OS X Tip: Disabling "Smart Dashes"

Posted on Mon, 02/01/2016 - 16:27

I take a lot of notes in Evernote. In fact, I drafted this blog post in Evernote. However, I often run into a small, yet annoying, issue when I am taking notes on things related to IT, programming, development, etc., specifically when jotting things down related to the command line.

When it comes to learning new commands to use in my Terminal, I often run into the dreaded double-dash ("--"). Of course, this is mostly used to signal certain command-specific flags to allow for more discrete control (E.g., git config --global user.name "Vanilla Ice").

My problem was that, every time I tried to jot down any commands involving double-dash flags, my double-dashes would get "auto-corrected" to an en dash. This isn't a problem in Evernote specifically, but rather in OS X in general. However, since I take most of my programming notes in Evernote, this was where it was causing me the most trouble.

TL;DR: The OS X name for this auto-correct feature is "smart dashes". To disable this feature—and preserve all of your glorious, intentional double-dashes—you just need to change a single setting in your System Preferences:

How to disable 'smart dashes' in OS X (explained via a GIF file)

Here are the instructions written out, in case you can't view the above GIF file:

  1. Go to "System Preferences"
  2. Go to "Keyboard"
  3. Select the "Text" tab
  4. Uncheck the setting labeled "Use smart quotes and dashes"