggled a little with this, also looking for the key-only combinations, it appears the answer may unfortunately well be no. The mouse is needed.

See the TextWrangler FAQ.

Their manual also only makes mention of the use of the mouse under "Rectangular Selections"


On MacOS

  1. With the Shift key held down,
  2. use the left/right arrow to highlight some text on the current line.
  3. Then, still holding the Shift key,
  4. press and hold the Control key and use the up/down arrow to select the lines for rectangle.

Note: if your up/down gets to a line that's shorter than the left edge of your selection, strange things happen.

  • Doesn't work for me, pressing control + arrow key triggers an overview screen with all application's windows and recent documents lined up.
    – shrx
    May 11, 2016 at 7:59
  • Same as shrx for me - this is on MacOS, windows may be different.
    – SteveS
    May 17, 2017 at 18:40
  • I tested again...still works. Note: TextWrangler 5.5.2. There's a photo at www.sieler.com/text.html which shows a block of four lines by six characters . Critical: this only works if the initial text selection is all on the same line. As soon as you hit up/down during that first phase, you lose your chance. May 17, 2017 at 22:50
  • This is the right answer. Just make sure that “Soft Wrap Text” option is turned off. If the combo triggers some OS-level shortcut, then that is because it is defined to do so in your system. That should be possible to change.
    – iled
    Oct 2, 2017 at 11:35

For Mac, I have used Shift + alt/option.

Place the cursor to the left of the first Character/column you want to select. Press and hold Shift + alt and place cursor to the right of the final character you want selected (you can scroll all the down the page but continue to hold Shift + alt). As long as you continue to hold down Shift + alt, you will be able to adjust the selected text.

This has worked for me so far.

  • Are you saying that this works with the cursor movement keys? If so, please say so (in your answer). Jul 26, 2017 at 18:38

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