Writing Direction Menu

version 1.0

Writing direction panel

Language: עברית

What is Writing Direction Menu?

Writing Direction Menu helps writers using right to left languages like Hebrew, Arabic and Farsi under Mac OS X.


What's new in this version

This is the first publicly distributed version, beta versions notwithstanding.

Changes in this version:

Editing incoming mail — do try this at home

Editing incoming mail — do try this at home

System Requirements

Requires Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) or later, Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) recommended. The Menu is very useful on Jaguar too, despite its limited support for writing direction.


  1. Log out. If you have an earlier version installed, move it to the trash before the installation.
  2. Place the Writing Direction Menu folder inside the InputManagers folder inside the Library folder in your hard disk. Create the InputManagers folder if it doesn't already exist.

If you don't have administration privileges, you can install the menu for yourself in the Library folder in your home folder.

Using Writing Direction Menu

The writing direction menu appears after the Help menu in all Cocoa applications. If it doesn't appear, relaunch the application.

Writing Direction Menu in Mail menu

Writing Direction Menu in Mail menu

You can change the writing direction by menu commands, convenient keyboard shortcuts (Control + arrows) and the writing direction panel. If the Writing Direction menu or panel is disabled (grayed-out), the application or text box you're using doesn't support changing the writing direction.

When editing rich text, you can set the writing direction of individual paragraphs. When editing plain text, you can temporarily change the direction of the whole text. Writing direction is not saved in plain text documents.

How It Is Different from DirectionService?

DirectionService inserts invisible direction characters into which set the direction of the text. Support for direction characters isn't uniform across different platforms and applications. Writing Direction Menu set the paragraph style base writing direction, a feature of the Cocoa text system.

DirectionService is fully functional on Jaguar, while Writing Direction Menu is only fully functional on Panther. When editing text that will only be read on Panther, the Writing Direction Menu is more convenient to use, but if you want compatibility with Jaguar users, or the ability to control the direction of multiple characters within a paragraph, DirectionService is the preferred solution.

Info for Developers and Advanced Users

In applications where the Writing Direction Menu isn't necessary, such as Mellel, you can prevent the menu from loading by adding the key WDDontInstallWritingDirectionMenu and the value YES into the application defaults.

Third party developers may add this key to the application factory defaults. Users may add the key to their personal defaults using the defaults command in the Terminal. For example, removing the menu from Mellel:

defaults write com.redlex.mellel \
WDDontInstallWritingDirectionMenu YES

Edit text in Safari — using your favorite direction

Edit text in Safari — using your favorite direction

Known Issues


  • When the menu is installed, the menu Edit:Special Characters… is missing from most applications. This menu open the Character Palette which can be accessed also from the Input menu, if enabled in the International page in System Preferences (Ori)
  • In Keynote, changing the writing direction has no effect, same as Panther's built-in direction menu. Keynote bug


Jaguar has poor support for writing direction:

  • The writing direction isn't saved in files or email
  • After changing direction, the line after the line that has been changed tends to inherit the new writing direction. This can be fixed easily by reapplying the writing direction to this line
  • Changing the text direction in an iChat chat window (which wasn't meant to be edited) breaks the display interestingly. Changing the direction back fixes the problem
  • Changing the direction of quoted text in Mail breaks the text to one letter per line. Returning to left-to-right fixes the problem


Writing Direction Menu — helps writers using right to left languages.

Copyright © 2003-2004 Nir Soffer

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA.