Mac OS X: Smart Quotes

Both of my Macs at home are running OS X 10.9 Mavericks, and I’ve becoming increasingly reliant on the very popular, mostly quite good Evernote.

One issue that I never quite understood was why Evernote automatically changed quotation marks over to angled quotes (also called “book quotes”, or “curly quotes”). It’s a very subtle difference, but one that creates problems for anyone using Evernote as a repository for content before shipping out to a content management system. The notes that I was writing in Evernote and moving over to WordPress’s text editor were getting all sorts of nasty.

For example, see what happened to this snippet after it went into WordPress’s text editor with its lovely angled quotes:

Mac OS X Smart Quotes garbage in WordPress text editor
The garbage output because of Mac OS X Smart Quotes when brought into WordPress’s text editor

I tried using the Simply Formatting command, tried switching Evernote to produce documents in plain text, but nothing was working. Then I fired up TextEdit and observed the same behavior. It dawned on me that my misgivings towards Evernote in this department were completely misguided: the key lay in a feature new to OS X 10.9 Mavericks, “Smart Quotes”.

To disable or otherwise modify OS X’s handling of quotation marks, go to System Preferences and select Keyboard. From here, select the Text tab and uncheck Use smart quotes and dashes.

Use smart quotes and dashes unchecked
Uncheck “Use smart quotes and dashes” in the Keyboard settings under System Preferences

I’m sure that there is a time and place for these fancy quotation marks.

For enlightening reading on the subject of quotation mark glyphs, cop this Wikipedia article, which includes Unicode and HTML that you can use to reproduce the marks: