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Ask TUAW: Editing PDFs, Selecting Text, Medical Terms and More

It's Wednesday and that means it's time for Ask TUAW! Our queries from last week included questions about deleting pages from a PDF, triple-clicking to select a sentence, adding medical terms to OS X's spell checking dictionary and more. Remember, we need your questions to keep Ask TUAW going strong! So please feel free to post new questions in the comments of this post, or submit them via our tip form. As always, please add your own comments or responses to our answers. And now to this week's answers...

Brandie asks

Is there a free and good application that I can use to delete pages from PDF files? I don't really need to do anything in the PDFs except delete.


If you're really stuck on free then your best bet is probably the donationware PDFLab (above, just uncheck a page to remove it) or Combine PDF. Neither of these applications is exactly pretty, but they will probably get simple jobs done. If you were willing to spend some money, then you would probably find PDFpen ($50) more pleasant to use (e.g. drag and drop reordering, etc.).


Jon asks

One thing that has been driving me crazy in Mac OS X lately is that whenever i triple-click a word it selects the whole paragraph instead of that sentence. Any chance you could help me with this?

There seems to be some ambiguity about what the triple-click is supposed to do in OS X. Apparently the triple-click to select a single line only works in certain, generally older applications (e.g. AppleWorks). In most newer applications (e.g. see Apple's own support documents for Pages, iWeb, and Keynote), the behavior you are seeing (i.e. triple-click selects an entire paragraph) is normal. If you only want to select a single sentence, the best way is probably to use the shift-select trick. Position the cursor at the start of the sentence, then hold down the shift key and click again at the end of the sentence. Unfortunately, given that Apple itself seems to be deprecating the triple-click = select sentence functionality, I'm afraid you're probably going to have to get used to doing without it. If any readers know otherwise, please share in the comments.


Aaron asks

I am a medical student, and I was wondering if there is a way to find and add a medical dictionary so anatomical and physiological terms are not flagged as incorrect by spell check.

So far as I can tell there is no regularly available plug-in medical dictionary that will add medical terminology to OS X's built-in dictionary. I did find the Inductel Medical Dictionary ($60), but it seems to be meant for use with Word, and since you indicated elsewhere that you were using Pages it is unlikely that it would work with it. Your best bet would probably be to use Spell Catcher X ($40), which has built-in support for a 24,000+ word medical dictionary. Some reviews on MacUpdate seem to indicate that its medical dictionary is quite helpful.


Josh asks

How can i get the desktop to default to the left hand side rather than the right? To clarify, i mean for instance how the HD icon on the desktop, or any files or documents that i save to the desktop are always found on the right hand side of the screen, but i would like them on the other side... how do i change this? its has been bugging me for a long long time! Cheers

As you can see above, having the icons on the right is the way it has worked on the Mac since the start. To my knowledge (and research) there is no way to change this behavior other than some ridiculous tweaks like filling your entire desktop with transparent icons (further, this is not a good idea given how OS X uses memory for desktop objects). Unfortunately, since this is one of those Mac vs. Windows things (i.e. Windows has the behavior you describe), I doubt you're going to find many Mac folks who will be very sympathetic with your plight.

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